Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist Paperback – June 12, 2012
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"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
In his own words, Kirk Douglas tells the story of making the film that broke the blacklist in Hollywood
Top customer reviews
In the opening chapter, Douglas muses,
"... When I look back at Spartacus today— more than fifty years after the fact— I’m amazed that it ever happened at all. Everything was against us— the McCarthy-era politics, competition with another picture, everything..."
Kirk Douglas begins the book by describing how his career as an actor took off, how he started his production company, and his family, while the McCarthy trials were going on. Though he is appalled by what's going on, he is also happy that he is not affected. Douglas describes the injustice; that screen writer Dalton Trumbo went to jail during for failing to raid on fellow industry professionals.
The fear is great. About director Frank Capra regarding "Roman Holiday":
"... “Capra passed because he smelled a Red,” replied Willy. “He thinks this story was written by some guy on the blacklist and he wants no part of it.”..."
It was of course Dalton Trumbo, who wrote the script.
Douglas meets Stanley Kubrik and shoots the famous anti-war movie "Paths of Glory," one of my favorites. Here is how it happened:
"... Stanley responded with a question of his own. “Have you ever read a book called Paths of Glory?” I shook my head. He handed me a script with that title. ... I took it home and read it that night. It knocked me out. Stanley was my first call the next morning. “You wrote this?” I asked. “Yes,” he answered, calm as always. “With Jim Thompson and Calder Willingham.” “Stanley, I love this picture! We are going to make it! It will never make a nickel, but we have to make it!” And that was how Stanley Kubrick came into my life. Paths of Glory was set to shoot in the spring of 1957.
I feel that it is then that Douglas' mind-set is changing. His mind-set is evolving to, "I can no longer be a bystander." Douglas falls in love with Howard Fast's novel "Spartacus." Fast too was in imprisoned during the McCarthy trials. To me, it is reasonable that helped Fast come up with the concept of "Spartacus."
And, Douglas wants to turn it into a movie, never mind what the obstacles. Douglas also wants to hire the finest actors to give the movie the backbone to become a success.
Douglas' biggest problem? - Fast is incapable of writing a great script to his own novel.
That's where Trumbo comes into play, again. And, slowly but surely the pieces fall together.
"... There’s always been a certain part of my personality that kicks in when people tell me I can’t do something. “You can’t make Spartacus.” “You can’t trust Sam Norton.” I’d had enough of being told “You can’t.” ..."
As the script evolves, seemingly simultaneously, Kirk Douglas "the Rebel" grows to become Kirk Douglas "the Honorable Rebel," the man who will break the Blacklist, more or less alone, against all odds, just like "Spartacus." Thank God, Kirk Douglas' life story has a happier ending.
Knowing the movie so well I can't help but think that Douglas put his and his industry professionals friends' thoughts into words when Spartacus says, "I pray for a son who will be born free."
The movie industry wanted to be "free", too; this movie, "Spartacus," was their vehicle, in a double sense. All of them grew with the movie's story line and in the end the movie became their vehicle to tell the world, that McCarthyism and Black-listing was over. And, Kirk Douglas/Spartacus was the man who elected to fight for it, against the odds.
The book is very personal, in part shocking, in part funny, and sprinkled with hilarious anecdotes.
Every chapter starts with a quote from the movie, for me the most significant being
“When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life; a slave loses its pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.” —Kirk Douglas as Spartacus
These days, when we watch the news we see and hear thing which should be shocking to any American. Words of fear and "black-listing" others drive the dialog. I have always believe that
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. - George Santayana
Is a brilliant quote. Thus it makes sense to learn from Kirk Douglas/Spartacus' views.
"... Fear breeds fear. These men— people like Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer, and Harry Cohn— were terrified their great power would be taken away from them in a heartbeat if their loyalty to America was ever called into question. So they became superpatriots. And to prove themselves right-minded, they were more than willing to sacrifice the lives of others, even their fellow Jews. They were like the Vichy government in France, collaborators who held on to their influence and position at the expense of their fellow countrymen..."
We can't let that happen again! Kirk Douglas' book "I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist" is an entertaining reminder, what would have to happen to break a cycle - again.
PS: This book is a beautiful homage to Dalton Trumbo, who "... was a man who loved life. He loved living it, he loved describing it, he loved affecting it...."
5!* stars, Mr. Douglas, I tip my hat.
You are Spartacus, and it is our duty to stand besides you and say "I am Spartacus."
Gisela Hausmann, author & Amazon review expert
It's such a gift to see back 50-60 years through the ever-clear eyes of 95 year old Kirk Douglas. He's now 97...and has just come out with a book of poetry. Long live Spartacus!
Love Kirk Douglas and so glad that not only is he a great performer, but he is also an activist who made a difference. Its so interesting learning about the ins and outs of making a movie. The loves, hates, deals, etc. that in itself would have made a great book, however, Kirk was active in getting writers and actors etc. who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era, hired and given due credit.
It took awhile, but it finally happened. Very entertaining and filled with facts I never knew. I would have read it only because it was written by Kirk and I like his writing, but then to find out that he was instrumental in putting the people who were not allowed to work, jobs, and hired them himself. They finally were making it in the world where they always belonged and owed a lot of it to Kirk. Great book, great story. Sad, but great.