I, Claudius (film)

Charles Laughton in I, Claudius (1937)

Unfinished 1937 film adaptation of the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God (1935) by Robert Graves.

- I, Claudius (film)

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Merle Oberon

Indian-born British actress who began her film career in British films as Anne Boleyn in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933).

Oberon in 1943
Merle Oberon in 1936
Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights (1939)

She was selected to star in Korda's 1937 film, I, Claudius, as Messalina, but her injuries in a car accident resulted in the film being abandoned.

Flora Robson

English actress and star of the theatrical stage and cinema, particularly renowned for her performances in plays demanding dramatic and emotional intensity.

Robson in a 1940s studio publicity shot
Memorial tablet to Flora Robson in the porch of her final parish church, St Nicholas, Brighton

Her other film roles included the Empress Dowager Cixi in 55 Days at Peking (1963), Miss Milchrest in Murder at the Gallop (1963), the Queen of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972), and Livia in the aborted I, Claudius in 1937.

Charles Laughton

English-American actor.

Promotional portrait of Charles Laughton for The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
From the trailer for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
With Tennessee Ernie Ford in a guest appearance on The Ford Show (1961)
English Heritage blue plaque erected in 1992 at 15 Percy Street, London commemorating Charles Laughton.

In 1937, also for Korda, he starred in an ill-fated film version of the classic novel, I, Claudius, by Robert Graves, which was abandoned during filming owing to the injuries suffered by co-star Merle Oberon in a car crash.

I, Claudius

Historical novel by English writer Robert Graves, published in 1934.

First edition cover

In 1937, abortive attempts were made to adapt the first book into a film by the film director Josef von Sternberg.

Robert Newton

English actor.

Newton in The High and the Mighty (1954)
Newton and Linda Darnell in Blackbeard the Pirate (1952)

He also had a part as Cassius in the abandoned version of I, Claudius and in 21 Days (shot in 1937, released 1940).

Alexander Korda

Hungarian-British film director, producer and screenwriter, who founded his own film production studios and film distribution company.

Korda in 1936
Korda's first wife was the actress María Corda, who starred in many of his silent films in Europe and America.

He also attempted a version of I, Claudius with Laughton and Merle Oberon, but it was abandoned with only a few scenes shot.

Emlyn Williams

Welsh writer, dramatist and actor.

Williams in 1974, portrait by Allan Warren

I, Claudius (1937) as Caligula (the film was never completed, but footage is preserved)


The third wife of Roman emperor Claudius.

Statue of Messalina holding her son Britannicus, at the Louvre
Messalina in a coin minted in Crete, c. AD 42
A bust believed to be of Messalina, in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
Messalina guides the dragon chariot in the triumph of Claudius
Messalina working in a brothel: etching by Agostino Carracci, late 16th century
Peder Severin Krøyer, Messalina, 1881, Gothenburg Museum of Art
Messalina, Eugène Cyrille Brunet (1884), Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes
Hans Makart's painting of Charlotte Wolter in Adolf Wilbrandt's tragedy, Arria und Messalina

Merle Oberon in the 1937 uncompleted film of I, Claudius.


The third Roman emperor, ruling from 37 to 41.

Germanicus, the father of Caligula
Portrait of Agrippina the Elder, Caligula's mother
Caligula Depositing the Ashes of his Mother and Brother in the Tomb of his Ancestors, by Eustache Le Sueur, 1647
A denarius of Gaius Caligula. Caption: C. CAESAR AVG. GERM. P. M. TR. POT.
The Vatican Obelisk was first brought from Egypt to Rome by Caligula. It was the centerpiece of a large racetrack he built.
The hull of one of two ships recovered from Lake Nemi during the 1930s. This massive vessel served as an elaborate floating palace for the Emperor.
Map of the Roman Empire and neighboring states during the reign of Gaius Caligula (37–41 AD).
Ruins of the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Forum Romanum. Ancient resources as well as recent archaeological evidence suggest that, at one point, Caligula had the palace extended to annex this structure.
Caligula and Roma Cameo depicting Caligula and Roma, a personification of Rome
Roman sestertius depicting Caligula, c. AD 38. The reverse shows Caligula's three sisters, Agrippina, Drusilla and Julia Livilla, with whom Caligula was rumoured to have carried on incestuous relationships. Caption: C. CAESAR AVG. GERMANICVS PON. M. TR. POT. / AGRIPPINA DRVSILLA IVLIA S. C.
Bust of Caligula from Palazzo Massimo in Rome
Fanciful Renaissance depiction of Caligula
Marble bust of Caligula with traces of original paint beside a plaster replica trying to recreate the polychrome traditions of ancient sculpture.
Quadrans celebrating the abolition of a tax in AD 38 by Caligula.<ref>{{cite journal|last1=Woods|first1=David|title=Caligula's Quadrans|journal=The Numismatic Chronicle|issn=0078-2696|year=2010|volume=170|pages=99–103|jstor=42678887}}</ref> The obverse of the coin contains a picture of a Pileus which symbolizes the liberation of the people from the tax burden. Caption: C. CAESAR DIVI AVG. PRON[EPOS] (great-grandson of) AVG. / PON. M., TR. P. III, P. P., COS. DES. RCC. (probably Res Civium Conservatae, i.e. the interests of citizens have been preserved)
Roman gold coins excavated in Pudukottai, India, examples of Indo-Roman trade during the period. One coin of Caligula (AD 37–41), and two coins of Nero (AD 54–68). British Museum. Caption: C. CAESAR AVG. PON. M., TR. POT. III, COS. III. - NERO CAESAR. AVG. IMP. - NERO CAESAR AVG. IMP.
Bust of Caligula from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Welsh actor Emlyn Williams was cast as Caligula in the never-completed 1937 film I, Claudius.

John Clements (actor)

British actor and producer who worked in theatre, television and film.

John Clements in 1954
John Clements and Ralph Richardson in The Four Feathers (1939)

I, Claudius (1937) as Valente