Gli invincibili dieci gladiatori (Spartacus and the Ten Gladiators) (1964)
Director: Nick Nastro.
Starring: Dan Vadis (Rocca), Helga Liné (Daliah), Alfredo Varelli, Ursula Davis, Giuliano Dell'Ovo, Gianni Rizzo (Senator Varro), Enzo Fiermonte, Frank Oliveras, Vassili Karis, Sal Borgese, Emilio Messina, Ugo Sasso, Jeff Cameron, Aldo Canti, Pietro Torrisi (Gladiator).
love story between Rocca and Daliah during the slave revolts led by Spartacus
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Twelve gladiators trained in the city of Thrace will battle against one another unto death. One of the men has to fight his own father. The father drops down deliberately and the son is given the command to kill the father. Then another gladiator, named Spartacus, attacks the son. The attacker then throws his sword at the grandstand and it lands in the wood. The other gladiators stop fighting and just stand there.
Terasus, the manager of the arena, says that these men will ruin him. Soldiers are sent over to bring the gladiators over to him. The manager tells his troops to flog these cowards. He singles out the trouble-maker Spartacus and the flogger starts lashing him. Rocca and some of his fellows come up to tell Terasus to stop lashing the man. So now Terasus says to lash all the men.
Now the manager of the slaves Timbro comes over to Terasus to stop him. He says he pays a lot of money to get these slaves for Senator Varro. Terasus objects that these particular men are rebels; he has to kill them. Besides, he has lost prestige and money. So the manager of the slaves gives Terasus a small bag of money to keep him happy.
Terasus tells Rocca and the others that they will be forever forbidden to fight as a gladiator. The ex-gladiators are placed in a wagon and send out on their own. After a while the path they are on just ends in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly the men hear a woman screaming. They run to the top of a hill to see what is going on. It looks like bandits are fighting the Romans guarding a patrician lady, named Lydia. The ex-gladiators jump into the fight and vanquish the attackers. The young lady says her father is the senator Julius Varro. She invites them to her house.
Senator Varro thanks the men and will pay them so they can afford things beyond their wildest dreams. The ex-gladiators say they would have done the same for anyone in such distress. The Senator, however, insists. The men explain that they got into a dispute with an impresario and are no longer allowed to fight in any arena. The Senator says he will make sure all the arenas will be open to them.
Lydia bandages the arms of ex-gladiator Severo. The ten men are given a feast in their honor. Timbro comes in to report that they could not find the man they were sent to find. The Senator becomes very angry saying this is the second time Timbro has failed him. He threatens to return Timbro to slavery, if he fails him again. Or, he will cut his tongue and eyes out, and have him work in the mines as a slave.
The man that the Senator wants to capture is a bandit called Spartacus. He and his band have been terrorizing the area, robbing and murdering. No one has been able to capture the bandit. Jimbro says Spartacus has lookouts all over, so by the time they get to the bandit camp, everyone has vanished. The Senator thinks that perhaps the ex-gladiators could capture Spartacus.
The ten men soon find the camp of Spartacus who is just returning to his camp. The ex-gladiators grab some fire wood and join in a long convoy of men returning with such wood.
The fellows lay the wood close to the tent of Spartacus and then light it on fire. The men of Spartacus, swarm over the ten men, and capture them. One of the men keeps fighting. He recognizes his opponent as being one of the gladiators from the arena that started the little rebellion that got the twelve kicked out of the arena, namely Spartacus. The battle continues on so long that everyone gathers around to watch the two men fight. They are now fist-fighting with no swords.
The men call it a draw and quit fighting. Everyone starts laughing as do the two fighters. A woman comes over to give Rocca a drink. Timbro watches the whole thing from a cliff. Spartacus shows Rocca two cripples and a blind man deliberately hurt under orders from Senator Varro. Spartacus asks that the ex-gladiators go back and tell Varro that if he promises not to pursue Spartacus, the man from Thrace will send back money from Thrace for his ransom as well as for the ransom of all the others with him.
At dinner with Varro, the Senator says that he is not opposed to letting Spartacus and his people leave. The ex-gladiators are pleasantly surprised by his attitude. But one by one, the men fall asleep at the table. Lydia is sent to her room. She leaves. All the rest of the ex-gladiators go to sleep.
Timbro comes out of hiding. The Senator tells him to take the men down to the dungeon. Timbro will then go with the Senator.
In the Senate the senators discuss if the Roman army should take action against the slave Spartacus. One senator accuses Varro of only asking for a legion of Roman troops to use selfishly to put his own house in order. He urges Varro to try treating his slaves with a little more compassion and justice.
Varro is angry that his request was not granted. He starts thinking of a way to force Rome to give him the assistance he wants. As Spartacus has to get to Thrace, they will capture the women and children and hold them. Then Spartacus will have to attack them. Then Rome will have to come to the assistance of Varro.
Lydia is very upset at the seeming rudeness of the ten gladiators. She and her father helped them and then they just left without saying goodbye.
The ex-gladiators set to work breaking their chains. They all gang up on one chain after another and break it. After they are all free they pull down some chains tied to the ceiling of the dungeon cell. This exposes earth and they know they are under the garden.
Severo pulls on a rosebush and the rose on it disappears right before Lydia. She talks to her maid about it and Severo recognizes her voice. He asks her to help them. He needs an axe, a bar and a large knife. Lydia asks: "But wouldn’t it be simpler if I just brought you the key?" All the guys have a good laugh at this.
The men get out and knock out the guards with their fists. Then they grab some weapons from the guards and head to save Spartacus. Severo stops a moment to talk with Lydia. She hopes they will see each other again.
Reaching the camp of Spartacus, the ex-gladiators find the camp burning. They find the blind man still alive. He says the soldiers of Varro attacked them. They took all the young men, women and children away to work on the great aqueduct.
The gladiator who had to fight his father comes with Spartacus and his men to the camp. He runs to find his beloved Marta. She is already dead. Spartacus says that the ten ex-gladiators will pay for this, but the blind man tells Spartacus it wasn’t them. Spartacus now has to get together an army of slaves if he is going to succeed in attacking Varro’s labor camp to free the young men, women and children. The ten ex-gladiators say they will go ahead to the labor camp to learn about the situation and the physical lay-out of the place. Spartacus agrees.
Timbro pushes Spartacus’s people to the labor camp. At the camp a woman who drops from sheer exhaustion and is lashed with a whip. Timbro tries to entice the pretty Daliah, but she won’t cooperate.
The ex-gladiators find the camp. When a blacksmith comes along pulling his wagon, they jump him. The man gladly tells them what they want to know. He tells them about a grotto near his cabin. The grotto is big enough for all ten of the ex-gladiators.
Rocca gains access to one of the women’s quarters. He has come to speak with Daliah. She doesn’t trust him thinking he is one of Varro’s men. Rocca says she must believe him when he says that Spartacus sent him. If she will come with him, he will reunite her with Spartacus. But Daliah says that she can be more helpful to Spartacus if she stays here and works with the others when the attack comes. Just as Rocca is leaving, Daliah says she is not Spartacus’s girl. Rocca likes hearing that.
Rocca tells the nine others that they will have to approach the camp from the side facing the river. The blacksmith comes in. The men get him to join them when they tell him he can have all the iron from the shackles and chains of the slaves.
The ex-gladiators take out the men at one of the gates. They also attack a group of six soldiers on patrol and kill them. They then go after another group and knock them all out.
Timbro is angry at the loss of 24 soldiers. He demands an explanation, but the officer of the day doesn’t know what happened. JTimbro says that something’s going on. The slave are unusually cooperative today. The reason why is that Daliah has spread the word that Spartacus is coming.
Senator Varro says that now tells all the senators that Spartacus plans an attack on Rome itself. Many of the senators now support the idea of the need for Roman legions to stop Spartacus.
Varro tells Timbro to increase the slave working day to eighteen hours. They must get this aqueduct done on time or they won’t get the next project. Lydia arrives at the work camp. She tells Timbro that she didn’t want to come to the camp.
The men have caught a person who they think is a spy. But the spy turns out to be one of the twelve ex-gladiators, the man who lost his Marta to the raid on the camp. The men say that now they are going to make their raid on the camp. Rocca jumps the fence and knocks the guards around, but is finally cornered and arrested. He is placed in wood stocks. Varro says he will be put to death. They hang up Rocca by one arm. He suffers with others under going the same torture.
Daliah sees Rocca suffering. She is planning to rescue Rocca so he is not executed. The slave workers start sabotaging items and start preparing to stop the executions. The archers start executing the men hanging from one arm. And now it’s Rocca’s turn. Daliah runs over to Varro and stabs him in the chest. Then Spartacus starts the attack.
One of the ex-gladiators cuts Rocca down and Rocca runs to save Daliah. Timbro is busy man-handling Daliah. Timbro and Rocca fight. Rocca knocks out his opponent. Timbro recovers and runs out after the slaves who are escaping from the work camp in big numbers now.
The Roman legion is marching on the work camp. Varro is there to watch the confrontation. Spartacus and his men don’t like the silence around them, so he yells to his men that it is a trap and they must break out. It’s hand to hand fighting. The battle is a fierce one, but Spartacus wins it. The men look through the bodies looking for Varro. Varro tries to stay up with Timbro. He sees his daughter and begs her to help him. He reminds her that he is her father. Lydia says she will help him get away. But Daliah is right there to hear it all. Lydia begs her not to tell. Daliah agrees. She goes to get a chariot for Varro. Daliah starts getting the chariot ready to move when Timbro jumps into the chariot and rides away holding onto Daliah.
Varro tries to stop Timbro so he will take Varro with him, but Timbro just rides over the man, killing him. Daliah screams for Rocca to save her. The ex-gladiators chase after the chariot. Rocca catches up to the chariot. He jumps on one of the four chariot horses and stops the chariot. Rocca and Timbro fight once again. This time Rocca kills Timbro with his own weapon. Rocca and Daliah kiss. The guys watch them and everyone has a good laugh about it.
Spartacus travels now with a big army. With him is Daliah and Rocca, the other nine ex-gladiators, the blacksmith and many others.
This is quite the take-off on the legend and history of Spartacus and the slave revolts. Most of it is fictional, but they do have some of the basic elements of truth in the story. It's a variation of an off-told tale. It's not really good, so we'll say it's pretty good. It's a kind of beef-cake action movie with a lot of muscle bound actors. The ten muscle-men act as an ensemble until Rocca falls in love with Daliah and takes on a more prominent role. Helga Liné is very pretty as Daliah. The movie itself could have just as well starred muscle-man Steve Reeves if he was available.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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