Saturday, May 28, 2011


Stanley Kubrick, 1960 (7.9*)
Memorial Day War-athon #4
Kirk Douglas plays the Roman slave Spartacus, who fought for his freedom, then organized a massive army of ex-slaves that actually fought against a Roman army legion. This epic, around three hours long, is the first of this scale from director Stanley Kubrick, who previously cast Douglas in his anti-war classic Paths of Glory.

Though it's lacking in the riveting story of Lawrence of Arabia or Gandhi, this is still a historical epic of the same scale, and another based on a real historical person - and though not as grandiose as those films, it's still an epic worth seeing. This is, of course, an American slant on the story, a man's gotta have his freedom, or give him death, that kind of patriotic story. It also came out a year after Ben-Hur, so Biblical era epics were hot property, these were merely two in a river of these (Ten Commandments, Quo Vadis, Greatest Story Ever Told, The Robe), with Cleopatra to follow and perhaps kill the genre with one blow.

This actually won four Oscars®: Peter Ustinov for supporting actor, costume design, art direction, and cinematography. It won 8 awards overall out of 13 nominations

This is likely to remain the most famous of all of Kirk Douglas' film roles. It's also an interesting work in the filmography of Stanley Kubrick, the one Hollywood-style epic unlike all his others, now that we have a restored and uncut edition, it's more like his original film.


Shubhajit May 28, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

Yes, this original "Gladiator" certainly remains one of the most interesting films in Kubrick's career, for his only foray into mainstream kind of cinema. However, that said, it will also feature quite down the list of his best works.

As for Kirk Douglas, though his best performance in my opinion was in Billy Wilder's acerbic noir Ace in the Hole, his turn in Spartacus does remain his most popular.

José Sinclair May 28, 2011 at 11:28 AM  

I agree Shubhajit, Kirk's best was Ace in the Hole.. I also liked his first starring role in Out of the Past a lot, few could have worked vs Robert Mitchum so well..

As for Kubrick, nothing can match 2001, Dr. Strangelove, and A Clockwork Orange - what an era he created!

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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