Demetrius and the Gladiators

Add Demetrius and the Gladiators to that shortlist of Hollywood sequels that are actually better than their predecessor. This is a continuation of the story of The Robe–that most turgid of Biblical epics, known to film students the world over (and for this reason only) as the first Cinemascope release. The title of the earlier film refers to a red garment worn by Jesus as he was taken to his crucifixion. The discarded robe catalyzes the conversion to Christianity of Roman soldier Marcellus Gallio (played in the earlier film by Richard Burton), who was last seen being frog-marched to martyrdom on the orders of nutty Roman emperor Caligula (Jay Robinson). The sequel picks up the story of Marcellus’s former slave, Demetrius, again played by Victor Mature, as he becomes the robe’s caretaker.

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