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

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  538 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
A “lively” memoir by the Hollywood legend about the making of Spartacus, with a foreword by George Clooney (Los Angeles Times).
 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 years after the release of his enduring epic Spartacus, Douglas
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ebook, 220 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published 2012)
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Sharon Penman
Jul 30, 2012 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
Sean Peters
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great short read.

Firstly as a film buff, I will always enjoy a great book about the great film stars, and here we have some great characters and personalities.

Secondly let's not forget the great Kirk Douglas was 95 years old when he wrote this book. His memory is incredible. I would be happy if I am still breathing at 95 years old, and now , this week he has just celebrated his 100 birthday.

I remember and love the great legends of the golden era of the cinema, Kirk Douglas made some great film
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Jim
Sep 24, 2015 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
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Gisela Hausmann
"I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist" by Kirk Douglas is a gift. Everybody who wonders about where the United States is going or could be going should read this book.

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 car
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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
Jun 12, 2012 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
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GloriaGloom
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il macho Kirk e la sua personalissima e pragmatica guerra contro la lista nera. L'avvincente racconto della tormentata lavorazione di Spartacus come oggetto contundente lanciato contro la testa del senatore McCarthy e le sua commissione per le attività antiamericane.
La lingua rozza e diretta del vecchio Douglas sputa vetriolo e amore in parti uguali verso i protagonisti di quell'epopea - Donald Trumbo, Stanley Kubrick, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov,Toni Curtis, produttori e stralette varie. Ep
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Ale Sandoval Tress
“Douglas escogió para escribir el guion a Dalton Trumbo, un guionista puesto en la lista negra, uno de los hombres que habían ido a prisión tras declarar ante el Comité de Actividades sobre sus afiliaciones políticas”

“Su coraje moral al dar crédito público a Trumbo, una acción tan eficaz como arriesgada, pero que supuso el fin de la notoria lista negra de Hollywood”

“No se puede enseñar a otro lo que se aprende con el paso del tiempo, solamente se puede vivir”

“De los Diez de Hollywood, seis eran
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Harley
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film-movies
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
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Douglas Castagna
Great book about making a great film and the long and difficult road traveled to get there. Douglas is back with a book that is on target and informative. Some things are repeated from previous books, but the stories here are all germane to the film and go into great depth. Any student of film, fan of the movie, or of movies in general should really read this book. Highly recommended.
Ignacio
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.
Ben
Mar 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Jefferson
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
McCarthyism, Hollywood, Spartacus and Kirk Douglas

Imagine spending a day getting drunk while talking about Spartacus as it's being made with Laurence ('Larry') Olivier, Dalton Trumbo, and Kirk Douglas--Douglas' memoir I Am Spartacus: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist (2012) is full of such entertaining vignettes.

Lots of appalling details of McCarthyism: 'pompous ass' congressional committee chairmen, contempt of congress prison sentences, black listing, etc. Lots of interesting details on h
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John
As a behind-the-scenes look at the film SPARTACUS, this book is everything you could hope for. Even if you don't care about the movie, you'll be captivated by its long and arduous road to the big screen. I mean, you've got a screenwriter (Dalton Trumbo) who had to hide his involvement and couldn't even be seen on the studio lot. Even worse, he was working off an original novel by another blacklisted writer (Howard Fast), whose initial attempt to adapt it for the screen nearly derailed the entire ...more
Mike Violano
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My father took me to see Spartacus when I was 10 years old and it has long been one of my favorite movies. I found this book by accident; I thoroughly enjoyed Kirk Douglas' retelling of how the movie was made, humorous tales of the cast, and the trials and challenges along the way. I learned a few things I didn't know when I saw the film-- Dalton Trumbo was the screenwriter, Stanley Kubrick came in to replace the original director, and Kirk Douglas was the producer. The encounters with and scree ...more
Joan Ehrnstein
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable

I worked in the industry briefly and have always been interested in all aspects of its history. The blacklist stands as a terrible thing that harmed many people needlessly. I applaud the courage and the action taken by Mr. Douglas to end it.
J. T.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book that reveals both the character of Kirk Douglas and the oppression of the black list in the US during the 50s.
I found myself really liking Douglas in this book and was sad to finish it.
Martin Wegner
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good

Really enjoyed this one. Douglas made the decisions that made the movie so he deserves the right to set the record down. Well done, with a lot of insight.
Cathy
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, showbiz, politics
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
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
Inés
Oct 15, 2016 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
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Monty
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Karen Wyle
Oct 04, 2014 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
Tom Schulte
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having recently watched the fascinating Trumbo movie, this was a natural follow-up read. It tells the story of how Douglas, narrated by his son & actor Michael Douglas, came to be produce and act in this story and how it came to play a leading role in returning writer Trumbo to his rightful role and break the red-scare H'wood blacklist. This is a fascinating back-story on the logistics and filming an epic and the social transformation happening during the post-WW II red scare decades.

The mov
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Andrew
Mar 26, 2014 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
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Jo Stallworth
Jul 05, 2012 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
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
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
Debra Pawlak
May 20, 2016 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
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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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“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.” 2 likes
“I believe much of the divisiveness in the world has been caused by religion, even in the time of Spartacus when they worshipped many gods. What is the purpose of religion? After ninety-five years on this planet, I have come to the conclusion that religion should be based on only one thing: helping your fellow man. If everybody followed that religion—helping his fellow man—armies would vanish overnight.” 1 likes
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