The Last Days of Pompeii | 1983
This seven-hour British-Italian adaptation of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1834 epic, set against the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. and previously filmed in 1935, and in 1960 was a vehicle for muscleman Steve Reeves, was trashed by the critics as the campiest of sword and sandal sagas to emerge in years. This despite its reported $19-million price tag, the nobility of its cast that includes Laurence Olivier, Siobhan McKenna and Anthony Quayle, and its rather unspectacular special effects. The central figures are Nicholas Clay as Glaucus, the noble Athenian; Olivia Hussey as the high-born Ione, his love, who is seduced by the Egyptian, Arbaces (Franco Nero), a religious fanatic; Duncan Regehr as Lydon, the champion gladiator; and Linda Purl as the blind slave Nydia, who is torn between Glaucus and Lydon.
Carmen Culver, who wrote the teleplay to "The Thorn Birds", did this adaptation of Lytton's novel, and Jack Cardiff, who photographed such screen classics as "The Red Shoes" and "War and Peace," as well as TV's "Ivanhoe," "Masada" and "The Far Pavillions," was the cinematographer. This miniseries also had the dubious distinction of being scheduled, in a rare network programming ploy, directly opposite another one, "V -- The Final Battle".