"Quo Vadis, Domine'" (Whither goest Thou, Lord') are the words uttered by St. Peter (Finlay Currie) as he flees Pagan Rome
Los Angeles Times - 04/12/2002
"...A splendid-looking film with elaborate sets and a cast of thousands..."
Entertainment Weekly - 11/14/2008
"Mervyn LeRoy's gorgeously gaudy film details Rome under Nero (Ustinav) as he persecutes Christians and burns his city."
Total Film - 03/01/2009 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he scale still wows and Peter Ustinov's overacting is a masterclass in getting noticed."
MGM turned Henry Sinkiewicz's Nobel Prize-winning novel into one of the most extravagant production in film history. The epic tale is set in the decadence and decay of Nero's Rome, where Christianity is just beginning to foment. Robert Taylor (BILLY THE KID, JOHNNY EAGER) stars as Marcus Vinicius, a Roman military commander who falls in love with Lygia, played by Deborah Kerr (KING SOLOMON'S MINES, THE KING AND I). Lygia has recently converted to Christianity, and Marcus follows suit. The conversion establishes a rift between Marcus and the emperor Nero (Sir Peter Ustinov), who blames the growing religion for the turmoil within his empire, going so far as to throw Christian converts to the lions. But the real appeal of QUO VADIS is the grand Technicolor spectacle of ancient Rome burning, of pagan orgies, of marching armies, and of man-eating lions. Combined with the stunning score by Miklos Rozsa, QUO VADIS is worth watching simply for the orgy of sound and vision it offers.
QUO VADIS is a fabulous saga that dramatizes a decaying Rome under the rule of an insipid, grandiose Nero. All the accoutrements of Ancient Rome are depicted here: chariot races, persecuted Christians battling lions in the arena, Nero's extravagant lifestyle, Rome going up in flames, and more. This was the biggest of the Biblical box-office blockbusters in its time. Peter Ustinov's performance as the lazy, debauched Nero is a standout.
Bible Epic |
Period Piece |
Author Henryk Sienkiewicz received the Nobel Prize for the book QUO VADIS.
The movie had been filmed three times perviously. The 1912 version was one of the first feature-length films ever made, and few theaters owned projectors capable of playing the eight-reel film.
MGM originally planned the film to stoar Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor, with John Huston at the helm. Audrey Hepburn was tested for the lead, but the studio wanted a big-name star and went with Deborah Kerr. Hepburn was unkown by the public at the time.
QUO VADIS stands as one of the most lavish production in film history. The $7 million budget was the largest to date in 1951. The film required 55 stages and a cast of 30,000. Exact returns remain unkown, but some estimates give the film a worldwide box office of $50 million, which when converted to modern sums makes QUO VADIS one of the most successful pictures in history.