The Fox studio wasn't known for its big-budget spectacles, but when it needed to, it could really come through, as proven here. Director J. Gordon Edwards spent eight months in preparation and a couple of months in Italy filming the story of the last of the Caesars -- quite a long time in those days. Except for Violet Mersereau, who played the part of the Christian heroine Marcia, the whole cast was made up of Italian actors (appropriate, considering that the film was about ancient Rome). For the most part, Edwards made good use of the 11 reels it took to tell Nero's story, showing off the immense Circus Maximus, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and giving heated life to the burning of Rome (accomplished with a combination of miniatures and full-size sets). The only time he goes just a touch overboard is when the Roman people, fed up with their mad emperor (played by Jacques Gretillat), assemble into an angry mob; at this point he tries a little too hard to be D.W. Griffith. This was Fox's big mid-year release for 1922.
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