Alex North had his roots in the American stage but achieved his greatest fame in the epic film genre: his scores for Spartacus (1960), Cleopatra (1963) and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) are beloved for their scope and grandeur. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was to be another North epic but ended up with Stanley Kubrick's selections of classical music. Later in 1968 North was able to use some of his 2001 ideas in M-G-M's The Shoes of the Fisherman, a colossal modern-day tale about the first Russian Pope. The Shoes of the Fisherman was based on a novel by Morris L. West and starred Anthony Quinn as Kiril Lakota, a political prisoner who rejoins the Vatican after his release. When the Pope dies, Kiril emerges as an unlikely successor, and must set the course for the Vatican's role in a current world crisis. The film also starred Laurence Olivier as the Soviet Premier, David Janssen as an American journalist, and Oskar Werner as a Jesuit philosopher and friend of Kiril's.