This is one of the greatest epic movies ever made. While in my personal preferences the #1 spot is occupied by Spartacus, Quo Vadis reaches a honorable 2nd place. Deborah Kerr was as beautiful as ever, and while I do think that Robert Taylor was miscast and didn't give his best, the movie is saved and the show is stolen by the amazing performance Peter Ustinov - the best Nero ever and Leo Glenn that does an amazing job as Petronius.

But i'm not here to do movie reviews. i'm here to share images and info from my personal collection of vintage photos and magazines. So let's take a look at the behind the scenes of  this epic movie.


Nero's eye view from palace shows celebration going on in huge outdoor set constructed at Cinecitta Studios outside Rome. In circular foreground area a troupe of vestal virgins are performing the rites while a triumphal procession sweeps across scene to honor film's hero, whos admirers include several thousand friends, romans and countrymen. At upper right are buildings connected with film studio and at left is MGM's reconstruction of ancient Circus Maximus.

MGM boss, Louis B. Mayer has always had a nostalgic affection for an epic Imperial Rome he made a generation ago, Ben Hur, which helped popularize the word colossal. Now MGM has come up with a worthy successor: Quo Vadis, whose story of the love between a highborn Christian damsel and a handsome roman official in the wicked old days of Nero is almost ready to be seen after 12 years of research and months of filming. Taken mostly in Rome, Quo Vadis is the most expensive (9 million $), most densely populated (30.000 extras), most cosmopolitan (two Polish princes, five Hungarian lions, three Ethiopian acrobats), in short, the most genuinely colossal movie you are likely to see for the rest of your lives.

Hero Robert Taylor rides a triumphal chariot. Ruins along a two-mile stretch of Appian Way were refurbished by MGM to look like new for the scene.


photos & documentation: LIFE Magazine (US) | Zetu Harrys Collection