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I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  431 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
With a foreword by George Clooney:From Kirk Douglas, Hollywood royalty and bestselling author ofThe Ragman’s Son and My Stroke of Luck,comes the candidstory of the making ofSpartacus, the blockbuster film that broke the blacklist
One of the world’s most iconic movie stars, Kirk Douglas has distinguished himself as a producer, philanthropist, and author of ten works of ficti
ebook, 220 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published 2012)
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Sharon Penman
Jul 30, 2012 Sharon Penman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just loved this book. Spartacus is one of my very favorite films, and it was fascinating to read the behind-the-scenes account of how it was made. With an all-star cast, there were a lot of healthy egos involved and Douglas has some funny stories about their elbowing. And I was intrigued to learn that he was the one who came up with the brilliant "I am Spartacus!" scene at the end of the film, and had to fight with the director to keep it in. It is also an insightful account of the blacklist a ...more
Sep 25, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
This is a surprisingly good book about the difficulty of getting a great film made. And it was written by the man in charge, Actor and Producer Kirk Douglas. I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist tells us not only about the making of the film, but also how this country of ours morphed from McCarthyism to Radical Wingnut Conservatism. It made some interesting connections politically and sociologically, which made the book more valuable to me.

Hollywood books by celebrities tend to
This was one of my monthly book club selections. I was eager to read it because it promised an insider's view of the Hollywood blacklist, when many notable figures were driven out of the film industry in a national frenzy of witch hunting.

I was far less interested in Kirk Douglas himself, but my opinion changed as I read the book. I took it for granted that Douglas' recollections would be self-serving, but the more I read the more I came to admire the actor/producer. His story is fascinating, an
Jun 12, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kirk Douglas is now 95, but in this book he turns his memory back to 1959 when he decided to make the film "Spartacus". This is not simply a film memoir though, as interesting as that might be, because the film had an important and historic event attached to it - the fact a blacklisted writer was given screen credit under their own name for the first time since the fears of McCarthyism.

Dalton Trumbo was one of the most respected writers in Hollywood when he went to jail in 1947 for refusing to i
The amazing thing is that Kirk Douglas was 95 years old when he wrote this book. It is a fascinating memoir about the making of the movie, I Am Spartacus!, and how Douglas broke the Hollywood blacklist for people who were communist or suspected of being communist. He hired a blacklisted writer to write the movie and put his name on the movie. Many blacklisted writers wrote under pseudonyms to support their families.

The movie was based on a book, Spartacus, by Howard Fast, a blacklisted novelist
En este libro autocomplaciente, construido demasiado en torno a anécdotas, Kirk Douglas recuerda el Hollywood de las listas negras y cómo el rodaje de Espartaco contribuyó a acabar con aquel mundo hipócrita donde los guionistas seguían escribiendo bajo otros nombres. Lo he leído de una sentada.
Moncho Monfort Chordá
El propio Kirk Douglas cuenta las dificultades del rodaje de Espartaco y su relación con el guionista Dalton Trumbo. Interesante por las anédotas pero autocomplaciente y de poco valor literario.
Oct 15, 2016 Inés rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Empecé a leer este libro anoche y prácticamente lo he terminado en una sentada (hice una pausa para descansar los ojos, pero me quedé dormida y lo he seguido esta mañana).

Debo de ser de las pocas personas que se han leído el libro sin haber visto nunca la película "Espartaco", pero sí estaba relativamente familiarizada con la época de la lista negra de Hollywood y cómo afectó a muchos de sus artistas, entre ellos el guionista Dalton Trumbo, cuyo biopic he visto este mismo año.

Kirk Douglas tenía
Álvaro Arbonés
Existe un lugar común insidioso, «la realidad supera a la ficción», que ha acabado intoxicando ciertas formas literarias. Como si todas las categorías ontológicas fueran igualmente mensurables. Donde la realidad sólo requiere el hecho de su misma existencia —algo es real sólo por existir, nos guste o no—, la ficción requiere el hecho ser verosímil —algo es (buena) ficción cuando es verosímil, cuando lo creemos como plausible—; en otras palabras, donde la realidad puede sostenerse sobre narrativa ...more
Karen Wyle
Oct 04, 2014 Karen Wyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I seriously considered a lower rating for this book, much as I enjoyed it, due to one glaring omission. In discussing the historical context for the book, namely the activities of the House Committee on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the resultant blacklist, Douglas gives us plenty of indignation about how fundamentally un-American HUAC was, and how freedom of speech and association were unconstitutionally infringed. With this assessment I wholeheartedly ...more
Mar 26, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick and easy read. I love classic Hollywood, and the stories behind the films. I really enjoyed Douglas' setting the making of Spartacus against the historical background of McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist. It made the story about more than just Kirk Douglas and his film.

It really is amazing what actors, producers, directors, and other people do in the making of a film. Their work is so easily loved or hated by the public, especially in this age when everyone can take their
This book is the biography of a film, and the story of an era. It is the inspiring story of brave men, cowardly men, talented people, opportunistic people, demagogues and clowns. Actor (later Director and Producer) Kirk Douglas went about as far out on a limb as he could to Produce the movie Spartacus. There were many problems involving Casting, budgeting, and filming--but the biggest headache was getting the script written by someone who was competent to write the screenplay from Howard Fast's ...more
Debra Pawlak
May 20, 2016 Debra Pawlak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kirk Douglas did a fine job in telling the story of how he made the film 'Spartacus' (1960). He tells it with wit, charm and a brutal honesty of what Hollywood was like after the communist witch hunt. Of course, Dalton Trumbo plays a key role since he wrote the script working under the alias 'Sam Jackson'. Lots of interesting trivia about the famous players--Sir Laurences Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis and Charles Laughton, just to name a few. Thank goodness, Kirk Douglas wrote it all down. ...more
Mar 16, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of the drama behind the making of the epic film SPARTACUS by the producer and star, Kirk Douglas. Kirk looks back 50 years to a time when anti-Communist witch hunts were going on and Hollywood refused to hire anyone accused of Communist sympathies. In a risky move, Douglas chose Dalton Trumbo, a blacklisted screenwriter, to write the story of Spartacus, the slave who rebelled against the power of Rome.
Writing with a sense of humor, Kirk tells of his struggles to make his epic movie an
Apr 18, 2014 Obxboy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only a memoir of one of my favorite films from one of the primary players, but a story of a very dark time in our country: the Red Scare of the 50s and the Blacklist. I listened to this book, read by Michael Douglas, who is an admirable stand-in for his dad. The author writes from a place of humility. While Spartacus, a film produced by Kirk Douglas, is regularly pointed to as the picture that 'broke' the blacklist, Douglas gives himself very little credit. As he hired the banned screenwrite ...more
Apr 12, 2016 ElaineY rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Narrator: Michael Douglas

Very listenable. I enjoyed this hugely and while I'd heard about the Hollywood Blacklist, I was never interested enough to find out more. Douglas filled in the blanks for me and despite not being much of a movie person, preferring to read than watch, I was, nevertheless, riveted by his account of the struggles he faced in making Spartacus.

Douglas' memoir is lively and well-told and only made me wish there was an audio version of his aut
Oct 12, 2014 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
This was very quick reading on the making of Spartacus. I didn't realize that Kirk Douglas was the force behind making the movie and how much was at stake for him personally. He had to secure money, negotiate between star egos, change leading ladies mid-filming and work with writers and directors. The novel was already written by Howard Fast while he was in jail for defying the House Un-American Activities Committee. He thought Dalton Trumbo, a writer who had gone to jail as one of the “Unfrien ...more
Stuart McIntosh
Jun 10, 2016 Stuart McIntosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the top three books I read in 2014. These are clear and precise recollections of the legend presented in a very coherent fashion. Who knew that so many factors impacted on the making of this seminal film? The fight to make this movie is worthy of the struggle of the lead character. I read this after enjoying the previous autobiography of Kirk Douglas. I can see why this is a book all on its own. So many different elements. It's a must for those interested in film making but also those int ...more
Dec 01, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot more than I expected. The audio version is read by the authors son, Michael, and you can't miss the family connection. I have more respect for the film than ever, after reading this book, despite knowing that it is a work of fiction, based on real events. I have even more respect for the cast. I got to see some of myself in Kirk, the perfectionist, and the temper when things didn't go well. I appreciate the sage words of the older Kirk, which gives me hope to mellow some day, hopefully pri ...more
Linda S Adams
Jan 10, 2015 Linda S Adams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite a time in American experience

Only those of us over the age of 50, and really 60 is more like it, can remember what it was like during the McCarthy era.. I am one of those. Kirk Douglas's book compellingly tells what it was like in Hollywood during that time. He is also a gifted storyteller so in addition to learning about the blacklist, we are given a peek behind-the-scenes at making a blockbuster movie. I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the insight into the McCarthy era and the blacklist
Oct 08, 2014 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kirk Douglas gives us a fascinating memoir on the making of an epic movie during the shameful era of Hollywood blacklists. Spartacus had some of the biggest stars of the day Kirk, Lawrence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis and Jeanne Simmons. Listening to the interplay among this outsized egos was fascinating.

But more importantly, the book reminds us of the damage the blacklists had on the careers of those who stood up for their rights in the face of the House on Unamerican
David Macpherson
A pretty good movie book about the making of Spartacus. The stories are well told and funny and kind of unbelievable, but the most unbelievable part is how Kirk Douglas single handedly stopped the Hollywood blacklist by hiring and crediting Dalton Trumbo. It is a lot of back patting and self congratualtion. I looked it up after reading this and found an Atlantic Monthly article that questioned the claims Douglas makes in this book. It was kind of what I was thinking when I read it. With that cav ...more
Erasmus Craven
Dec 11, 2014 Erasmus Craven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cine, biografia
Los recuerdos de Kirk Douglas en referencia al rodaje de Espartaco van mucho mas allá del cine. Son un trocito de historia americana, un foco en el pasado oscuro de persecuciones y desconfianza.
La verdad es que me esperaba una visión mas ensalzadora de la figura del actor, pero lo cierto es que Kirk Douglas se nos muestra mucho mas humano de lo que cabria esperar, con sus miedos, sus preocupaciones y con la determinación, por encima de todo, de acabar la película, que a la postre le llevaría a a
Jo Stallworth
Aug 10, 2012 Jo Stallworth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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 o ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. I've read several of Kirk Douglas's novels in the past and they were all very good, but this true story of the making of the 1960 movie "Spartacus" is really something special. Written by Kirk (star and co-producer) fifty years after the movie was released, this is not your average "making of" book. "Spartacus" is a great movie in its own right (starring a lot of the big stars of the time - Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis and the beaut ...more
Gavin Smith
This is a superb read. Douglas writes with a casual conversational tone that's more than a little reminiscent of Bob Evans in The Kid Stays in the Picture. This really works for the book as it feels as if you've somehow stumbled across Douglas in a quiet bar sipping on a martini and he has decided to spin you a yarn about the old days. While Douglas is strident in his criticism of the Hollywood blacklist and the political climate of the time in general, he rarely sounds preachy and comes across ...more
Paula C Roesch
Jan 05, 2015 Paula C Roesch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting Read

I love reading about the minutiae of film making, and Mr. Douglas brings the paranoia and injustice of McCarthyism to life through his story of the making of this epic movie.
I enjoy the writing style and the behind the scenes details of getting a big budget film made.
This made for a lovely afternoon read.
Jota Houses
Kirk Douglas nos cuenta como el solito acabó con la caza de brujas y realizó Espartaco, a pesar de McCarthy, Nixon, Kubrick, Ustinov, Olivier y, curiosamente, Carmen Polo de Franco. No dejan de ser las historias del agüelo Cebolleta y no termina de coordinar con la versión de Ustinov que había leído previamente pero entretiene.
Kirk Douglas is an engaging writer with something to say. It was because of his courageous decision to give Dalton Trumbo full credit as the screenwriter for Spartacus that the despicable Hollywood blacklist finally ended. Aside from the story of the end of the blacklist, this is a very entertaining read about what it was like to make a big budget movie in 1960. The script was rewritten countless times, the actors all argued over whose scenes were bigger, and the director, a young Stanley Kubric ...more
May 25, 2016 Wanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was thoroughly surprised I enjoyed this book. Of course, it didn't help that Kirk's son Michael brought the story to life (lol). I think people sometimes rewrite their history. Nevertheless, it was educational and gave great insight on human behavior.
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Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch, ) is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Out of the Past (1947), Champion (1949), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Lust for Life (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Vikings (1958), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the ...more
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