Hadn’t seen Spartacus in maybe 25 years. No idea why it had been so long. Then Laurence Olivier, as Crassus, is looking over a bunch of newly delivered slaves. One is Tony Curtis. What is your name, Crassus demands of Tony. Bernius Swartus I blurted out loud. And I suddenly remembered why I had not seen Spartacus in twenty-five years, because my wife had blurted out Bernius Swartus at that very point the last time I saw it, and we both dissolved into giggles, hours of endless giggles. The movie never seems to end. It goes on and on and on. Dalton Trumbo was being paid by the word, obviously. No wonder he was blacklisted. At one point the plot crawled to the pace of the really slow parts of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with Bernius Swartus instead of Halius Computerus. Just who do you have to fuck to get out of this picture Jean Simmons asked. That is the legend. Sweet Jean Simmons saying fuck. But she didn’t, really, it was Bernius Swartus who asked that. Jean laughed, getting remarkably naked for a movie in 1960. Tempting, but one more Kirk Douglas speech and I would explode. He’s starting to sound like Joe Flaherty. I switch to Bridge on the River Kwai for a bit, a vastly better flick, but when an old lady starts talking about catheters I switch back again. I am Spartacus, says Bernius. I am Spartacus, says John Ireland. We are Spartacus, yell various extras. Everybody is Spartacus? asks Laurence Olivier. Yup, everybody is Spartacus, I say, throw out the whole balcony. But instead Crassus crucifies everybody. I remember being bewildered by the unintended Christian imagery of all that when I was a child. Then again, Crassus will get his soon enough, in the waterless deserts of Mesopotamia, his legions annihilated, his mouth filled with molten gold. Later, says Plutarch, the head of Crassus was used as a prop in an off, off Broadway production of Euripedes. I switch back to Bridge on the River Kwai. Madness, says James Donald. Madness. Then some idiots start whistling.

Jean Simmons--Spartacus

Jean Simmons in Spartacus. Made you look.

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