I, Claudius (film)

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I, Claudius
Directed by Josef von Sternberg
Produced by Alexander Korda
Written by Robert Graves
(adapting own novel)
Starring Charles Laughton
Flora Robson
Emlyn Williams
Merle Oberon
Release dates 1937 (intended)
Country UK
Language English

I, Claudius is the unfinished 1937 film of the book I, Claudius. It was to have been produced by Alexander Korda, directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Charles Laughton (as Claudius), Emlyn Williams (as Caligula), Flora Robson (as Livia), and Merle Oberon (as Messalina), but it was dogged by ill circumstances, culminating in a car accident involving Oberon, which caused filming to be abandoned. A further attempt to rescue the footage by incorporating it into The Denham Studio Mystery, a proposed sequel to The Arsenal Stadium Mystery also fell through.

Laughton based his interpretation of Claudius on King Edward VIII and his abdication speech. Other speaking parts included Claudius's servant Narcissus, Claudius's doctor, Senators Sentius and Asiaticus, and soldiers Cassius and Lupus.

The BBC used the existing footage in a 70-minute documentary The Epic That Never Was (1965), hosted by Dirk Bogarde and featuring the opening of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The documentary is included in the DVD box set of the BBC series I, Claudius, and includes about 25 minutes of original footage from the cancelled film.

Also in the cast were Allan Aynesworth (as Senator Asiaticus) and John Clements (as Valente). Von Sternberg recalled Ralph Richardson having been cast, but Richardson did not agree.


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