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Demetrius and the Gladiators

4.3 out of 5 stars 273 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Victor Mature, Susan Hayward, Michael Rennie, Debra Paget, Anne Bancroft
  • Directors: Delmer Daves
  • Writers: Lloyd C. Douglas, Philip Dunne
  • Producers: Frank Ross
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Mono), French (Mono), Spanish (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: March 5, 2013
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (273 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056AXZ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,494 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Demetrius and the Gladiators" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Videotape
"Demetrius and the Gladiators", is often relegated to the shadows of its illustrious and far better known parent "The Robe",which was the first lavish effort in Cinemascope. This sequel takes up where the original story ends and uses some of the same cast and many of the original films sets in it's continuation of the saga dealing with the search for Christ's robe. In many ways however is a much more enjoyable and lively effort and focusing on life at the Roman Court features some of the most stunning gladiator scenes ever included in a film. Based on characters drawn from the biblical novel "The Robe", by Llyod C. Douglas this effort focuses on the freed Greek slave Demetrius (Victor Mature), and his ongoing battle between his Christian beliefs and the lure of a decadent Rome under the mad emperor Caligula (Jay Robinson). While the original movie was a very respectful effort centred around Christ's crucifixion "Demetrius and the Gladiators", focuses more on the viciousness of Imperial Rome and the bloody sport of Gladiator combat where innocent men fought to the death for the Roman mob's amusement. For its amazingly accurate depiction of the "sport", of gladiator combat it far surpasses more recent efforts in showing the training, equipment, and life of Gladiators in Imperial Rome. Blessed with some memorable performances, in particular Jay Robinson's amazingly wild performance as the deranged Caligula this film captures beautifully all that was unique about this period in Rome's history while still including the conventional love story element.

After the executions of the earlier heroes Marcellus and Diana at the hands of Caligula Demetrius is entrusted with Christ's sacred robe which the Romans believe works miracles.
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Format: DVD
Demetrius and the Gladiators is an enjoyable film (see other reviewers for details) but the film quality on the DVD sucks! No effort was made to restore the film and it shows in it's very fuzzy quality. What a shame, and a ripoff to the consumer. No extras either.
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Format: Blu-ray
The sequel "Demetrius and the Gladiators" was put into production before the first-ever Cinemascope spectacular, "The Robe," was even released. At 100 minutes, the film is about a half-hour shorter than its statelier and more "reverent" predecessor, finding Victor Mature's Demetrius sparring with the crazed Emperor Caligula (an over the top, and highly amusing, Jay Robinson) who's still trying to track down the elusive robe, and the temptations of the sensuous, Isis-worshipping Messalina (top-billed Susan Hayward), wife of Caligula's decidedly less flamboyant uncle Cladius (Barry Jones). Soon Demetrius finds himself falling back on his pre-Christian lifestyle, telling Messalina that they don't need any God and going against his non-violent stance by battling in the gladiator's arena after a young Christian woman (Debra Paget) is attacked in front of him.

With Cinemascope splendor, action, sex, a wide range of performances (including early turns from Ernest Borgnine, future "Blacula" William Marshall and Anne Bancroft), and a regal Franz Waxman score (incorporating some of Alfred Newman's themes from "The Robe"), "Demetrius and the Gladiators" reworks the more satisfying elements of its predecessor while being, if anything, livelier. Michael Rennie was one of several "Robe" veterans - including writer Philip Dunne - who returned to reprise their roles in "Demetrius," yet this picture also owes a debt to director Delmer Davies, whose pacing results in an exciting widescreen epic from Fox's Golden Age that's ultimately more fun than the film that preceded it.

Twilight Time's Blu-Ray houses a 1080p AVC encoded transfer from the best-available elements that exist in the Fox vaults.
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1 Comment 20 of 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I love this corny old movie(and it rates 4 stars). I love it for being a sequel to "The Robe", I love it for Victor Mature's hammy Demetrius (and he was so restrained in the same role in "The Robe"), I love it for Susan Hayward's traditional portrayal of an amoral temptress (something she did wonderfully well), I love it for Jay Robinson's way over-the-top(-and-over-the-rainbow) Caligula, I love it for its use of CinemaScope and I love it for Franz Waxman's music score.

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 4-track 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.
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Demetrius and the Gladiators
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