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

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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  296 ratings  ·  53 reviews
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 fiction and memoir.Now,more than fifty
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ebook, 218 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 2012)
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Sharon Penman
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
Paul
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
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Susan
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
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Karen Wyle
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
Andrew
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
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Monty
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
Obxboy
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
Kathaileen
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
Linda S Adams
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
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Barbara
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
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Erasmus Craven
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
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Jo Stallworth
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
Cathy
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
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.
Ireneirenegoodman.com
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
Kathleen Hagen
I Am Sparticus, the making of a Movie, the Breaking of the Blacklist, by Kirk Douglas, narrated by Michael Douglas, Produced by Brilliance Audio, Downloaded from audible.com.

This book narrates two major events in Kirk Douglas’ life, the blacklisting of some of the best actors and producers and screenwriters in the 1950’s, and the three-year marathon it took for him to produce Sparticus, and play the leading role. He picked some of those same talented blacklisted screenwriters to help make this m
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Elizabeth Miller
A Strong Story.

Although I lived through this period, I learned a lot from Kirk's writing. He took pains to be fair to all sides. It is an easy read, something we should learn from, so maybe it will never happen again.
Ben
Anyone who didn't live through the '50s probably doesn't fully appreciate the extent of the Hollywood blacklist. I didn't, until I read this book. You should too, even if you're not a huge fan of Kirk Douglas or Spartacus.
Carol and Gary Curtis
Fascinating! All of the descriptions going on while the blacklist was in full swing is hard to believe. An excellent movie came out of all this upheaval is even more amazing. Well done, definitely worth he time.
Alexa
A very insightful (if short) view of Hollywood in the time of the blacklist and the making of Spartacus. I enjoyed that Kirk Douglas is very honest with his own shortcomings as well as those of everyone around him
Vince
Wanted to like this book...

But too much mentioned and not elaborated on. Incident happen and then are not either resolved or mentioned again. However it can't be denied that the movie helped dismantle the black list.
Ryan Moore
I've been a Michael Douglas fan for years, but I've known little about his father. This is a great look at how the blacklisting of the 1950s was overcome.
Karla
More like 3 1/2ish, mainly because in books like these, the voice of the research assistant comes through with the recitation of facts that kinds of removes the narrative from the "author's" voice. (Douglas' asst. was David Bender, who I've heard periodically on progressive talk radio and I felt like I was hearing him talk part of the time.)

For a quick and light memoir written by one of the main Spartacus figures, it was good. But I'd love to read more about it in context of the time and other d
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Bert  Hopkins
An enjoyable read! Learned alot about the McCarthy era and the damage inflicted on our country.
Bob L
What a wonderful book! This is not only a poignant memoir about the making of Spartacus, but it also provides first-hand insight into McCarthyism and the climate of fear in the US in the 1950s. In so doing, Douglas holds up a mirror to the mood in America today. The paranoia and demagoguery that were prevalent then remain a part of our culture decades later.
Cheryl
Great read. Douglas is a natural storyteller and I loved his reflections back on his younger self.
Nathalie
Borrowed this one from Dad, and I was keen to read it since I use the first hour of this film when I teach a unit on gladiators.

The story of the original work and its inspiration (the blacklisting of the 50s) was so fascinating as was reading about the process of film making. I loved all the juicy details about Olivier, Kubrick, and Ustinov's over the top personalities and the story of Douglas' life too. The pictures from the film were just awesome.

I didn't care for his style - sometimes way too
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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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