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The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)

Preston Foster , Basil Rathbone , Ernest B. Schoedsack , Merian C. Cooper  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Preston Foster, Basil Rathbone, Alan Hale, John Wood, Louis Calhern
  • Directors: Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper
  • Writers: Boris Ingster, G.B. Stern, James Ashmore Creelman, Jerry Hutchinson, Melville Baker
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000B7MX70
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,689 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Last Days of Pompeii" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

No Description Available.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: NR
Release Date: 22-NOV-2005
Media Type: DVD

Fresh off their monumental success with King Kong, producer Merian Cooper and director Ernest Schoedsack teamed again on The Last Days of Pompeii, another big-scale offering with a special-effects emphasis. Nominally based on the Bulwer-Lytton book, the film invents a new storyline much in the spirit of the Cecil B. DeMille religioso-melodrama school. Preston Foster plays a pacifist blacksmith whose life is ruined by fate; he turns his fighting skills to the gladiatorial arena and raises a foster son. A cameo appearance by Jesus Christ affects the boy but not the man, and it all comes a-cropper years later when Mount Vesuvius gets restless outside Pompeii's city limits. Fond childhood memories of the volcano's eruption should be tempered by the fact that the effects (designed by Kong man Willis O'Brien) are limited to the final 20 minutes of the film, and that the preceding 75 minutes are a slow ride indeed. This film's creakiness makes you appreciate how good DeMille was at whipping up entertainment out of historical yarns. One definite bright spot: Basil Rathbone, bringing his equine deliberation to the role of Pontius Pilate. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Morality and Ashes. September 17, 2006
Produced and ghost directed by Merian C. Cooper, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII is a morality tale loosely based upon minor events in Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's novel THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII. The film stars Preston Foster as Marcus, a simple blacksmith of Pompeii. Marcus is a happy man. He has a beautiful wife and an energetic young son. Though the family doesn't have much money, Marcus is happy at his chosen career and what he has is enough. The man in charge of the arena thinks Marcus would make a formidable gladiator, but he can't seem to convince him to abandon his job as a blacksmith for more money. Marcus' wife and son are tragically run over by a runaway chariot. Unable to pay for medical care because of his modest means his family dies. The loss of his family fills Marcus with despair and fuels an ambition to gain wealth. Thus the second act of the film begins as Marcus begins his new life as a gladiator.

Marcus becomes the finest gladiator in the land, an unbeatable opponent. After one fatal match, Marcus discovers the boy of his fallen foe. The child is now an orphan. Reminded of his own dead son, Marcus adopts the boy as his own. To secure the boys' future and to insure that he will not have to fight in the arena, Marcus begins taking suspicious and dangerous assignments that pay him extremely well and help him become the Master of the Arena itself. While on one of these assignments to Judea, Marcus' son, Flavius is struck down in a freak accident. The child is healed and that encounter changes the boy's life forever. Marcus is grateful, but he is still tainted by the greed and ambition birthed from the grief of his wife and first son. Years later it is revealed that Flavius has been helping slaves and gladiators escape from Pompeii.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A movie with depth and style July 2, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw this movie as a child in the 50's on TV and fell in love with it. My mother would let me cut school in order to see it on tv( and my family was not particularly religious), along with a number of others like Cyrano de Bergerac, Androcles and the Lion, Sign of the cross, and The High and the Mighty, and Captain Sirocco. I combed the tv guide once a week for classics like these. The redeeming quality of all of the movies I become attached to is "nobility". Aside from the awesome eruption of Vesuvius, and awesome it was for its day, and as thrilled as I am about the special effects and the disater movie perspective ....the story is simply ...Sublime.

Preston Foster, in typical post silent era acting style, plays Marcus - with dash and bravura. Marcus is a simple, humble man. He is completely contented with his life as a blacksmith and has a wife and son he cherishes, everything any man could hope for. He is quickly reminded of the foolishness of his take on life by a jaded slave dealer and a kindly but skeptical roman patrician who gives his son a gold coin. Marcus and his wife Julia close shop for the day and set out to celebrate the windfall by purchasing a ball too big for the tiny grasp of his small child. The fates intervine... the ball rolls into the street and Julia and the infant are over run by a speeding chariot. So the saga begins, brilliantly, with such irony, the gift and joy of a gold coin and a new toy leading to a tragedy as Marcus' wife and child both die. Marcus now impoverished, and a broken man.....
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie. . . December 18, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of my all time favorite classics! Basil Rathbone plays Pontious Pilate, a man plagued by questions and doubts with his decision to crucify Christ and whether or not Christ was worthy of crucifiction. This movie deals with what really is important in life and it does it tastefully. Preston Foster is the man who has lost everything, including his family; gains wealth as a fighting gladiator, then comes to the conclusion in the end about what is really valuable. I can watch this film over and over again without getting tired of it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sheer class from Basil Rathbone September 29, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Movies are movies .Books are books .So we should not be too suprised when film makers make changes to novels during the process of tranferring them to the screen .Thus it is that all the movie versions of the Bulwer-Lytton minor classic have concentrated on the relatively unimportant gladiatorial sub plot ,bringing it centre stage .
This is so here in this mid thirties version which really only utilises the book's title and its climax ,the destruction by volcanic activity of the titular city.Its centre is an invented tale ,wholly divorced from the novel, of Marcus ,a blacksmith whose obsession with power and wealth leads him to a state of spiritual poverty.Even when ,while on a visit to Judea.his stricken son is healed by Christ ,Marcus is not sufficiently moved to come to the aid of Christ in his hour of crucifixion .It is not till his city is engulfed by lava that he finds his spiritual awakening.
Preston Foster is adequate as Marcus but a towering performance by Basil Rathbone as Pilate dominates the movie.We see him as a clever ,arrogant but essentially decent man tortured by his capitulation over the crucifixion and the realisation that what he did ,or did not do ,may damn his name throughout time.
The destruction of the city is capably done but is not Willis O'Briens best work by a long chalk .
The mixture of decadence and piety is very reminiscent of the Biblical epics of de Mille .
De Mille did this type of thing with more flair but this will do if you like vintage historical drama
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
movie with a heart
Published 7 days ago by Dante G. Celia
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked the effects here
The latest movie about Pompeii inspired me to look at previous versions, including the silent from long ago and this one from the early 30's. Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Iwataki
4.0 out of 5 stars EXPLODES WITH GREAT FURY
One of the first films about the Pompeii eruption. Okay special effects that beg for the CGI improvement of 2014's Pompeii. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ronald Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Older movie but very good
I really liked this movie, even though it was an older movie and is in black and white. There's a lot of good character development, and it holds your interest throughout. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robin Ferruggia
2.0 out of 5 stars Not this Pompeii
I was trying to find original Last Days of Pompeii. Unfortunately, this was not the one. Scenes jumped around and finally the last 15 minutes is about the volcano.
Published 3 months ago by C. A. Brandstatter
4.0 out of 5 stars the original
I love old movies. Especially those with a great story to be told. If you are offended by Christian idealism, don't watch. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Reliable and fast delivery
Would order again from this distributor. Perfect condition. My mother could not find this movie on her own and was very upset. 86 y/o and loves the silver screen era movies. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Patricia Kolman
4.0 out of 5 stars Do you like history?
If you do... get this DVD.

Although the movie doesn't follow the true events, it is worthy to see how a FATTY (corrupted) society goes down for their wrong doings. Read more
Published 6 months ago by The Professional
4.0 out of 5 stars Great old movie
I didn't know what to expect, and watched this old movie to get the story of Pompeii (Roman city) because of the modern movie about to come out. Read more
Published 7 months ago by P. M. Culpepper Jr.
THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (RKO,1935) is an excellent re-telling of the historic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that pulverized that ancient Roman city. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Casey62
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