SPARTACUS, based on Howard Fast's popular novel, is Stanley Kubrick's glorious masterpiece about a slave uprising in Rome in 70 B.C. Kirk Douglas, who also served as executive producer, stars as the title character, a man born of a slave woman and a slave master who has known nothing but chains his entire life. After being forced to put on a gladiator show--that almost leads to his death--for wealthy Romans (including a marvelously conniving Laurence Olivier as the power-hungry Crassus), Spartacus leads a slave revolt across Italy that soon has thousands marching on Rome. Meanwhile, he has fallen in love with the beautiful Varinia (an effervescent Jean Simmons), pledging his life to her.
Douglas assembled a fabulous all-star cast for the film; in addition to himself, Simmons, and Olivier, terrific performances are turned in by Charles Laughton as the curmudgeonly senator Gracchus, John Gavin as the young Julius Caesar, Tony Curtis as Antoninus (a "singer of songs," with all lines delivered in a beautifully thick New York accent), and especially Peter Ustinov, an Oscar winner for his portrayal of the businessman Batiatus, who always wants to know what's in it for him. Blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo's melodramatic script and Alex North's thrilling, soaring score add a majesty that helps make SPARTACUS one of the finest costume epics to ever come out of Hollywood.