Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted at the time as one of the Hollywood Ten. Kirk Douglas publicly announced that Trumbo was the screenwriter of Spartacus, and President John F. Kennedy crossed picket lines to see the movie, helping to end blacklisting.

via Spartacus (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Spartacus at LACMA

The matte painting of ancient Rome:

spartacus matte painting LACMA

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  1. February 17, 2013

    Truly a shameful time in both American and Hollywood’s history. A wonderful film and a lovely post. Hail Spartacus!

    • February 17, 2013

      Thanks, Mike – the exhibit is one of the best I’ve seen. You enter the galleries into a huge space with two screens playing some of the most evocative film imagery ever made. The retrospective starts with his photography for LOOK magazine and includes a couple of film that were never made… I use this word sparingly, but it was amazing.

      • February 17, 2013

        I would have loved to have seen it. πŸ™‚

      • February 17, 2013

        There was a petition circulating to bring it to the UK, but I think Los Angeles is its last stop.

        Maybe, in time, it will have a permanent home somewhere. I certainly hope so!

      • February 17, 2013

        That would be brilliant. πŸ™‚

  2. George Kaplan
    February 17, 2013

    Amazing seems to be the right word (and you say you use that word sparingly? You are a woman after my own heart! It makes a change from people saying it about such things as a packet of noodles or the ocean being wet, but I digress :)). Glad you got to see that it looks magnificent. As the kidz say “#jealous”. I can only imagine how great it is.
    Maybe the troubles Kubrick had on Spartacus (after taking over from Anthony Mann) encouraged his later ultimate control over his movies?
    The matte painting is great, I really like mattes – forget CGI. Kirk could be a pain but it took some brass and some moral courage to defy the blacklist, and he could be an intense actor. I’m Spartacus! (oh, and hey, what about Gore Vidal writing the oyster scene? Naughty Gore!).
    Was there anything from Lolita, Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb, or 2001 A Space Odyssey?
    Thanks for this piece, George. X.

    • February 17, 2013

      All of the above! With my rotten little camera I snapped pix of Dr. Strangelove designs by Ken Adam and they’ll be up in about half an hour with a link (I think you will enjoy) to a series of interviews with the great Production Designer… Now I’m off to get myself a packet of those noodles you spoke of. It’s dim-sum time in LA.

  3. George Kaplan
    February 17, 2013

    Of course, there are always *amazing* exceptions! (winks). And as if by magic… I just saw that you’d put up the Strangelove post. I will hop over there in the blink of an eye. You’re a marvel!
    “It’s dim -sum time in LA”. Fantastic. Enjoy yr repast, my elegant and adorable american chum, G.

    • February 17, 2013

      I’m in a food stupor – I don’t think any truly elegant doyenne would ever eat the way I did. I am sitting in the sun on the couch, like a boa, waiting for my wits to come back. But, I accept the adorable!
      American Chum

  4. February 17, 2013

    Dear Ms Lester

    I’m Spartacus! Oh no… I’m The Perfumed Dandy. But, you know, in spirit…

    Your poignant post got me thinking what a shame it was that a few more folks in Hollywood didn’t have a ‘I’m Spartacus’ moment of unity with their fellow professionals when the witch hunts started.

    That said, your undoubted loss was our gain in the Old World with our film and tv industries gaining to a massive extent by the exodus of ‘fellow travelers’.

    On Ken Adam, a erstwhile acquaintance of The Dandy’s had a number of beautiful limited edition prints of some of his sets following an exhibition over year many, many years ago.

    I wonder wear that dear man and his snaps are now. I will consult the little black book. You have inspired me to rekindle friendship too – what a truly remarkable woman you are!!

    Yours ever

    The Perfumed Dandy

    • February 17, 2013

      When I was a little girl living in London with my parents there were quite a few Americans in the film industry there… that I never saw here… I wonder if they had been blacklisted? Of course, I should have paid much closer attention.

      I do remember talking to a wonderful older gentleman who worked on Spartacus as an Assistant Director and he told me of combing through the crowds of extras on the lookout for tennis shoes and wristwatches. And, now I can’t even remember his name. Ach.

      Please let me know if you reach your old friend.

      Much love,

      • February 17, 2013

        Dear Ms L
        Of course I shall.
        He was an older gentleman. I do hope that his silence of late is not a bad omen.
        I also have another friend who worked on Mr Kubrick’s last film (the one that dare not speak its name), but that is another story.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

      • February 17, 2013

        I know which one you’re talking about… the one that would have been shocking in 1918… maybe… but set in present time it just made no sense!

        Anticipating hearing all the stories you’ll share.

        With deep appreciation,

  5. February 17, 2013

    This is the other reason this epic remain so great. Helping to break the shameful blacklist can’t be minimized. Good one, Vickie.

    • February 17, 2013

      Blacklist – blech. I didn’t know President Kennedy crossed a picket line to see it – pretty damn admirable.

  6. February 17, 2013

    Everyone else has said all the wonderful things I would have said here about Spartacus, Douglas and Dalton Trumbo. I love the matte painting so very much. That shot in the film where the painting appears with “Rome” inscribed over it was a watershed moment for me as a 10 year old child and sparked my life long interest in Ancient Rome and Roman Epic films. I have a very misty memory of the outside of the theater in Hollywood in 1960. There were a row of Roman medallions on the wall with each actor inset in them. I was mesmerized by that image.
    Thank you for bringing this all back to me… as Peter Ustinov said as Lintulus Batiatus to the roman matrons as they selected the gladiators to fight in the Lunesta in Capua on that fateful afternoon that lead to rebellion….”I tingle”.

    • February 17, 2013

      You can tingle in person if you make your way to Los Angeles anytime before June 30th. Actually, it was you that made me start taking pictures. I kept thinking, “oh! oh! I have to share this with Lanier!”

      You know, off topic, but have you ever been to Sir John Soane’s Museum in London? I think you would LOVE it.

      • February 17, 2013

        Lane and I walked past Sir John’s on a walking tour of the Inns Of Court and both agreed to return before we left London…sadly we did not…there were just too many distractions. So next trip we will tour the Museum… and one hopes such a tour will be in the company of our very own Perfumed Dandy!
        I am so happy I inspired you to take photos. I keep forgetting my camera when I go on outings. That has to be changed.

      • February 17, 2013

        I want to tag along!
        Betcha there’s a camera in your mobile phone (unless you’re like me and half the time it’s immobile and sitting on the kitchen counter where I’ve forgotten I’ve left it.) πŸ˜‰

  7. George Kaplan
    February 17, 2013

    V, If I may be slightly naughty, food can be like sex sometimes there’s no time for elegance you just have it any which way (so to speak), and don’t stop ’til you’ve had enough! And afterwards you just feel happily satiated. Ahem. That’s enough of that, I think I’ve lowered the tone. πŸ™‚
    I imagine you’re one of those women who can absolutely stuff themselves without losing their aura even if you think not. You’re not a mannequin after all, you’re a living breathing woman!
    Yours, the embarrassing, flowery-speaking chevalier.

    • February 17, 2013

      The Laughing Cavalier! (not the painting by Frans Hals) Name that film within a film!… Now, wait, oh, I think it was The Dueling Cavalier — oops — I never was any good at setting up a joke, or telling it!

  8. George Kaplan
    February 17, 2013

    The Duelling Cavalier – Singin’ in the Rain? Babe, we’re on the same wavelength. Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont! Moses Supposes His Toeses Are Roses. The Cavalier scene that gets big laughs when Kelly keeps saying “I Love You” over and over. As luck would have it I’m dressed as a cavalier at this very moment in your honour (;)).
    Whenever I tell a joke or tell a story I screw it up, I can never remember how they go. Guess, I’m Dumb!

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