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The Epic That Never Was (1965)

The story of the aborted 1937 filming of "I, Claudius", starring Charles Laughton, with all of its surviving footage.


Bill Duncalf, Robert Graves (novel)


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The cast and crew of I, Claudius (1976) discuss the making of the series.

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Complete credited cast:
Dirk Bogarde ... Himself - Host / Narrator
Robert Graves Robert Graves ... Himself - author of 'I, Claudius'
Josef von Sternberg ... Himself - Director
Merle Oberon ... Herself / Messalina
Flora Robson ... Herself / Livia
Emlyn Williams ... Himself / Caligula
John Abbott John Abbott ... Himself - Ms. Robson's Host
Eileen Bowen-Jones Eileen Bowen-Jones ... Herself - Script Girl (as Eileen Corbett)
John Armstrong John Armstrong ... Himself - Costume Designer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Laughton ... Claudius (archive footage)
Robert Newton ... Captain of Caligula's guard (archive footage)


The story of the aborted 1937 filming of "I, Claudius", starring Charles Laughton, with all of its surviving footage.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis









Release Date:

24 December 1965 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Filmen som aldrig blev av See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of the first documentaries to make use of the opening theme from Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra", later made more famous in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey". See more »


Merle Oberon: I had a motor car accident, and so they cancelled the picture, and Lloyds had to pay out a great deal of money...
See more »


Featured in Hollywood Out-takes and Rare Footage (1983) See more »


Also sprach Zarathustra
(opening fanfare)
Music by Richard Strauss
Heard at the beginning and the end of the program
See more »

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User Reviews

Great performance and slice of film history
11 April 2018 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

I, Claudius, the story of the stuttering, limping cousin and successor to the cruel Emperor Caligula, was never released. Filming was halted when Merle Oberon was in a terrible car accident, and for thirty years, the footage was locked away. Finally, as there was such a great mystery as to why the film was never finished, a documentary was released in 1965: I, Claudius: The Epic That Never Was.

Dirk Bogarde hosted the documentary, and Emlyn Williams, Merle Oberson, Flora Robson, director Josef von Sternberg, and writer Robert Graves all gave their own interpretations of why the filming was stopped and never resumed. Alas, Charles Laughton and Robert Newton had since passed away. It's a very interesting hour, and all the original footage is included for the audience's viewing pleasure. Outtakes and misspoken lines are shown, as well as entire completed scenes, adding up to almost thirty minutes of footage from I, Claudius.

Charles Laughton plays the title character, and he delivers what would have been one of the most memorable screen monologues, had it been released into theaters. He's so very pitiful as Claudius, and it's truly heartbreaking to see the other characters make fun of his flaws. I happen to like Charles Laughton and think he's very talented, so it was easy for me to be engrossed by his performance. Nothing's sadder than his pout; and when he's ridiculed, he never gets angry or has attitude, making him all the much more endearing.

If you like Charles Laughton, definitely give this documentary a watch. You'll get to see a good semi-performance, and you'll be educated in film history.

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