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The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama | 18 October 1935 (USA)
In the doomed Roman city, a gentle blacksmith becomes a corrupt gladiator, while his son leans toward Christianity.

Directors:

Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper (uncredited)

Writers:

James Ashmore Creelman (story), Melville Baker (story) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Preston Foster ... Marcus
Alan Hale ... Burbix
Basil Rathbone ... Pontius Pilate
John Wood ... Flavius - as a Man
Louis Calhern ... Prefect (Allus Martius)
David Holt ... Flavius - as a Boy
Dorothy Wilson ... Clodia
Wyrley Birch ... Leaster
Gloria Shea ... Julia
Frank Conroy ... Gaius Tanno
William V. Mong ... Cleon - the Slave Dealer
Murray Kinnell ... Simon - Judean Peasant
Henry Kolker ... Warder
Edward Van Sloan ... Calvus
Zeffie Tilbury ... The Wise Woman
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Storyline

Peaceloving blacksmith Marcus refuses lucrative offers to fight in the arena...until his wife dies for lack of medical care. His life as a gladiator coarsens him, and shady enterprises make him the richest man in Pompeii, while his son Flavius (who met Jesus on a brief visit to Judaea) is as gentle as Marcus once was. The final disaster of Marcus and Flavius's cross purposes is interrupted by the eruption of Vesuvius. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 October 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Untergang von Pompeji See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Very hairy chested Preston Foster was required to submit to a full body wax before appearing bare-chested in this film. See more »

Goofs

The central subplot of the meeting with Jesus is impossible, as Pompeii was destroyed after his death in 79 A.D. Given these dates, Flavius would have been a middle aged man, clearly not the youth in his 20's as portrayed in the film. See more »

Quotes

Gaius Tanno: You remind me of an acrobat in the arena walking on a rope stretched high in the air.
Marcus: Walking on a rope?
Gaius Tanno: Yes, a rope no wider than my thumb.
Marcus: [laughing] I'm not walking on a rope.
Gaius Tanno: Oh, yes, you are. Every poor man is. You think you're balanced nicely, but only money can make you safe. Some little unexpected thing, and you're down... smashed!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The foreword at the beginning of the film is a disclaimer stating that this film is not based on Bulwer-Lytton's novel at all. (It does not use the novel's plot, nor does it have any of the novel's characters.) However, the disclaimer goes on to say that the filmmakers are indebted to him for the description of the destruction of Pompeii. See more »

Alternate Versions

A colorized version was made of this film in 1990. See more »

Connections

Referenced in An Opera of Violence (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An early mixture of "Ben-Hur" , "The Robe" and other biblical epics...
21 October 2007 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Although never entirely flawless, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII ('35) was an ambitious undertaking for RKO to take at that time. The storyline, about a bitter blacksmith who turns gladiator, is really a morality tale wrapped up in biblical settings and given the usual "cast of thousands" publicity by the studio that spent a lot of money in recreating Ancient times.

PRESTON FOSTER was never a particularly charismatic actor, often accused of being "wooden", but there's a sincere element about his performance here that allows the film to work. So too does BASIL RATHBONE, giving some extra dimension to his take on Pontius Pilate.

Interesting to catch a glimpse of WARD BOND as a gladiator--an actor who has appeared in so many classic films it's almost amazing to realize he was kept as busy as he was.

With Max Steiner supplying the score, it's a lesser known gem that makes for enjoyable viewing even if it comes off as a cross between BEN-HUR and THE ROBE and lots of other stories dealing with the effect of the crucifixion on men's lives and their search for the truth.


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