Please Switch Your Browser Default to Custom Background Color

Spartacus: Still Censored
After All These Years...

by Duncan L. Cooper


Follow-up research to my article "Who Killed Spartacus?" (Cineaste, Summer 1991) has revealed evidence that Universal Studios deliberately censored this film's explosive historical content in an effort to keep it within the confines of the implicitly established mass media limits of acceptable political discourse. Despite the vigorous objections of executive producer Kirk Douglas, director Stanley Kubrick and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, Universal's unwillingness to confront prevailing political myths with historical reality resulted in the elimination of approximately ten sequences which fostered the hope that Spartacus' rebellion might actually have succeeded in destroying Rome. These cuts included a six second battle sequence titled "Battle of Luceria," a ten second map sequence titled "Battle Map-Metapontum," and a lengthier battle sequence titled "Battle of Metapontum," all of which depicted some of Spartacus' greatest military victories. Four additional sequences were also eliminated but later restored thanks to the determined resistance of the filmmakers and the opposition of the Catholic Church's Legion of Decency.

Unlike the other conventional cuts imposed on the film by the studio censors for sex, violence and nudity, these political excisions were intended to reduce the film's main character to a primitive spontaneous rebel who never really had a chance and to suppress screenwriter Dalton Trumbo's vision of him as "a great military leader who for four years running defeated the finest legions and the greatest armies Rome could put in the field against him." For Trumbo, this relentless attack on what he termed the Large View of Spartacus, gave evidence of 'an obsession with the Small View ... as to almost represent a conspiracy, a vulgar conspiracy, to kill any distinction this film might have had.[1]

The Major Players

In his autobiography, Kirk Douglas described his conception of the historical Spartacus based on his reading of the Howard Fast novel:

"Spartacus was a real man, but if you look him up in the history books you will find only a short paragraph about him. Rome was ashamed; this man had almost destroyed them. They wanted to bury him. I was intrigued with the story of Spartacus the slave, dreaming the death of slavery, driving into the armor of Rome the wedge that would eventually destroy her."[2]

According to Douglas's biographer, Michael Munn, "the film was first and foremost Kirk Douglas' vision"[3] and the film's star named himself executive producer precisely "to insure that the picture would be made his way."[4] Recent comments by Tony Curtis have confirmed that Douglas was determined to give at least equal emphasis in the film to the love story as to the slave uprising. In fact disagreements over this basic concept led to the dismissal of the film's first director Tony Mann two weeks into production. However, in a recent interview with Douglas himself, the actor/auteur repeatedly stressed his own determination to also portray on screen "the story of a slave whose dream of freedom nearly overthrew the Roman Empire."[5]

Special consultant on Spartacus Saul Bass has confirmed to this author that during the whole time he worked on the project there was never any doubt or wavering about this point in the minds of Douglas, producer Eddie Lewis, screenwriter Dalton Trumbo or any of the other members of the production company.[6] As the shooting of the picture came to a close all the key promotional materials produced for the film: the thumbnail plot summaries, the comic book, the historical pamphlet, the study guide, the souvenir book, the Soundtrack Album Program Notes, the coming attractions trailers, the Bantam paperback edition of the Fast novel ... all told the same story of a slave revolt against Rome which won victory after victory and all but overthrew the Empire itself.

The film's director Stanley Kubrick also subscribed to Douglas's basic premise; but, in contrast to Dalton Trumbo (as well as Douglas himself) he believed that historical realism demanded a more complex and ironic slave story line. To accomplish this Kubrick proposed some far reaching plot changes while filming was in progress; but because of Trumbo's opposition, these changes were only adopted after major alterations. Finally they were eliminated from the script altogether, probably by the studio, leading Kubrick to virtually disavow the picture. In response to Michel Ciment's question as to whether there was any relationship between his interpretation of antiquity in Spartacus and his parody of the inauthentic Hollywood sword and scandal epics of the 1950's in A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick replied:

"None at all. In Spartacus I tried with only limited success to make the film as [historically] real as possible but I was up against a pretty dumb script which was rarely faithful to what is known about Spartacus. History tells us that he twice led his victorious slave army to the northern borders of Italy, and could quite easily have gotten out of the country. But he didn't, and instead he led his army back to pillage Roman cities. What the reasons were for this might have been the most interesting question the film might have pondered. Did the intentions of the rebellion change? Did Spartacus lose control of his leaders who by now may have been more interested in the spoils of war than in freedom? In the film, Spartacus was prevented from escape by the silly contrivance of a pirate leader who reneged on a deal to take the slave army away in his ships. If I ever needed any convincing of the limits of persuasion a director can have on a film where someone else is the producer and he is merely the highest-paid member of the crew, then Spartacus provided proof to last a lifetime."[7]

Kubrick may have wanted more realism but Douglas's concept still had the makings of a tremendously exciting motion picture. However, Universal Studios head Edward Muhl had some very different ideas leading to what Trumbo described as "a basic conflict of opinion about the dimensions of Spartacus and his struggle, a conflict which has been in evidence from the earliest beginnings of the project." Originally Muhl never really conceived of Spartacus as a "spectacle" or "blockbuster" but rather as an intimate film costing between $3 and $4 million. A personal friend of Trumbo's and the man who officially broke the Hollywood blacklist, Muhl too wanted to make an exciting, historically accurate film. He was particularly fascinated by the struggles between the liberal and conservative Roman senatorial factions, transparent analogues to contemporary American politics, which the writer had injected into the script. But, as he told this author: "Deep ideas are nice to have in a picture. But what counts is audience appeal." In response to the Douglas concept of Spartacus, he remarked: "its understandable that Kirk would want to build up his own part but that's not what the picture was about," concluding: "We did what was possible under the circumstances.... You know that phrase, 'the art of the possible'."[8] His attitude probably hardened when late in 1959 persistent rumors of new Hollywood hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee began to surface and when a full-scale right-wing attack on the film began after it was revealed by Walter Winchell that blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo was the author of the screenplay.[9] Thus, despite the fact that Spartacus was the first truly independent production bankrolled by Universal, in the end Muhl's cautious approach prevailed because he and the studio still held the trump card: the legal right to make the final cut.

The Battle For Control

Of course, every big-budget film like Spartacus is a compromise between the writer, director, producer and the studio which is providing the financial backing. However, in the case of Spartacus, so bitter did the conflict over the film's content become that Muhl only consented to speak with this author on the condition that the painful clash of personalities, now almost 35 years in the past, would not be discussed. According to Tony Curtis, "Universal was being so heavy handed about everything including production values.... Spartacus cost $12 million and was the most expensive picture Universal had ever made. It ended up grossing $14 or $15 million but they were scared shitless at the time."[10]

In his autobiography Kirk Douglas also complained about studio interference in several pictures including Spartacus which his production company, Bryna Films, produced with Universal's financial backing and distribution. He wrote: "The Last Sunset is another example of how a studio operates. Universal insisted on controlling the production."[11] In the case of Spartacus Douglas was particularly frustrated with the elimination by studio censors of the famous Oysters and Snails Scene between Tony Curtis and Laurence Oliver because of its veiled homosexual references.

However, according to Muhl, Universal watched the picture closely "because it needed watching." Universal appointed Marshall Green assistant director to keep a close eye on Kubrick while Muhl's right hand man, Mel Tucker, viewed all the dailies, worked closely with Eddie Lewis, conferred frequently with Muhl himself, and accompanied Kubrick to Spain, where many of the battle scenes were filmed, to keep the young director within budget.

The picture went through sweeping changes during the editing process, particularly in the section between the beginning of the slaves' trek across Italy and the end of their victorious march at the seaport of Brindusium (see below). According to supervising editor Irving Lerner, the struggle over the final content of the film became so intense that Universal executives, in an unprecedented move, periodically came right into the editing room and ordered him to reinstate or delete individual scenes, overriding Douglas' instructions. As a result, a number of scenes, particularly those featuring Charles Laughton, went in and out of the picture several times. The process of arriving at a final cut on which Lerner, Douglas, Kubrick and Muhl could even temporarily agree dragged on for so long that Lerner was finally forced to walk off the picture in order to begin directing his own film, Studs Lonigan.[12]

The Lost Battle Scenes of Spartacus

The politically motivated cuts made during the editing obliterated the film's intended inspirational message and seriously undermined its claim to historical authenticity, both of which depended upon the inclusion of at least a few battle sequences depicting some of Spartacus' historic victories. As Spartacus editor Robert Lawrence told this author: "the idea [of shooting full blown additional battle scenes] was discussed, but it was never actually done" because the money was not forthcoming from Universal. According to Lawrence, purportedly there were fears that if the scenes of the early slave victories were too good, they would detract from the impact of the final battle. In fact, following the conclusion of principle shooting, on August 4, 1959 an agreement was reached between Bryna and Universal to film six days of these slave victory scenes in Spain as part of a total of twelve days of battle scenes at an estimated cost of half a million dollars. However, when Douglas came back with Trumbo's proposals for a large number of additional scenes to be shot in Spain, the deal was re-negotiated. The new agreement of October 21, 1959 called for a total of twenty-two days of shooting in Spain the following month at an estimated cost of nearly a million dollars. However, the number of days for battle scenes was cut down to six, enough to accommodate the final battle but not the early slave victories.

Instead, Douglas had to fall back on the idea of a "battle map" described to Trumbo as a map "with some pictorial device superimposed indicating the sequence of [a dozen important slave] victories ... during the march from Luceria to Metapontum."[13] However, the evidence suggests that the studio initially rejected the Battle Map concept in favor of a map without pictorial battles or superimposed descriptive titles.[14] According to Spartacus editor Bob Lawrence, "We had maps with battles and maps without battles because some people wanted one kind and some people wanted the other." Saul Bass was commissioned to design this alternate map and produced several different versions, "very elaborate at first, then later much simpler." Bass was told that his map was to be cut into segments to be used as inserts for a big montage containing marching and dialogue but no battles.

However, in December 1959 a significant amount of battle footage did become available for additional battle scenes when the studio rejected the first version of the final battle filmed in Spain as "boring and conventional" and ordered a series of retakes featuring gory shots of severed arms, legs and heads.[15] As Bob Lawrence told this author, "We had hundreds of feet of battle footage [for additional battle scenes]. But some people wanted it in the picture and some people didn't."

The following month a six second battle scene, the "Battle of Luceria," depicting Spartacus' first great victory, was inserted into the film following the first big slave march from Mt. Vesuvius to Luceria.[16] At the same time, following the Revised Final Screenplay the filmmakers apparently decided to go ahead with the Battle Map using the rejected battle footage from Spain as well as titles naming the sites of the great slave victories.[17] To this end they inserted into the picture a ten second sequence probably containing more Spanish battle scenes, titled "Battle Map-Metapontum," following the second big slave march from Luceria to Metapontum.[18]

There is also some evidence suggesting that the filmmakers subsequently assembled a much longer battle montage using the Spanish outtakes which they intended to combine with Bass' map inserts. In a post-production scheduling memorandum dated February 12, 1960 to Ed Muhl, Mel Tucker, Eddie Lewis and Bob Lawrence, Editorial Department Chief Sid Lund requested that "In addition, the number, design and timing of the map inserts for the battle sequences should be finalized as soon as possible." Lund was working on five other pictures at the time and does not specifically remember this memorandum; but as he told the author, if his memo made such a reference, "then the facts at the time had to support it." Mel Tucker was more non-committal, asserting that although he had never personally seen such a battle montage on film, it was possible that the filmmakers did put one together but then decided not to use it, before a screening for the studio could be held.

In fact, the evidence indicates that some time over the next two months the filmmakers decided to drop the battle montage concept and the Battle of Luceria in favor of inserting one major slave victory sequence between the Battle-Map Metapontum and the triumphal March Into Metapontum which followed. This sequence, for which composer Alex North wrote a pencil sketch score entitled "Battle of Metapontum," is cited in the post-editing April 13, 1960 Revised Music Notes with the annotation "NOT IN AS YET."[19]

Regrettably, by the end of April the Battle of Metapontum had also been eliminated from the film. However, National Screen Service did complete work on a shorter six second version of the Battle Map Metapontum for the filmmakers just in time for the June previews. This version included the Bass map together with a series of titles, superimposed over scenes from the film, possibly those used in the deleted six second Battle of Luceria. Spartacus production assistant Stan Margulies, who oversaw the production of the battle map by National Screen, cannot recall whether these scenes consisted of marching or battle sequences. However, as he told this author, his inclination is that the titles represented the sites of Spartacus' important victories.[20]

Composer Alex North devoted the first six seconds of his piece entitled "Metapontum Triumph" to the four crescendos which comprise the music for the Battle Map and which can still be heard today as the opening bars of the film's Overture.[21] However, after the previews the film was handed over to Universal and "the Metapontum Map" was eliminated as part of a whole series of 42 cuts and trims made by the studio, according to Muhl, "for content, not for length." With the cutting of the Battle-Map Metapontum the entire triumphal March Into Metapontum which followed was rendered practically meaningless and the last vestige of truth about the real magnitude of Spartacus historic achievements was eliminated from this film.

The studio cuts might have met with more determined resistance from the filmmakers except for the fact that, with the exception of Kirk Douglas, all of the other major players had departed for new projects and were (probably) unaware of what was taking place. Kubrick had returned to England to begin work on Lolita, Irving Lerner was off directing Studs Lonigan, Bob Lawrence was in Spain making EL CID, and Dalton Trumbo was busy working on his next project Exodus. Lawrence sensed that the picture was long even for first run theatres and might be cut by the studio. However, when he returned he was horrified to discover that, "All my notes, all the script notes: Gone. Gone. They were thrown out. All the trims, all the should-we-or shouldn't-we stuff, all the 'Stanley says hold onto it but Kirk doesn't like it'. All that kind of stuff, beautifully labelled and ready: Gone."

However, composer Alex North was still on the scene and protested against the damage the cuts were doing to a number of his music cues. When he learned that additional cuts were being made he was infuriated and dictated the following scathing telephone message to Eddie Lewis:

"Since we spoke there have been additional cuts in Kitchen No. One, Forest Meeting and Luceria Camp [scenes]. This complete disregard and disrespect for me and for my contribution by persons not qualified in any artistic levels an insult to my abilities. The illogical picayune cuts force me to suggest you hire a butcher and remove my name from screen credits. With my background and reputation I do not intend to participate in amateur night."[22]

The Covert Censorship of the Film

At the same time that almost all of Spartacus' historically significant actions were eliminated from the film during the editing successful attempts were made to eliminate almost all the amplifying reactions to them as well. These cuts not only reduced the film's dramatic impact, in some cases they also seriously damaged its internal logic, as the following examples amply demonstrate.


An added scene written by Trumbo as part of the retakes and originally inserted following the first big slave march from Vesuvius to Lucaria, it contained the following lines addressed to Spartacus:

"Of course it pleases Roman vanity to think you're noble. They shrink from the idea that a slave can beat them. Keep on winning and they'll elevate you to the rank of a prince! ... The party of Gracchus is in difficulty because the Senate can find no one to defeat you. Therefore the party of Crassus delights in every victory you win.... But you---you can't actually believe you're going to win? With the endless armies Rome can muster against you? ... Surely you understand you're going to lose. You have no chance. The world is too small for you. Every power on earth will fight you. Even the enemies of Rome will turn against you if you show promise of success.... They'll butcher you to the last man, women and child."[23]

A few days after this scene was shot it was shifted back in the film to just prior to the slaves' first battle on Mt.Vesuvius and as a result all the dialogue above was replaced with retakes or eliminated.[24]


The opening section of the scene in the Roman baths, this sequence contained the following dialogue referring to the Roman defeat at Metapontum:

Laelius: What news from Metapontum?
Symmachus: Heralds are crying the news now. We lost nineteen thousand men including Commodius and all his officers!
Laelius: Nineteen Thousand! ... It takes us five years to train a legion. How can this Spartacus train an army in seven months? There's something wrong. Something very wrong.

Eliminated from the film's first rough cut this sequence was restored as a result of an eloquent plea by Trumbo in his Report on SPARTACUS. Nearly cut again it survived to become the only specific reference to a major slave victory still in the film today.[25]


A cutting sheet dated March 2, 1959 reads "dialogue out" in reference to Spartacus' lines:

"We've traveled a long ways together. We fought many battles. Won great victories. Now instead of returning to our homes across the sea, we must fight again.... I'd rather be here, a free man among brothers, facing a long march and hard fight, than to be the richest man in Rome. Fat with food he didn't work for, and surrounded by slaves."[26]

The heart of Spartacus' speech to the slaves, these lines ultimately remained in the film despite the initial cutting order. But without the battle scenes to which they refer most of their impact was lost.


A sequence depicting defeated legionaries limping back into Rome while a terrified citizenry begins to flee the city, these scenes were meant to convey the historical fact that Spartacus' revolt reached such proportions that it precipitated a panic which led to the installation of a dictatorship, signaling the beginning of the end of Roman democracy. As a result of Trumbo's Report on SPARTACUS, this sequence was reinstated on the Present Edited Continuity of Completed Picture as one of the Added Studio Scenes to be shot as part of the retakes which were approved at the top level meeting of October 10, 1959. It showed up a month later on the Revised Music Notes of November 2, 1959 marked "SCENE MISSING," but apparently it was never shot.[27]


A scene intended to follow the PANIC IN ROME sequence, it contained dialogue in which the Senate offers Crassus the command against the slaves and warns him that if he does not accept, Rome will fall to Spartacus - a prospect to which Crassus reacts with indifference. Shot, according to Trumbo, as part of the retakes, it was never used in the film.[28]


A scene which follows Crassus' assumption of power in which Gracchus tells an increasingly outraged Caesar, "This Spartacus has quite a talent when it comes to handling an army.... He's developed such a bad habit of winning that Crassus may not be able to cure him of it ... If Spartacus wins I intend to ask the Senate to emancipate his whole army." Eliminated from the film's first rough cut this scene was belatedly restored as a result of Trumbo's Report on SPARTACUS and went in and out of the picture several times. Its final elimination by the studio after the Final Preview, destroyed the whole motivation for Caesar's epochal defection from his mentor, Gracchus--- and republican democracy, to Crassus---and imperial dictatorship.[29]


Part of the first rough cut flashback version of the film, this scene contained Crassus' long address to his staff officers on the eve of the final battle including the lines: "Nine Roman armies have been destroyed by Spartacus ... and our defeat will mean the fall of Rome." Cut along with the rest of Crassus' original speech when the flashback was eliminated, these lines were still considered to have enough audience appeal to be used as the opening scene of the film's trailer.[30]


A scene in which Spartacus confesses his fear of impending defeat to Varinia:

Varinia: They've never beaten us yet.
Spartacus: No. But no matter how many times we beat them, they always seem to have another army to send against us. And another. Varinia, its as if we've started something that has no ending.[31]

The only specific statement in the film referring to Spartacus' series of brilliant victories which the censors apparently never attempted to cut, this scene represents the exception which proves the rule. The product of Trumbo's own growing uncertainty about the ultimate fate of the revolution, this scene's overall hopeless tone meshed too nicely with the studio's own hidden agenda to allow it to become a target for elimination, despite its unwelcome historical candor.


A crucial reaction shot from this sequence remains in the film, in which a visibly dazed and frightened Crassus heaves a surreptitious sigh of relief at the appearance of his allies, Pompey and Lucullus.[32] However, in contradiction to the filmmakers' express written intentions, the long and medium range rather than the closeup take of this shot was used, obscuring Olivier's brilliant performance during the picture's climactic moments and destroying the basis for his character's words and actions during the remainder of the film.[33]


This scene originally contained Crassus' lines expressing his shock and disbelief at the sight of the clearly evident love between the fallen slave men and women, a love which has banished their fear of death, transforming them into a force which he senses will ultimately prevail over the power of Rome. The cutting of these lines without the author's knowledge during the initial filming of this scene provoked some of the bitterest charges of bad faith in Trumbo's entire Report on SPARTACUS. But despite his vehement protests, these lines were nevertheless excluded from the subsequent retakes.[34]

Despite these cuts a large number of scenes from the first half of the film presaging great military success for the slave army did survive through the Final Preview and beyond, including such scenes as Spartacus' Speech to the Gladiators upon their return to the gladiatorial school, Spartacus' Greeting To New Recruits on Mt. Vesuvius, Spartacus Bargains With the Pirate Tigranes (Second Version), Spartacus Confronts The Defeated Glabrus and Glabrus Reports Back to the Senate (see my article, "Spartacus - A Second Look," Cineaste, Fall 1974). Furthermore, a number of scenes from the second half of the film which built upon or recapitulated the great slave victories also survived, including such scenes as the slaves' Triumphal March into Metapontum, Caesar Discusses Metapontum, Spartacus' Speech on the Beach at Brindusium, Spartacus and Varinia's Last Night Together and the Balcony Scene. Together these scenes formed a veritable constellation whose outline portrayed the figure of Spartacus, the rebel slave who almost defeated Imperial Rome.

However, the power source which illuminated this constellation was the Battle-Map Metapontum which encapsulated in six seconds the action to which the dialogue in these scenes referred. Thus, once the studio pulled the plug by cutting the Battle Map after the Final Preview, all the lights in the constellation went out and the filmmakers' underlying conception of the picture simply disappeared.

The Overt Negation of the Film's Message

Not satisfied with the elimination or neutralization of nearly all of the scenes which affirmed the idea of the Large Spartacus, the studio appears to have forced radical changes in key dialogue as well in order to make its message unmistakable. Thus, during the last days of 1959, a retake was done of the last scene between Spartacus and Antoninus in which the key historical question posed by this film is addressed:

Antoninus: "Could we have won, Spartacus? Could we ever have won?"
Spartacus: "Just by fighting them we won something. When even one man says 'No. I won't' Rome begins to fear. And we were tens of thousands who said it."[35]

But in the retake Spartacus replies in the negative, providing an explicit statement of the hopeless message which the film still delivers today:

Antoninus: "Could we have won, Spartacus? Could we ever have won?"
Spartacus: "No.(!) That was the wrong fight. We were doomed from the beginning. But it was a beautiful thing"[36]

As Robert Lawrence, told the author, "this scene was redone because some people wanted the film to express this idea whereas other people wanted to express the original idea." (emphasis added)

Possibly as the result of audience reaction, the original version of this scene was ultimately restored after the previews of June 1960.[37] But simultaneously a hastily revised version of the film's voiceover prologue was introduced with a new downbeat conclusion:

"Here [in the Nubian gold mines] under whip and chain and sun [Spartacus] lived out his youth and early manhood and dreamed the death of human servitude. The historians of ancient Rome have recorded the death of his dream, and the utter destruction of his life and all his hopes. Yet his name still lives. And the last vestiges of slavery disappear before our eyes. And the defeat of Spartacus has become the victory of man "[38]

Fortunately, this crushing repudiation of the filmmakers' entire historical conception of Spartacus ultimately failed to find a permanent place in the film; but only because, shortly before the Premiere, objections from the Catholic Church's National Legion of Decency forced the studio to restore the original version with a new upbeat opening placing the story "in the last century before the birth of the new faith called Christianity which was destined to overthrow the pagan tyranny of Rome."[39]

Conclusion: For An Uncensored "Director's Cut" of Spartacus

In summary, de facto studio censorship reduced Spartacus from the tragic, but ultimately uplifting, historical epic that Douglas, Kubrick, Trumbo and even the Universal publicity department believed they were making, to a sad reflection from which all traces of hope for progressive social change had been eliminated. Even worse, all the deleted scenes from the picture which might have formed the basis for a full restoration were junked by Universal in 1975. Thus, although Stanley Kubrick and the Spartacus restoration team wanted to restore the full 202 minute June 1960 Final Preview version of the film, the best they were able to do was a shortened 196 minute version of the 199 minute July 1960 studio censored cut which was shown to the press.

Kubrick now reportedly feels the film is "better than he thought it was." However, the director has expressed no interest in going beyond the restoration to the reconstruction that is necessary to make a "director's cut" possible. Only such a Kubrick-designed and approved director's cut can legitimately express the filmmakers' real intentions in making Spartacus.

Such a director's cut of Spartacus would not be very difficult or expensive to produce, as the following sample outline of a reconstructed minimal "director's cut" indicates:

1) The six second Battle-Map Metapontum depicting Spartacus' historic series of victories should be reshot and, together with North's accompanying music, overlaid onto some of the fighting scenes currently in the film. The completed scene should be inserted prior to the triumphal March into Metapontum. According to Saul Bass, this would cost no more than $100,000 or approximately ten percent of the total cost of the current restoration.

2) The Intermission could be moved back to follow the Metapontum Triumph to underscore Spartacus' initially victorious campaign.

3) A battle montage using stills from the lost Spanish battle scenes, sound from the final battle, and the current intermission music, could be inserted, either as part of the intermission or just prior to the Battle Map-Metapontum thus reinforcing the action implied by the Battle Map.

4) Olivier's "nine Roman armies" lines which still appear on the film's trailer, could be reinserted into the Tent scene in place of Crassus' redundant lines: "Spartacus has every reason to believe that he has outdistanced the pursuing armies of Pompey and Lucullus."

5) Several successive closeup versions of Olivier's anxiety filled reaction shots during the final battle could be reinserted.

Were a "director's cut" to be produced along these or similar lines, then a far greater and more authentic version of this film may yet emerge into the light of day.

This essay is dedicated to the memory of Eric Orbom, 1960 Academy Award Winner for Best Art Direction, who lost his life in the effort to make the matte work in Spartacus state of the art. The struggle continues.


[1] Dalton,Trumbo, "The Sequence on Vesuvius: Notes," pg.2; "Report on Spartacus," Section II, pp.46-47

[2] Kirk Douglas, The Ragman's Son, pg.304

[3] Michael Munn, Letter to the Author

[4] Michael Munn, Kirk Douglas, pg.78

[5] Tony Curtis, Taped Radio Call-in Interview with the Author; Marshall Green [assistant director], Interview with David Chandler, March 25, 1960, pp.18-19; Spartacus, The Criterion Collection, [Laserdisc],Voiceover Commentary by Kirk Douglas, Analog Track 2

[6] Saul Bass: Interview with the author

[7] Michel Ciment, Kubrick, pg.151; See also Duncan Cooper, "Dalton Trumbo vs. Stanley Kubrick: Their Debate Over Arther Koestler's The Gladiators," in Cineaste, Summer 1991.

[8] Eddie Lewis, Interview with David Chandler, April 7, 1960, pp.34-35; Edward Muhl: Interview with the author; Dalton Trumbo, "The Sequence on Vesuvius: Notes," pg.2.

[9] Dalton Trumbo, Additional Dialogue, pp.493-4 [footnote], pp.534,536

[10] Tony Curtis, Tony Curtis, The Autobiography, pp. 180, 185

[11] Kirk Douglas, The Ragman's Son, pg.330

[12] Irving Lerner, Interview With David Chandler, June 29,1960, pp.3,17

[13] Dalton Trumbo, "Spartacus, Material To Be Shot in Spain," pg.31; Letter Jeffrey Asher to Eddie Lewis, January 25, 1960: Concerning Spartacus overhead charges by Universal on Spanish Shooting; Interview with Robert Lawrence.

[14] Spartacus: Present Edited Continuity of Completed Picture, October 2, 1959; Seq.No.54; Appendix ST [Studio], ST-15; Spartacus: Revised Music Notes, November 5, 1959, pg.12, Reel XVI

[15] Outline for Battle Sequence, August 13, 1959; Spartacus, Present Edited Continuity of Completed Picture, October 2, 1959; Seq. No. 73; Appendix SP [Spain], SP-12; Continuity Breakdown, October 15, 1959, Added Scenes-Spain, pp.51-55, Scenes 1-38; Spartacus, Music Notes, Revised II, January 21, 1960, by Stanley Kubrick, Reel XXII, Ft.No.000-441; Spartacus, Daily Production Report, November 25, 1959, December 14, 1959; Letter From Fred Banker to Charles Block of Globe Photos on Bill Nunley Spartacus Layout, March 10, 1960: Containing Promo-Profile of Spartacus propman-armorer Bill Nunley; "Proposed List of Gory Shots Tying to Battle Sequence As Outlined by S. Kubrick," January 4, 1960; Melville Tucker, Saul Bass, film editor Robert Lawrence: Interviews with the author

[16] Spartacus, Music Notes, Revised II, January 21, 1960, by Stanley Kubrick, Reel XVIII, Ft.No.000-009

[17] Spartacus: Revised Final Screenplay, January 16, 1959 with revisions through March 27, 1959, Scene 248E

[18] Spartacus, Music Notes, Revised II, January 21, 1960, by Stanley Kubrick, Reel XVIII, Ft.No.521-536.

[19] Spartacus, Music Notes, April 13, 1960, Reels 16B, 17B; Interviews with Alex North collaborator Mark McGurty and orchestrators Henry Brandt and Sid Raiman

[20] Letter from James Pollak, National Screen Service, to Stan Margulies, May 27, 1960

[21] Gordon Thiel, Alex North Manuscripts, UCLA Music Library: "Spartacus", Orchestrated Score for "Metapontum Triumph"; Spartacus, The Criterion Collection, [Laserdisc], Overture

[22] Spartacus, Music Notes, April 13, 1960, Reel 17B; Post-Final Preview Cutting Sheet, Item No.32; Combined Continuity on Spartacus, June 20, 1960, Reel 9A, pg.3, no.19 [25 ft = 16 2/3 sec]; Continuity and Dialogue on Spartacus, July 26, 1960, Reel 8B,pg.3, no.20 [13 1/2 ft = 9 sec] [Cut = 11 1/2 ft = 7 2/3 sec]; Alex North, Typed Telephone Message to Eddie Lewis; Robert Lawrence, quoted in "The Fall and Rise of Spartacus," Film Comment, March-April 1991.

[23] Dalton Trumbo, "Retakes; With Notes and Old Scenes For Comparison" October 1959; pp. 22, 24-27

[24] Spartacus, Daily Production Report, January 22,25,28,29, 1960; Spartacus, Music Notes, Revised II, January 21, 1960, by Stanley Kubrick, Reel XVIII, Ft.No.000; Spartacus: Present Edited Continuity of Completed Picture, October 2, 1959; Seq.No.53; Dalton Trumbo, "Report on Spartacus," Section II, pg.32

[25] Dalton Trumbo, "Report on Spartacus," Section II, pp.42-43; "Projection Room Notes-Running With Mr.Douglas," November 12, 1959, "Roman Bath Sequence"; Dialogue Continuity on Spartacus, April 18, 1960, Reel 17, pg.3

[26] Spartacus:Cutting Notes, March 2, 1960,"Speech on Beach," Reel 19; Dialogue Continuity on Spartacus, April 18, 1960, Reel 19, pp.1-2

[27] Spartacus, 2nd Draft Screenplay, September 22, 1958, Scenes 256, 259-260; Dalton Trumbo, "Report on Spartacus," Section II, pg.45; Spartacus: Revised Music Notes, November 5, 1959, pg.13, Reel XVII; Spartacus: Present Edited Continuity of Completed Picture, October 2, 1959; Seq.No.66; Appendix ST [Studio], ST-19

[28] Dalton Trumbo, Additional Dialogue, pg.529; Spartacus; Photoplay Studies, Vol.25, No.4, August 1960; pg.18, still photo and caption

[29] Spartacus, Final Shooting Script, September 14, 1959, Sc.No. 284; Dalton Trumbo, "Report on Spartacus," Section II, pp.45; Spartacus: Present Edited Continuity of Completed Picture, October 2, 1959; Seq.No.67-68; Appendix ST [Studio], ST-15;Spartacus, Music Notes, Revised II, January 21, 1960, by Stanley Kubrick, Reel XX, Ft.No.237.11; Dialogue Continuity on Spartacus, April 18, 1960, Reel 19, pg.1; Dialogue Continuity on Spartacus [Incorporating Changes], June 3,1960, Reel 18B, pp.2-3; Combined Continuity on Spartacus, June 20, 1960, Reel 10A, pp.4-5; Continuity and Dialogue on Spartacus, July 26, 1960, Reel 10A, pg.4; Post-Final Preview Cutting Sheet, Item No.31

[30] Spartacus, Final Shooting Script, September 14, 1959, [actually a Cutters Continuity in the form of a script], Sc.8

[31] Spartacus, Final Shooting Script, September 14, 1959, Sc.No. 273

[32] Spartacus, Unrestored Pan-and-Scan Video Tape Version,1985, Reel 2

[33] Spartacus, Daily Production Report, December 28, 1959; Spartacus, Additional Shots Beyond The Script Requirements, December 1959

[34] Spartacus: Revised Final Screenplay, January 16, 1959 with revisions through June 1, 1959, Sc.321-323; Dalton Trumbo, "Report on Spartacus," Section II, pp.46-47

[35] Dalton Trumbo,"Retakes; With Notes and Old Scenes For Comparison," October 1959, pp. 69-70

[36] Dialogue Continuity on Spartacus, April 18, 1960, Reel 26, pg.1; Combined Continuity on Spartacus, June 20, 1960, Reel 12B, pg.5

[37] Continuity and Dialogue on Spartacus, July 26, 1960, Reel 12B, pg.4

[38] Dialogue Continuity on Spartacus, April 18, 1960, Reel 2, pg.1; Combined Continuity on Spartacus, June 20, 1960, Reel 1B, pg.1; Continuity and Dialogue on Spartacus, July 26, 1960, Reel 1B, pp.1-2; Spartacus, Original Soundtrack Album, Decca Records, [and MCA Compact Disk], Program Notes

[39] Spartacus, The Criterion Collection, [Laserdisc], Opening Prologue

Copyrightę1996 Duncan L. Cooper, All Rights Reserved