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Demetrius and the Gladiators (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
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Rome, soon after the death of Christ. The depraved and mad Caligula is on the throne, obsessed with two things: the Robe, the garment that fell from Jesus' shoulders on the cross, and brutal gladiatorial displays. Victor Mature is the devout Christian entrusted with the Robe by Peter (Michael Rennie). But he turns his back on God, enters the arena, and becomes the most famous gladiator in Rome. Sharing the bed of the powerful and diabolical Messalina (Susan Hayward), he may even betray the Robe - and any hope he has for redemption!
Amid a cast of all-stars in 1953's The Robe, Victor Mature made the strongest impression as the Greek slave, Demetrius. It was only natural, then, that Mature should star in this 1954 sequel, in which the newly liberated Demetrius forges an alliance with his Christian brethren to hide the sacred robe of Christ, coveted for its "magic" by the vile emperor Caligula (Jay Robinson, also reprising his role in The Robe). Captured and manipulated into believing his beloved Lucia (Debra Paget) has been killed, Demetrius rejects his pacifist faith, plots vengeance while becoming a rising star in the bloody arena, and falls prey to the scheming senator's wife Messalina (Susan Hayward), who craves his... affection. It all leads to a crisis of faith that will determine Demetrius's fate as a noble Christian or downfallen hedonist.
Inheriting The Robe's CinemaScope production values, Demetrius and the Gladiators has everything you'd want in a Biblical epic, riding the wave that would crest two years later with Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments. It's campy, of course--Robinson is outrageously over-the-top; Mature is too contemporary (preceding the absurdity of Richard Gere's King David by 30 years); and Hayward seems closer to Rodeo Drive than ancient Rome. Still, there are abundant pleasures here, from the lavish arena battles (a bit cheesy, but still impressive) to a straightforward morality tale that doesn't compromise its themes of religious loyalty. You don't watch movies like this for historical accuracy, but for the combination of thrills, passion, and glory that were Hollywood trademarks of 1950s epics, long before the more secular ambition of Gladiator. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
This DVD looks great, but the first time I viewed it, years ago, I couldn't watch it all the way through because I wanted to HEAR it. I wrote on these pages that to hear this film presentation I had to crank the volume way, way up....to the point where I had to endure hiss along with dialogue and special effects.
The fact of the matter is, I was taking the word of the folks who sold me my receiver, DVD player and surround speakers that the optical hookups converted audio signals for both DTS and 5.1CH. And the 5.1, for years, was a very undesirable sound for me -- and I couldn't understand why folks liked it.
Now I know why. My receiver does not convert to 5.1 via the optical cables. (And that's why both the receiver and DVD have separate input panels for 5.1CH hookups).
Now that the hookups are completed, I have to say the sound on this DVD is A-W-E-S-O-M-E for a 1954 6-channel stereo film.
I apologize to Fox Video for criticizing the sound quality. I'd have loved for there to have been more bonus features on this, but the film is splendid on its own.
The packaging remains lacking, IMO. The film is vivid and colorful and the DVD cover is drab.
-The intelligent subtext. With all the fights and -admittedly cheesy- effects and spectacle, it is about a man's fundamental doubts. Demetrius's faith is shaken because he can't cope with the fact that an evil world, in which harm is done to the innocent, is the creation of an all-loving God that fails to show Himself when most needed.
-Extraordinary supporting cast. Jay Robinson is wonderful "over the top", as they say. Absolutely and unashamedly flamboyant. I imagine that he liked the part very much and had fun with it. It is unfortunately that his career wasn't successful enough afterwards. He is Caligula! Or rather, I wish Caligula were this way: at least he would have been funny, cunning and extravaganly alluring! Susan Hayward is not wrong as Mesalina. See the final farewell to Demetrius,in which see seems experiencing an imagined or remembered orgasm. Michael Rennie is an over-dignified "Peter", but the most noble character, as another reviewer has suggested is Glycon. Clearly a superior to all the others, particularly to Demetrius himself. At the end he is put on the same level as the Apostle himself. The fact that he was a black actor is very positive (the film was realeased in 1954).
-Great score: Franz Waxman at his most heroic and religious. Or sometime, ominous, as the sinister fanfare that accompanies the gladiators to the arena, in order to perform "the marriage of life and dead", is.
-The film has given me food for thought.Read more ›
Join Demetrius in his journey as he battles gladiators, tigers, Caligula, and most dangerous his feelings for the wiley and seductive Susan Haywood. What makes this movie so entertaining is the moral dilemma he faces, and his fall and redemption. This is a real man facing real temptations in an immoral world, much like we are in today.
Jay Robinson makes a welcome return as the emperor Caligula, chewing up the scenary with his wonderful performance.
This is like gladiator with heart.
Most recent customer reviews
Traditional Hollywood sand and sandal film. A must for the fans...Published 23 months ago by Guy L. Storms
Same comments as given on the Robe. Haven't seen it yet but I know its going to be very goodPublished on Jan. 21 2014 by Allyson D Clarke
Victor Mature is the perfect person to play this role not only because of his physical appearance but also his great talent the character actually seems real. He is a perfect fit.Published on Nov. 24 2013 by Sandy Noel
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