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After making six Tarzan movies in the 1950s, Gordon Scott re-located to Europe where he continued his career in a series of sword-and-sandal adventures -- most notably "Duel of the Titans" in which he went pec-to-pec with Steve Reeves. While a somewhat lesser effort, "Gladiator of Rome" is still a satisfying piece of entertainment, though it suffers from the miscalculation of having two heroines. There's the blonde princess-turned-slavegirl whom Scott is pledged to defend and then there's the brunette barmaid whom he's said to fall in love with. (The romantic angle here is weak and unconvincing.) Combining these two women into one character might have made for a stronger plot.
However, "Gladiator of Rome" does deliver on what its audience wants to see. Gordon Scott, for example, never wears a shirt and thus is bare-chested from first scene to last. At about age 34, Scott was just a mere shade past his physical prime here, and he looks convincingly heroic in all the various actions he's asked to perform. As you'd expect, he's also put into the required bondage-and-torture positions. In the first, he's chained flat against a wall and threatened with hot irons designed to put out his eyes. In the second, he's chained to an X-shaped cross with the makings of a bonfire piled up below him. Curiously, while his legs are spread apart on the cross, thus making him especially vulnerable to that fire, his arms are not chained to the cross but are bound behind his back.
These bondage scenes are far more striking and memorable than the movie's few scenes of gladiator combat. In fact, the only arena scenes we're shown are when Scott is in training to become a gladiator and this training occurs at a small, provincial arena far from the magnificence of Rome. Thus, "Gladiator of Rome" may be an impressive title on the marquee but it's not really an accurate summation of the movie's contents.
A word of praise for Roberto Risso, the young Roman who's in love with the princess-turned-slavegirl. Despite formidable competition from Gordon Scott, he dares to do a bare-chest scene of his own. This courage on his part makes up for the fact that his physique is not at all impressive.
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