Criterion Critics

Spartacus (1960)

Episode #2

Universal Pictures released Spartacus to theaters on November 17, 1960. Stanley Kubrick directed the film starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, and Jean Simmons.

‘Spartacus’ Criterion Summary

Stanley Kubrick directed a cast of screen legends—including Kirk Douglas as the indomitable gladiator that led a Roman slave revolt—in the sweeping epic that defined a genre and ushered in a new Hollywood era. The assured acting, lush Technicolor cinematography, bold costumes, and visceral fight sequences won Spartacus four Oscars; the blend of politics and sexual suggestion scandalized audiences. Today Kubrick’s controversial classic, the first film to openly defy Hollywood’s blacklist, remains a landmark of cinematic artistry and history.

Special Features


  • Stunning new 16×9 transfer of the 1991 fully restored Super Technirama version
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack
  • Audio commentary by producer-actor Kirk Douglas, actor Peter Ustinov, novelist Howard Fast, producer Edward Lewis, restoration expert Robert A. Harris, and designer Saul Bass
  • Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s scene-by-scene analysis
  • Restoration demonstration
  • Rare deleted scenes
  • Vintage newsreel footage
  • 1960 promotional interviews with Jean Simmons and Peter Ustinov
  • 1992 video interview with Peter Ustinov
  • Behind-the-scenes “gladiatorial school” footage
  • The 1960 documentary The Hollywood Ten, plus archival documents about the blacklist
  • Original storyboards by Saul Bass
  • Hundreds of production stills, lobby cards, posters, print ads, and a comic book
  • Sketches by director Stanley Kubrick
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Additional Alex North score compositions
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

Please let us know what you think of the film in the comments section, and rate this movie from one to five stars below as well. If there is a film you’d like us to review, send us an email at with your name, location, and film choice. And finally, if you are of the social media persuasion, you can look the MHM Podcast Network up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and if you do, please give us a follow when you find us.

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Universal Pictures released Spartacus to theaters on November 17, 1960. Stanley Kubrick directed the film starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, and Jean Simmons.

User Rating: 4.73 ( 2 votes)
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  1. Nice to hear the love for nightmare Alley! Chris and Shane mentioned it as well on the last noir podcast. I certainly think it’s a possibility, criterion has been doing a lot of noirs lately – Moonrise, Breaking Point, Detour, In A Lonely Place, Asphalt Jungle, They Live By Night. All are worth seeing, if you haven’t. Very excited about Short Cuts podcast

    1. Also anthony Mann is a pretty highly regarded director today by film critics. He Showed violence in sort of an unprecedented way for the time. Made some great noirs(Raw Deal, Border Incident), great westerns(Winchester 73, The Naked Spur, Man of the West) great epics(el cid, fall of the Roman Empire)
      It’s sort of odd that he had so much conflict on Spartacus with Kirk Douglas, yet they ended up working together a few years later on Heroes of Telemark.

      1. I haven’t compiled a top 100, but if I did it’s certainly possible nightmare Alley would make it. Are you a fan of Short Cuts?

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