Quo Vadis (1951)

Genres - Epic, Drama, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Historical Epic, Religious Epic, Sword-and-Sandal  |   Run Time - 171 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Betzold

Many critics found this MGM spectacular bloated and tedious; others found the magnificent sets and costumes, and the production's fantastic scale, a lustrous example of the Hollywood historical epic. The story, based on a classic novel by Henryk Siekiewicz, concerns the Roman emperor Nero and his persecution of early Christians. It centers on a love affair between a Roman commander (Robert Taylor) and a young Christian woman (Deborah Kerr). Peter Ustinov plays Nero with a thunderous, depraved, over-the-top bravado. The film contains scenes of horrible brutality and is never subtle. Quo Vadis? received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Ustinov, but won none. This is one of several films based on the novel, including silent epics in 1913 and 1925 and an update in 1985.