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I, Claudius (1937)

aka I, Claudius

Directed By: 
Written By:  Writer details not available
Details: · English

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I, Claudius was the proposed 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 was John Clements. Von Sternberg recalled Ralph Richardson having been cast, but Richardson did not agree.