Synopses & Reviews
From Kirk Douglas, Hollywood royalty and bestselling author of The Ragman’s Son and My Stroke of Luck, comes the candid story of the making of Spartacus, 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 years after the release of his enduring epic Spartacus, Douglas reveals the riveting drama behind the making of the legendary gladiator film. Douglas began producing the movie in the midst of the politically charged era when Hollywood’s moguls refused to hire anyone accused of Communist sympathies. In a risky move, Douglas chose Dalton Trumbo, a blacklisted screenwriter, to write Spartacus. Trumbo was one of the “Unfriendly Ten,” men who had gone to prison rather than testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee about their political affiliations. Douglas’s source material was already a hot property, as the novel Spartacus was written by Howard Fast while he was in jail for defying HUAC. With the financial future of his young family at stake, Douglas plunged into a tumultuous production both on- and off-screen. As both producer and star of the film, he faced explosive moments with young director Stanley Kubrick, struggles with a leading lady, and negotiations with giant personalities, including Sir Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, and Lew Wasserman. Writing from his heart and from his own meticulously researched archives, Kirk Douglas, at ninety-five, looks back at his audacious decisions. He made the most expensive film of its era—but more importantly, his moral courage in giving public credit to Trumbo effectively ended the notorious Hollywood blacklist. A master storyteller, Douglas paints a vivid and often humorous portrait in I Am Spartacus! The book is enhanced by newly discovered period photography of the stars and filmmakers both on and off the set.
In his own words, Kirk Douglas tells the story of making the film that broke the blacklist in Hollywood“An entertaining and informative look at the troubled gestation of a film of both artistic and social significance.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Kirk Douglas is many things . . . But he is, first and foremost, a man of extraordinary character. The kind that’s formed when the stakes are high. The kind we always look for at our darkest hour.” —George Clooney
"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
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About the Author
Kirk Douglas is a renowned actor whose work on and off the screen has been rewarded by three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Medal of Freedom. Through his production company, Bryna, Douglas has produced acclaimed films such as The Vikings, Lonely Are the Brave, Paths of Glory
, and Seven Days in May.
He has penned ten novels and memoirs, including The Ragman’s Son
(1988). His 1960 epic, Spartacus,
based on the Howard Fast novel of the same name, is credited with helping to end the practice of blacklisting film professionals who had refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Douglas appeared in some ninety movies before retiring from film acting in 2004. In 2009, he starred in an autobiographical one-man show called Before I Forget
at the Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles. Douglas maintains an active life in Beverly Hills and Montecito, where he resides with his beloved wife Anne.