The story picks up at the point where "The Robe (1953)" ends, following the martyrdom of Diana and Marcellus. Christ's robe is conveyed to Peter for safe-keeping, but the emperor Caligula wants it back to benefit from its powers. Marcellus' former slave Demetrius seeks to prevent this, and catches the eye of Messalina, wife to Caligula's uncle Claudius. Messalina tempts Demetrius, he winds up fighting in the arena, and wavers in his faith.Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was the ninth film telecast on "NBC Saturday Night at the Movies", the first television program to exclusively broadcast post-1948 theatrical films on US network television. This one was first telecast 18 November 1961, and like the opener of the series, How to Marry a Millionaire, and several others which followed, had been filmed in CinemaScope, at its original 2.55:1 ratio, and so had to be "formatted to fit your screen" i.e. shown pan/scan in the conventional 4:3 TV ratio, losing nearly half of the image in the process, and literally destroying the composition of each scene. But viewers didn't seem to mind. The idea proved so successful that NBC soon followed it up with another series with the identical format, "Monday Night at the Movies", and it wasn't long before the format was taken up by both CBS and ABC. See more »
Caligula was emperor of Rome from 37 to 41 CE. The apostle Peter is known to have been incarcerated by Herod Agrippa, who reigned from 40 to 44 CE. When he came to Rome is unknown, but this must have been later, only after there were followers of the new religion there (after 50 CE). So, Caligula and Peter were never in Rome at the same time. See more »
You'll never get him back. What can you offer him ? The company of slaves and beggars ? The refuse of Rome ? Poverty and self-denial ? Prayers ? Tears ? Death ? You see, I've studied your teachings, and I, Fisherman, I can give him the world. If he has to choose between us, do you think he'd hesitate for one minute ? Of course not. And that's why you hate me. I can see it in your eyes.
What you see in my eyes is pity.
[she tosses her goblet of wine in his face]
Get out !
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This is a place where men are trained to kill each other like animals!
Demetrius and the Gladiators is a sequel to The Robe. It's directed by Delmer Daves and stars Victor Mature as Demetrius, a Christian slave made to fight in the Roman arena as a gladiator ( and ultimately entering into a bigger fight, that of faith), and Susan Hayward as Messalina. Filling out the support cast are Ernest Borgnine, William Marshall, Michael Rennie, and Jay Robinson as the maniacal emperor Caligula. The screenplay is from Philip Dunne (How Green Was My Valley/ The Agony and the Ecstasy} and cinematography comes courtesy of Milton R. Krasner (Academy Award winner Best Color Cinematography for Three Coins in the Fountain 1955).
Following straight on from The Robe, Demetrius and the Gladiators is a safe and enjoyable Biblical picture that doesn't outstay its welcome. Running at just over 100 minutes, the film is far from being epic in its telling. However, and without cramming in, it does contain all the necessary ingredients to make up a sweaty sword and sandals pie. Filmed in CinemaScope, persecuted hero, bonkers villain, sexy babe, huge sets, colourful costumes, and fights, lots of fights. Thankfully the serious dialogue is mostly kept brief, there a few things worse in this genre of film than bloated discourse on religious beliefs and political dalliances. Get in there, let us know what is going on, and move on to the next chapter of the story. This is something that Daves' film does real well, it has an eagerness to entertain with dots of gusto and sexual swagger. The acting is mixed, Mature is solid without ever really convincing as the heroic figure of Demetrius, Hayward and Robinson are camping it up and thus entertain royally, while Borgnine and Rennie earn there pay.
Very much like another Phillip Dunne screenplay genre piece, David And Bathsheba, this one is often overlooked or forgotten in discussion about the sword & sandals genre. That both film's are not in the same league as the likes of Ben-Hur and Spartacus is a given, but both have much to offer the discerning cinephile. Recommended Sunday afternoon fare with a flagon of claret and a roast ox dinner. 7/10
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