The filming of “Quo Vadis?” began at Rome’s Cinecittà on May 22nd, 1950 at 9am. In that moment, the Italian studios on Via Tuscolana put an end to a period of crisis and began a ten-year revival, becoming known to American actors and directors as “Hollywood on the Tiber”.
“Quo Vadis?” was epic even in its making, as a newspaper article of the time explained: “To provide enough electricity [for the movie], Cinecittà has acquired the 25,000-kilowatt thermal power station that had belonged to the ‘Vittorio Veneto’ battleship (‘So the war was not for nothing, after all’, one Roman engineer commented). Everything else has been brought in from the United States: two hundred tons of electrical equipment, with four mobile generators…” (translated from “Tempo”, June 10th 1950).
The movie is known for its many record-breaking figures: 2,000 cubic meters of gypsum and cement, 200 pounds of nails from the United States, 32,000 costumes, 80 actors playing important roles, a few hundreds for more generic parts, and some 6,000 extras, mostly employed to fill the Circus Maximus – re-built in wood especially for the film – for entire days, from early in the morning to sunset, with obvious logistical difficulties.
Despite receiving nine Academy Awards nominations, no Oscar was won by the historical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring, among others, Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Leo Genn, Peter Ustinov and – the only Italian starring in a prominent role – Marina Berti. Peter Ustinov “only” won a Golden Globe for his unforgettable portrayal of Nero.
Here are some wonderful stills shot while filming at “Hollywood on the Tiber”.