Quo Vadis, 1951

LeRoy’s film is one of the giant-scale epic productions that enjoyed extreme popularity in the US in the 1950’s and 60’s. Grand spectacles around historical and biblical themes inspired by Antiquity were Hollywood’s response to the competition put up by the rapidly developing television. The MGM-produced Quo Vadis with its budget of over $12 million, 30 thousand extras, opulent production design, flamboyant costumes and star-studded cast (including Peter Ustinov, Deborah Kerr and Robert Taylor in the lead roles of Nero, Lygia and Vinicius, respectively) is a model example of that strategy. LeRoy’s box-office success proved so stunning that critics chose to describe the film as a blockbuster, the term originally coined to denote a large bomb used in carpet bombing of German cities in the Second World War.