Surprisingly, "Spartacus" is most recently remembered for the restored homoerotic undercurrent between Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier. Ultimately though, the infamous 'snails and oysters' scene just adds yet another layer to a movie already rich in them.
The story follows Spartacus (played with career-defining heroism by Douglas), a slave bought by Peter Ustinov to join his gladiator school. Once there, he becomes the best darn fighter in the biz (sound familiar?), but decides to do something about the plight of slaves and initiates a revolt against the Roman government.
That government is represented by two very different ideologies: Charles Laughton's more egalitarian Gracchus and the despotic Crassus (Olivier), whose own manservant Antoninus (Curtis) leaves him to join the uprising.
Best not to spoil the ending in case some still haven't been lucky enough to see it, but suffice to say, of all the historical epics, this pretty much takes the biscuit, with an unbelievable cast, incredible cinematography and plenty of quotable scenes - who hasn't heard about the 'I'm Spartacus!' blood-stirrer? - all of which earned it four Oscars.
Connoiseurs like to think that it is also something of an allegory about the civil rights movement, especially considering the time it was made, as well as the appearance of Woody Strode's self-sacrificing black gladiator. Meanwhile, those new to the genre will also see blatant comparisons with recent togathon "Gladiator".
Grand in scale, rich in character - it's almost as impressive on the DVD.