Spartacus (1960)



Critic Consensus: Featuring terrific performances and epic action, Kubrick's restored swords-and-sandals epic is a true classic.

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Movie Info

Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) is a rebellious slave purchased by Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), owner of a school for gladiators. For the entertainment of corrupt Roman senator Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier), Batiatus' gladiators are to stage a fight to the death. On the night before the event, the enslaved trainees are "rewarded" with female companionship. Spartacus' companion for the evening is Varinia (Jean Simmons), a slave from Brittania. When Spartacus later learns that Varinia has been sold to Crassus, he leads 78 fellow gladiators in revolt. Word of the rebellion spreads like wildfire, and soon Spartacus' army numbers in the hundreds. Escaping to join his cause is Varinia, who has fallen in love with Spartacus, and another of Crassus' house slaves, the sensitive Antoninus (Tony Curtis). The revolt becomes the principal cog in the wheel of a political struggle between Crassus and a more temperate senator named Gracchus (Charles Laughton). Anthony Mann was the original director of Spartacus, eventually replaced by Stanley Kubrick, who'd previously guided Douglas through Paths of Glory. The film received 4 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Ustinov. A crucial scene between Olivier and Curtis, removed from the 1967 reissue because of its subtle homosexual implications, was restored in 1991, with a newly recorded soundtrack featuring Curtis as his younger self and Anthony Hopkins standing in for the deceased Olivier. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Universal Pictures


Kirk Douglas
as Spartacus
Laurence Olivier
as Marcus Licinius Crassus
Jean Simmons
as Varinia
Charles Laughton
as Gracchus
Tony Curtis
as Antoninus
Peter Ustinov
as Lentulus Batiatus
John Gavin
as Julius Caesar
Nina Foch
as Helena Glabrus
Herbert Lom
as Tigranes
John Ireland
as Crixus
John Dall
as Glabrus
Charles McGraw
as Marcellus
Joanna Barnes
as Claudia Marius
Paul Lambert
as Gannicus
Robert J. Wilke
as Guard Captain
Bob Wilke
as Guard Captain
Nick Dennis
as Dionysius
John Hoyt
as Caius
Dayton Lummis
as Symmachus
Lili Valenty
as Old Crone
Jil Jarmyn
as Julia
Jo Summers
as Slave Girl
Autumn Russell
as Slave Girl
Kay Stewart
as Slave Girl
Lynda Williams
as Slave Girl
Louise Vincent
as Slave Girl
Joe Haworth
as Marius
Vinton Haworth
as Metallius
Hallene Hill
as Beggar Woman
Paul E. Burns
as Fimbria
Leonard Penn
as Garrison Officer
Sol (Saul) Gorss
as Slave Leader
Jill Jarmyn
as Julia
Charles Horvath
as Slave Leader
Gil Perkins
as Slave Leader
Rod Normond
as Guard
Bob Morgan
as Gladiator
Reg Parton
as Gladiator
Tom Steele
as Gladiator
Aaron Saxon
as Gladiator
Wally Rose
as Gladiator
Ken Terrell
as Ad Lib
Otto Malde
as Roman General
Seamon Glass
as Pirate
Harold Kruger
as Pirate
Chuck Courtney
as Soldier
Valley Keene
as Soldier
Tap Canutt
as Soldier
Joe Canutt
as Soldier
Wayne Van Horn
as Soldier
Brad Harris
as Soldier
Jerry Brown
as Soldier
Chuck Hayward
as Soldier
Buff Brady
as Soldier
Cliff Lyons
as Soldier
Rube Schaffer
as Soldier
Anthony Hopkins
as Marcus Licinius Crassus (some scenes, 1991 restoratio
Ted de Corsia
as Legionnaire
Arthur Batanides
as Legionnaire
Bob Stevenson
as Legionnaire
Terence de Marney
as Major Domo
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Critic Reviews for Spartacus

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (6)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 3, 2009
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

This may be the most literate of all the spectacles set in antiquity.

Full Review… | May 8, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Asurprisingly apt companion piece to Paths of Glory in its consideration of the mechanisms of power.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It is a spotty, uneven drama.

May 9, 2002
New York Times
Top Critic

The most courageous thing about it, from today's standards, is that it closes without an obligatory happy ending, and an audience that has watched for 187 minutes doesn't get a tidy, mindless conclusion.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Spartacus

The only film of which Kubrick did not have control, this sumptuous and forever influential sword-and-sandal epic balances quite well its campy moments with scenes of dramatic intensity, but also has a messy script full of moralizing and confusing behavior from most of its characters.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus is a defining classic that has withstood the test of time. Brilliantly acted and directed, this is one of the best epics that combines action, drama and romance. This is a stunning work of cinematic genius that is a must see for cinema fans of all ages looking for a terrific, well acted and brilliantly directed film with rousing action, thrills and a compelling story. This is among Kubrick's greatest works. This is a majestic piece of cinema, and remains one of the standout classics along with such works as Ben- Hur and Lawrence of Arabia. This is an epic film that is grand in scale and scope. This is a picture that only Stanley Kubrick could have directed. With a terrific cast of outstanding talent, this is a powerful work that delivers exciting visuals, great battles and memorable performances. Kirk Douglas delivers on-screen and his role is among the most famous roles in the long history of cinema. This is a wonderful film that is sure to please cinema buffs everywhere and it is among the greatest films ever made as well. The film is truly entertaining from start to finish right up to the unforgettable climax. This epic has had a profound impact on genre films for years to come, and though no film has surpassed the greatness of Spartacus, many pictures have been influenced by Kubrick's classic. A brilliant, compelling and unforgettable film that is among the greatest films ever made. A must see for serious film fans. This film is worth watching for Kirk Douglas performance alone, and there's plenty of aspects that stand out about this work. Stanley Kubrick would aim bigger and better with this film, and it set the stage for future films in Kubrick's long and legendary career.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


A seminal classic of sorts. One that is of true, simple story about injustice, the absurd and of freedom. Quite the riveting movie with the fitting mood and atmosphere and elegant drama to drive its archetypal hero. It's both tragic and triumphant, and bravely courageous.

Adriel Lim
Adriel Lim

Super Reviewer

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