Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Last Days of Pompeii|
Actors: Preston Foster, Basil Rathbone, Alan Hale, John Wood, Louis Calhern
Directors: Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Television
No Description Available. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: NR Release Date: 22-NOV-2005 Media Type: DVD
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Morality and Ashes.
tvtv3 | Sorento, IL United States | 09/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Produced and ghost directed by Merian C. Cooper, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII is a morality tale loosely based upon minor events in Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's novel THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII. The film stars Preston Foster as Marcus, a simple blacksmith of Pompeii. Marcus is a happy man. He has a beautiful wife and an energetic young son. Though the family doesn't have much money, Marcus is happy at his chosen career and what he has is enough. The man in charge of the arena thinks Marcus would make a formidable gladiator, but he can't seem to convince him to abandon his job as a blacksmith for more money. Marcus' wife and son are tragically run over by a runaway chariot. Unable to pay for medical care because of his modest means his family dies. The loss of his family fills Marcus with despair and fuels an ambition to gain wealth. Thus the second act of the film begins as Marcus begins his new life as a gladiator.
Marcus becomes the finest gladiator in the land, an unbeatable opponent. After one fatal match, Marcus discovers the boy of his fallen foe. The child is now an orphan. Reminded of his own dead son, Marcus adopts the boy as his own. To secure the boys' future and to insure that he will not have to fight in the arena, Marcus begins taking suspicious and dangerous assignments that pay him extremely well and help him become the Master of the Arena itself. While on one of these assignments to Judea, Marcus' son, Flavius is struck down in a freak accident. The child is healed and that encounter changes the boy's life forever. Marcus is grateful, but he is still tainted by the greed and ambition birthed from the grief of his wife and first son. Years later it is revealed that Flavius has been helping slaves and gladiators escape from Pompeii. Marcus is crushed, but loves his son so deeply that he will do everything in his power to protect him. Then the volcano erupts and judgment comes.
Hoping to capitalize on the success of KING KONG, Merian C. Cooper invested a great deal of time and money into this picture. Watching the film one can tell that it was an expensive picture to make (at the time). The sets are lavish and are quite reminiscent of a Cecil B. de Mille picture. The movie has some of the same religious overtones and morality of a de Mille picture, too. But a Cecil B. de Mille picture this is not. The screenplay is basically a morality play forced into the usual three-act structure. Foster does a decent job in his role, but he and everyone else in the cast is outshone by Basil Rathbone who portrays Pontius Pilate. Rathbone brings an element of humanity that is often lacked in other portrayals of the famed leader. He illustrates that arrogance of Pilate, but tempers it with sensitivity and a tortured conscious over his dealings with Jesus.
When it was initially released, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII was a flop and the film had to be re-released several times (often as a double bill with King Kong) in order to earn back its cost. Over seventy years later, the movie hasn't changed much. It still comes off as being an average movie with one outstanding performance. For film buffs it's worth watching for Rathbone's performance. Anyone who likes big spectacle films might enjoy it as well as anyone who likes old-time Bible-type films."
Sheer class from Basil Rathbone
F. J. Harvey | Birmingham England | 09/29/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Movies are movies .Books are books .So we should not be too suprised when film makers make changes to novels during the process of tranferring them to the screen .Thus it is that all the movie versions of the Bulwer-Lytton minor classic have concentrated on the relatively unimportant gladiatorial sub plot ,bringing it centre stage .
This is so here in this mid thirties version which really only utilises the book's title and its climax ,the destruction by volcanic activity of the titular city.Its centre is an invented tale ,wholly divorced from the novel, of Marcus ,a blacksmith whose obsession with power and wealth leads him to a state of spiritual poverty.Even when ,while on a visit to Judea.his stricken son is healed by Christ ,Marcus is not sufficiently moved to come to the aid of Christ in his hour of crucifixion .It is not till his city is engulfed by lava that he finds his spiritual awakening.
Preston Foster is adequate as Marcus but a towering performance by Basil Rathbone as Pilate dominates the movie.We see him as a clever ,arrogant but essentially decent man tortured by his capitulation over the crucifixion and the realisation that what he did ,or did not do ,may damn his name throughout time.The destruction of the city is capably done but is not Willis O'Briens best work by a long chalk .
The mixture of decadence and piety is very reminiscent of the Biblical epics of de Mille .
De Mille did this type of thing with more flair but this will do if you like vintage historical drama"
Good history of film but not "good history"
TammyJo Eckhart | Bloomington, Indiana United States | 07/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's always interesting to see how different directors, writers, producers and actors portray historical events over the decades. This is a great example of the hyper Christianization and moralizing that has been popular at various times. For it's period, the movie is pretty good in terms of acting and special effects though it will make the modern viewer laugh or roll their eyes I'm sure.
In terms of history, frankly the religious aspects are far over played and social dynamics are a bit far fetched. The social and moral questions are far more 20th century than first century so take it all with a grain of salt. However there are some good historical things as well so just know your Roman history and you'll do fine when viewing this otherwise just see it as entertainment."