Christopher Plummer, from In spite of Myself:

—“THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE was an epic film of massive proportions produced by Samuel Bronston (entrepreneur extraordinaire), and true to the grandeur of its title. Bronston, who had the ear of Generalisimo Franco, had cleverly found some way to make pesos and the dollar work together and in the process had heightened considerably the value of Spanish currency. With Franco’s cooperation, he played a major role in developing Spain into a European moviemaking center. Now with international backing, a considerable portion of which had come from the Du Pont family in Delaware, he was producing films on a grand scale with enormous studios at his disposal, giving employment to major artists as well as thousands of grateful unemployed Spanish.”

—“After a grueling few weeks with the nags, we moved with the unit to Segovia to commence shooting. The battle between the Romans and the Huns was filmed in dead winter near the summit of the Navacerradas Mountains. The cold was congealing —there was nothing but ice and snow and the roads down the mountain where Stephen (Boyd) and I were obliged to drive our chariots at full gallop were curving and treacherous. Although we wore heavy fur cloaks, which had a habit of throwing us off-balance, our knees were bare and the wind cruelly cut into them and turned them blue. I also had to hold on to the reins of my four powerful quadrupeds with bare hands, as I couldn’t feel them properly when wearing gauntlets. Also the constant likelihood of being thrown out gave me no cheer as I could have been trampled by all the horses and chariots barreling down behind me. ‘Boy, are we earning our money?!’”

—“I remember one day we were shooting the return of Livius to the Eternal City. They had cordoned off a huge portion of the actual Appia Antica in the hills above Rome. The Imperial Guard with their menacing shields and lances lined up flanking each side of the road some two hundred strong, and I, as Commodus, in my chariot, waiting for Livius (Boyd) at the far end. The action called for Boyd to enter on horseback as far away as the eye could see, ride all the way down through the ranks and, when he came close to my chariot, halt, dismount, walk the next few yards and tell me in the most stilted and unmemorable of lines—‘Lucilla has returned to Rome.’ Setting up this ‘money shot’ took forever—one wondered if it was at all worth it. Everyone was getting tired and hungry, Boyd especially. It was now the end of the day, the light was fading fast, there was only time for one take. Action! Boyd rides down the long path, dismounts, approaches my chariot, looks up at me and says with colloquial clarity, ‘Sophia’s back in town.’”

—“The film opened. Guinness and Mason were praised, of course, as was British director of photography Robert Krasker for his superb camera work, and everyone acknowledged that Sophia as my sister Lucilla looked ravishing. She has little else to do but peer seductively out of various casement windows. And I came out of it fairly unscathed, enough to be able to say with some conviction that my career on celluloid had begun in earnest. As expected, the film belonged to Colasanti and Moore and rightly too, but at the box office it was a flop. My God! All that expense! Was the world tiring of epics? Or was it that quality of the writing that let the side down? I never understood, with all that money, why it wasn’t spent on top-notch writers. There was no Dalton Trumbo as in Spartacus, or Robert Bolt as in Lawrence of Arabia. With the possible exception of Ben Barzman, there were just a few too many hacks with little feeling for the period or language. The script was wooden and mundane.”