Peter Ustinov once testified that the making of Spartacus took so long that although his daughter Andrea had only just been born at the outset of filming, by the time the film was completed she was responding to queries at school as to what her father’s job was with the answer, ‘Spartacus’. When one considers that the eventual director was none other than goggle-eyed Stan Kubrick, never to garner for himself the nickname ‘One Take Stan’, this seems less than surprising. The first director was Anthony Mann, soon to take his revenge for being bumped from this epic by being responsible for the age-spanning The Fall Of The Roman Empire. To be fair to Kubrick, he did have to contend with some of the most monstrous egos ever to have occupied the planet, some of them, like Charles Laughton’s, visible from space. Laurence Olivier did his bit on the self-obsession front too, and doubtless Tony Curtis would have been attempting to claim his place amongst the big apes as well. The biggest ape of them all was principal star Kirk Douglas, magnificent as the title character, though Laughton – managing to be peutlant, oily and sympathetic with the same character and often all at the same time – is also superb. One of the more entertaining of the woolly blanket genre, this is notable for the excellent cast, workable story and last gasp of Kubrick as a watchable director.