Buster Keaton wasn’t the only artist who explored ancient Rome years after it had collapsed. One William Shakespeare was also interested in the subject, and his play “Julius Caesar” was turned into a star-studded MGM drama featuring people like Marlon Brando, James Mason, Edmond O’Brien, and Deborah Kerr. The themes of political intrigue and betrayal resonate no matter what time period you’re in, and the ancient Roman setting is just icing on the dramatic cake.
It wasn’t bad being an ancient Roman if you were rich, but what about the 99 percent? Spartacus was one of those, before he led an exciting and action-packed revolt against his Roman enslavers. Director Stanley Kubrick gives the battle scenes a fair dose of excitement, and star Kirk Douglas is as charismatic and fun to watch as ever as the noble slave-turned-warrior.