MovieChat Forums > Spartacus (1960) Discussion > What was good and what sucked about this...

What was good and what sucked about this film

Not really historically accurate. Spartacus (2004) starring Goran Visnic from ER was.

The casting was very good except for two notable exceptions. Jean Simmons looked like she sleep walked through her part. Lousy acting, no emotion. John Gavin as Julius Caesar?

Charles McGraw gave a very strong performance as Marcellus, as did Laurence Olivier as Crassus. Peter Ustinov gave comic relief as Batiatus. Woody Strode was intense as Draba.

Kirk Douglas was very capable as Spartacus, but his character was devoid of personality...too bad because Douglas is a very good actor and should have been provided with a better script.

The movie's battle scenes were stifled and extremely brief.

Although the film had a big budget, it seemed cheap. It was no Ben Hur.

Stanley Kubrick and Kirk Douglas were both control freaks and they clashed. The result was a mess. Also, Kubrick is pretty damn overrated as a director. Most of his movies sucked, although they were acclaimed by many critics....King's New Clothes effect.


to your first sentence nothing can be proven as "historically accurate" concerning spartacus *himself* -- there's simply not much known about him... and even the ancient historians contradict each other trying to do so.


The battle scenes are incredible in my opinion. Those wide shots of the army approaching are 100% real soldiers in a field. The scene when they launch the fire logs down the hill and stuntmen in shorts get ran over is impressive as hell. There is also a lot of blood for a movie shot in the 50's.

Also, the shots of all the extras are great and would be CGI if done today. Especially when they are all climbing directly up the hill. There are also a lot of great tracking shots along canyons that are pure Kubrick. I don't think you fully realize just how astounding the work put into this movie is, likely due to desensitization from modern cinema. That and seeing it on a small TV. I just saw a 70mm print and the movie is excellent.

Ben-Hur has one scene that's better than Spartacus and that's the chariot race. The characters, acting and script is all so much better than Ben-Hur. Only cheap aspect are the obvious sound stages and even those are still charming in a way.


"The battle scenes are incredible in my opinion. Those wide shots of the army approaching are 100% real soldiers in a field."

Yes, the marching in formation was very impressive and memorable. But as soon as the battle started, all semblance of formation was thrown out the window and the battle devolved into a million individual melees. That simply wasn't how the Roman army fought. This is a massive pet peeve of mine with movies set in Roman times; almost no one ever gets Roman warfare right (one exception is from HBO's "Rome" series, wherein one of the main characters was actually punished for breaking formation and fighting individually like that; this pleased me very much).


Actually, the best thing about the movie was how it made the point that the only reason the rebellion lasted as long as it did was because all the politicians back in Rome were so busy using the rebellion to score points off each other that they couldn't be arsed to take the field and actually fight the rebelling slaves. One if the things that makes this film great is the grasp of politics, and how smart politicians work. That's rare, most films about smart people are written by stupid people, this is an exception.

I've always thought the scenes about Rome and the Romans were much better than the scenes involving the rebellious slaves. Maybe that's because the actors playing the Romans were much more talented than the ones playing the slaves, maybe it's because Dalton Trumbo had a much better grasp of politics than of rebelling against slave masters.


Good: writing, direction, acting, cinematography, music, locations, action

Sucked: the wooden wall of the small, round arena at the gladiator school, which was obviously constructed of old railway sleepers.