The epic genre of “Gladiator” movies isn’t as popular as it once was, yet it was popular in the past. Here are the greatest gladiator films ever filmed….
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Sword and sandal flicks, gladiator movies, whatever you want to call them, have been a popular genre for decades, but they were extremely popular throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In films like Spartacus, The Robe, and Gladiator, actors like Kirk Douglas, Victor Mature, and Russell Crowe have all had success, respectively. The genre enjoyed the same level of acclaim as the Western at the time it was first released.
Every decade or so, a new filmmaker enters the fray to give modern audiences a taste of the type of battle-tinged epics that formerly thrilled audiences young and old.
Kristen Palamara updated this page on May 28th, 2021. From Cabiria (1914) through Jason and the Argonauts (1963) to The Eagle (2011), the Gladiator genre has produced some of the most popular titles in genre cinema history. There are well-known performers like Gladiator’s Russell Crowe and lesser-known stars like Michael Fassbender in 2010’s Centurion. However, all of the films have entertaining stories and constant action.
1. Jason And The Argonauts (1963)
Crackle offers a free online stream of the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.
Pelias (Douglas Wilmer), the ruthless monarch of Thessaly, manipulates Jason (Todd Armstrong) and sends him on a mission to find the Golden Fleece, which he does. To make matters worse, Pelias believes that Jason would die on his quest, but the gods and his fellow soldiers prove him wrong.
2. The Eagle (2011)
As one of the year’s biggest releases, The Eagle was an expensive and fairly avant-garde piece of work. While the picture was largely ignored by the public, it earned a few positive reviews. As soldiers/gladiators, Jamie Bell and Channing Tatum fought for a lost Roman legion’s gold crest.
Visually appealing, with well-executed battle scenes, this is a top gladiator film of the last few decades.
3. Centurion (2010)
In 2010, Neil Marshall released Centurion, a genre film that can be seen on Sling as part of the service’s on-demand lineup. Michael Fassbender as a Roman legion leader who gets lost in enemy territory and must fight his way back to his troops.
To honor Walter Hill’s 1979 classic The Warriors as well as the computer game God of War, this film is a bold, brutal and exhilarating action film that does not attempt to be more than it really is.
4. Cabiria (1914)
It’s free to watch Cabiria, an intriguing film from 1914, right now on VUDU. A little girl sold into slavery is saved by a warrior in this epic tale. As a result of this, the conflict between Carthage and Rome will begin.
Awe-inspiring sets by Director Pastrone remain awe-inspiring today. An Italian cinematic classic from the Silent Age, this epic has it all: battles, love stories, and historical drama.
5. Demetrius And The Gladiators (1954)
This sequel to 1953’s The Robe was starred by the renowned Victor Mature, who won an Oscar for his performance. It is in Ancient Rome when Mature is born a slave and becomes a gladiator, under the regime of Caligula.
In 1954, the picture was a big smash, and director Daves incorporated action sequences with well-developed characters and performances from his ensemble, including Susan Hayward, Michael Rennie, Ernest Borgnine, and a teenage Anne Bancroft.
6. Barabbas (1961)
Barabbas, starring Anthony Quinn, is a 1961 film that blends the gladiator film genre with the Biblical one, and is available to stream for free on Tubi. The killing of Jesus Christ haunts Barabbas, and his life of torment fuels his rage and brutality.
This fantastic picture has it all: action, drama, and visual splendor. From a time when Biblical epics and gladiator pictures ruled the roost, this is a wonderful blend of genres.
7. The Fall Of The Roman Empire (1964)
The Fall of the Roman Empire, directed by Anthony Mann and starring a cast as large as the production’s enormous sets, was the worst commercial failure of 1964. This epic drama of the fall of a once-dominant empire stars Christopher Plummer, Sophia Loren, Alec Guinness, and many more.
The movie is fantastic, despite the fact that it will be remembered primarily for its flaws. Well-acted, engaging, and a visual treat. After Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren was the second actress to receive a one million dollar salary. While working on a film set, Alec Guinness became known for his calm demeanor, and actor Stephen Boyd attributed the picture’s failure to his own waning career.
8. Gladiator (2000)
With 12 Oscar nominations and five wins, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator brought the gladiator picture back to the attention of a global audience and critical acclaim.
An ancient Roman soldier who lost his wife and son in battle is depicted in the film as he seeks revenge. A sleek appearance and exhilarating action sequences made the film a hit at the box office and garnered critical acclaim from Scott. Quotable lines from the film made it a modern classic and a part of pop culture.
9. Ben-Hur (1959)
William Wyler’s epic picture Ben-Hurties shared the record for the most Oscars won by an one film with Titanic and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. the erstwhile friend (and now Roman leader) who deceived him. Charlton Heston leads in Wyler’s epic as the prince sold into slavery who returns to avenge his former buddy’s betrayal.
Despite the film’s epic dimensions, William Wyler was able to keep the film’s story and characters intact, making it a great example of classic filmmaking. The chariot race is the most memorable aspect of Wyler’s picture, which is full of epic fights.
10. Spartacus (1960)
Kirk Douglas plays Spartacus, a slave who leads a rebellion against the Roman Empire in the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus. Epic in every way, this picture is often regarded as the best of its kind.
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s script wonderfully captures the men and women’s motivations and fighting sequences are expertly staged, the most renowned of which is Douglas and Woody Strode’s arena duel.