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The Fall of the Roman Empire Details


Though Fall of the Roman Empire is now infamous as the epic which destroyed the cinematic "empire" of producer Samuel Bronston, the film is actually an above-average historical drama, attempting to make sense of the political intrigues which resulted in the dissolution of the Glory That Was Rome. The film begins with wise, diplomatic emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness) calling together the various representatives of the many nations within the Empire as a means of securing peace and prosperity for all involved. When Marcus intimates that he intends to turn over his crown to adopted son Livius (Stephen Boyd) rather than the logical successor Commodus (Christopher Plummer), he is poisoned by one of Commodus' cronies. Marcus' daughter Lucilla (Sophia Loren) tries to get Livius to claim the throne, but he wants no part of it; thus, the fate of the empire is in the incompetent hands of the preening Commodus. Despite efforts by cooler heads to save Rome from ruin, Commodus vainly declares himself a god and kills anyone who poses a threat to him. When he learns that Lucilla actually has a stronger claim to the throne than he does, Commodus condemns her to be burned at the stake. Only then does Livius intervene, slaying Commodus and promising to try to pick up the pieces of the disintegrating empire. Attempting to find a common ground between history buffs and action fans, Fall of the Roman Empire has come to be regarded as a classic. Alas, audiences in 1964 had grown weary of epics (especially after the highly touted but disappointing Sophia Loren), and failed to turn out in sufficient enough numbers to justify Sophia Loren's exorbitant cost. Virtually wiped out, Samuel Bronston would not be able to return to filmmaking until 1971, and then only on a much smaller and more pinchpenny scale. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:April 26, 1964


Awarded by
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Dimitri Tiomkin Best Original Score 1964 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dimitri Tiomkin Best Original Score 1964 Nominee


Alec Guinness
as Marcus Aurelius
Sophia Loren
as Lucilla
Stephen Boyd
as Livius
James Mason
as Timonides
Christopher Plummer
as Commodius
Omar Sharif
as Sohamus
Anthony Quayle
as Verulus
John Ireland
as Ballomar
Mel Ferrer
as Cleander
Eric Porter
as Julianus
Douglas Wilmer
as Niger
Peter Damon
as Claudius
Andrew Keir
as Polybius
George Murcell
as Victorinus
Lena von Martens
as Helva
Gabriella Licudi
as Tauna
Norman Wooland
as Virgilanus
Michael Gwynn
as Cornelius
Guy Rolfe
as Marius
Finlay Currie
as Senator
Virgilio Teixeira


Anthony Mann
Philip Yordan
Ben Barzman
Basilio Franchina
Robert Krasker
Dimitri Tiomkin
Composer (Music Score)
Veniero Colasanti
Production Designer
Veniero Colasanti
Set Designer
Veniero Colasanti
Costume Designer
Gloria Mussetta
Costume Designer
Will Durant
Mario Van Riel