23 December 2010

Spartacus - 1960 Trailer

It is inevitable that the movie Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas, finds itself in the Christmas TV listings.  It may not be on one of the major channels but you can rest assured that it will be in there somewhere.  What better way is there to spend a few seasonal hours in front of the TV - in fact one of my earliest memories is watching the premiere of the movie on British TV with my family.  I was absolutely agog at the spectacle and overwhelmed by the I am Spartacus humanity of it all.  OK, so I was only around eight years old but the story and the movie in particular still resonates strongly with me, particularly at this time of year.

So, when I discovered this trailer from 1960 on Vimeo, up it had to go on Kuriositas.  Although this is not the original trailer - the fact that it had recently won four Academy Awards is included here - it is still a marvellous piece of movie advertising nostalgia in itself.  As it still is today, a number of Oscars means a box office revival and that was so of Spartacus.  Marketing and advertising budgets in 1960 were not what they are today and as such the movie still had an untapped and vast audience.  The fours Oscars meant that it could read this new audience.

Believe it or not the movie had originally opened to less than rave reviews (despite the hyperbole we see in the trailer).  Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called it a spotty, uneven drama, yet its reputation grew as time went on and in the eyes of movie goers and critics alike it matured like a fine wine.

The standout performances in the movie for me are (after Douglas himself of course) Jean Simmons as Verinia and Charles Laughton as Gracchus (even though his character was an anachronism).  Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier also gave fine performances - and even at ten I recognised the frisson bewteen their characters.  I was also in awe of John Gavin as Julius Caeasar (he also had a role as Janet Leigh's boyfriend in Pyscho, relaeased the same year) who was suitably heroically chinned and patrician.  Yet my favorite character was Woody Strode as Draba, the Ethiopian gladiator who was trained with Spartacus.  I was gutted (and always am) when he was killed.

Anyway, enjoy the trailer.

Poster Image Credit Wikimedia