Spartacus movie poster

Spartacus was one of only three films to win Best Picture Drama at the Golden Globes and not receive a Best Picture nomination from the Academy Awards. The other two were East of Eden (1955) and The Cardinal (1963). Another ancient Rome epic (right on the heels of Ben-Hur), this one gained legendary status thanks largely to lead actor and co-producer Kirk Douglas, who fought vehemently to give proper credit to blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Even director Stanley Kubrick had some problems with it: Douglas didn't back off one inch. And he won his battle. Spartacus received six Golden Globe nominations (yet it won only for Best Picture), including Laurence Olivier for Best Actor (Burt Lancaster prevailed for Elmer Gantry) and director Kubrick (lost to Jack Cardiff for Sons and Lovers).        

The fact that Trumbo received his due credit effectively ended the Hollywood blacklist. Kirk Douglas was very happy at the Golden Globe Award ceremony – held at the Ambassador Hotel on March 16, 1961 – and spoke against blacklisting and censorship. Universal’s executives cut many scenes because they were deemed too violent and gruesome (including many battle scenes between the slaves lead by Spartacus – played by Kirk Douglas – and the Romans). The original version also included a scene where Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier) attempts to seduce Antonius (Tony Curtis): the Production Code Administration and the Legion of Decency both objected. At one point Geoffrey Shurlock, representing the censors, suggested it would help if the reference in the scene to a preference for oysters or snails was changed to truffles and artichokes. In the end, the scene was cut but restored in the 1991 print.

It took 167 days for Stanley Kubrick to shoot this film, and six weeks were spent directing an elaborate battle sequence in which 8,500 extras re-created the clash between the Roman troops and Spartacus' slave army. Kirk Douglas had an unhappy time for most of the production, and openly said it was difficult working with Kubrick. Despite the film being a huge box-office success, Kubrick disowned Spartacus, even though it's now ranked among the very best of historical epics, and he didn't attend the Golden Globe ceremony. He was nominated for a Golden Globe four times but never won.