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I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist Paperback – June 12, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An entertaining and informative look at the troubled gestation of a film of both artistic and social significance.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Kirk Douglas is many things . . . But he is, first and foremost, a man of extraordinary character. The kind that’s formed when the stakes are high. The kind we always look for at our darkest hour.” —George Clooney

"A glorious book . . . Kirk Douglas is a wonderful writer and a courageous one, which should surprise no one. Courage has been his battle cry all his life." —Steven Spielberg

"The making of I Am Spartacus! is a remarkable story told with the wit and charm of a great entertainer. Kirk Douglas revisits the complex political and social context surrounding the production of a cinema classic." —Henry Kissinger

"Hugely entertaining." —Liz Smith, Chicago Tribune

"I Am Spartacus! is a great read." —Bill O'Reilly

"Kirk Douglas is a lion." —Bill Maher

"A lively new memoir about one of [Douglas'] greatest triumphs." —Los Angeles Times

"Carries the power of a self-made man who continues to meet life on his own terms but with grace and aplomb." —Associated Press

Book Description

In his own words, Kirk Douglas tells the story of making the film that broke the blacklist in Hollywood

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media; No Additional Printings Listed edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453254803
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453254806
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
That tough guy persona? Not an act. At 95, Kirk Douglas's voice and his intellect are as clear and cogent as ever in this powerful memoir. Douglas, author of The Ragman's Son and My Stroke of Luck and the producer of Spartacus, brings his ferocious wit and keen insight to this book about the making of the film that helped put an end to the Hollywood Blacklist. While he explores the timeless themes of scapegoatism, integrity, and betrayal faced by the Hollywood Ten, he likens the age of McCarthyism to other times of national division in our history, such as our own time of political discord and the Civil War. It is the story of the creative souls that survived, and those who were crushed by, the Communist witchhunt and how the stars and elements aligned to bring the 1960 blockbuster Spartacus to the silver screen, including the author's determination to hire "convicts" Dalton Trumbo and Howard Fast to make it happen. Overall, an enjoyable and invigorating read and a superb addition to any History or Biography collection. Includes illustrations and a foreword by George Clooney.
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Format: Paperback
I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist is a great little book about the making of the classic film Spartacus, written by its star and producer Kirk Douglas, some fifty years after the film's release. But it's also more than that, a lot more. As the sub-title reveals, it's also about the role the making of that film played in the breaking of the infamous Hollywood blacklist of the 1950's and early 60's where writers, actors, directors and others in the film industry lived in fear of being named in a Congressional investigation into alleged communist subversion in the film industry that could end up leaving them unemployed and unemployable.

At 209 pages, I Am Spartacus is not a long book, but it's filled with a treasure trove of details, photos and anecdotes relating to the film. It's also about Hollywood and the movie industry at the time, about how films got to be made (or in some cases, how films ended up not being made), and about Kirk Douglas himself who is open and unsparing of himself as he relates his various actions and decisions, the ups and downs of his career and his personal life during that time, with uncommon candor.

The book reveals a lot about how the film started with a book by Howard Fast and then went through a number of evolutions in the script, complicated by the fact that Douglas had secretly hired the award-winning but blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo to turn the book into a screenplay. Added to that were the egos of established big-name actors like Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov whom Douglas persuaded to join the film by showing each of them different versions of the script that gave their characters more prominence.
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Format: Paperback
I've never been a big fan of Kirk Douglas although I enjoyed him in movies such as SEVEN DAYS IN MAY, LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, THE VIKINGS and PATHS OF GLORY. I have a dim memory of seeing SPARTACUS but have since realized it was an important film for many reasons. Douglas, the film's producer and star, recounts the fascinating efforts that resulted in the production of that 1960 Universal Studios blockbuster in I AM SPARTACUS, a 2012 Open Road release.

Judging from the barriers and problems Douglas faced in producing SPARTACUS, he probably deserves some sort of medal for persevering. The author of the source material - Howard Fast - turned in an unfilmable script. The scriptwriter Douglas turned to - Dalton Trumbo - was a blacklisted author whose involvement could derail the film's production if revealed in the press. A rival studio was filming a similar flick and its film seemed far ahead in production. Douglas' first director didn't work out and his replacement - Stanley Kubrick - was talented but trouble of another sort. Some of the actors hired for the film were critical of the material or worked to enrich their parts and so on.

Yet Douglas weathered all the problems and produced an award-winning film that was Universal's biggest moneymaker for ten years. And it helped break the blacklist that had denied employment to so many Hollywood talents suspected as being Communists or Communist sympathizers.

I AM SPARTACUS is an informative and insightful insider's guide to the SPARTACUS saga. Not having read any of Douglas' previous books, I was pleasantly surprised by his writing skills. The book is an entertaining and surprisingly quick read on an important American film. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My son came home one night from an appearance of Kirk Douglas at a screening of Ace In The Hole here in LA with a signed copy of this book. I was intrigued and ordered my own copy from Amazon. I am very glad I did. This is a remarkably touching and candid reminiscence from a living Hollywood legend about the incredibly complex process involved in making an epic and historical film. The subplot around the blacklist of the 50s and early 60s and the intrigue involved in using a talented but blacklisted writer under a pseudonym adds another fascinating dimension to the entire story. Even without that key aspect the way that Kirk Douglas relates the behind the scenes stories about his fellow cast members, studio executives, directors and others makes for an entertaining and enlightening read. I have seen Spartacus several times in my life but after reading this I am more than ready to invest another 3 and a half hours to view it again in light of the knowledge of it's creation that I gained from reading this fine book. Anyone interested in film making or film history needs to read this one.
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