Slave, The (1962): Sergio Corbucci’s Sand-and-Sandal Adventure, Starring Steve Reeves in his Best Role

From the Vaults

Sergio Corbucci directed The Slave (Italian: Il figlio di Spartacus, lit. The Son of Spartacus), an Italian peplum starring Steve Reeves and Gianna Maria Canale.

The Slave
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The Slave is an unofficial sequel to Kubrick’s 1960 blockbuster epic, Spartacus (starring Kirk Douglas), as it mentions the character of Varinia, specifically created for the novel template for that film.

In 48 B.C., 25 years after the revolt of Spartacus, the slave leader’s son Randus (ignorant of his heritage) has become a soldier in the Roman army.

Stationed in Alexandria, Egypt, Randus has been promoted to centurion by Gaius Julius Caesar, and is tasked to travel to the city of Zeugma in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire and learn the secret plots planned out by the local Roman governor, Marcus Licinius Crassus.

Randus leaves Egypt on a war galley out to sea, accompanied by his decurion friend Lumonius, his Germanic servant Beroz, ambitious Gallic officer named Vetius, and Vetius’ sister Claudia.

Randus befriends a young Egyptian slavegirl named Saida, owned by Claudia. On foggy night, the galley collides with a hidden reef and Saida is thrown overboard. Randus dives in to save Saida, but both are unable to get back to the ship.

Washed up onto a beach, they decide to travel across the desert until they find caravan to provide them with water and supplies. They then encounter a slave caravan guarded by detachment of Libyan mercenaries who work for Crassus, but are captured and added to the slaves’ ranks.

During the journey, one of the slaves, ex-gladiator and survivor of Spartacus’ army Gulbar, recognizes Randus as the son of Spartacus and Varinia after discovering Spartacus’ amulet around the young centurion’s neck.

Together, Randus and the slaves free themselves from their captors and kill the Libyan soldiers. Before Randus’ friends, Vetius and Lumonius arrive with some of Crassus’ guards to rescue Randus, Gulbar tells Randus to find him and his slave army at the legendary “City of the Sun.:

In Zeugma, Randus meets Crassus, who orders the execution of slaves who participated in the uprising despite Randus’ protestations, and Lumonius informs him of Crassus secretly amassing an army.

Accompanied by Beroz, Randus later rides to the City of the Sun, where he finds the grave of Spartacus. Gulbar and the freed slaves convince him to take up his father’s legacy.

Randus, armed with his father’s sword and helmet, frees slaves condemned to death and then begins a rebel campaign. Randus is tasked to capture the Son of Spartacus, but fails; to throw off suspicion, Beroz plays his master’s role until Randus changes into his secret identity unnoticed.

In order to draw the Son of Spartacus into a trap, Crassus organizes a party in his palace, whose central attraction is the slow death of several slaves in a sealed cage filled with poisonous fumes. Randus dons his mask and intervenes; in the resulting chaos, Murdok, the brother of Crassus’ most important ally King Pharnaces and the party’s featured guest, is killed.

Enraged, Crassus decides to deliver Randus to Pharnaces in order to maintain his support in defeating Caesar and assuming rulership over Rome. Lumonius, who remains loyal to Randus, flees and informs the rebels of Crassus’ plan before he proceeds to warn Caesar.

As Crassus’ entourage camps, the rebel slaves, led by Beroz, attack them, free Randus and capture Crassus and Claudia, while Vetius is killed by Randus.

Spared by Saida’s pleas for mercy, Claudia is abandoned with Beroz’s dagger for merciful suicide, while Crassus is killed by the slaves. Later, Caesar arrives and, after learning of Randus’ heritage, sentences him to death by crucifixion–Randus has become powerful symbol for resistance against Roman order.

As the sentence is to be carried out, the province’s people join their hero in death. Impressed by their loyalty, and realizing that killing them would leave the province worthless, Caesar pardons Randus.

In the end, Randus returns his father’s sword to Spartacus’ grave so that a future hero may use it to rise against oppression.

The Slave was the last sword-and-sandal film for actor Steve Reeves, and is considered to be among his best roles.

Cast

Steve Reeves as Randus
Gianna Maria Canale as Claudia
Claudio Gora as Crassus
Jacques Sernas as Vetius
Ombretta Colli as Saida
Ivo Garrani as Julius Caesar
Enzo Fiermonte as Gulbar
Ahmed Ramzy as Murdok
Franco Balducci as Beroz
Roland Bartrop as Lumonius
Renato Baldini as Verulus
Giovanni Cianfriglia as Soldier

Credits:

Directed by Sergio Corbucci
Screenplay by Adriano Bolzoni, Giovanni Grimaldi, Bruno Corbucci

Produced by Franco Palaggi
Cinematography Enzo Barboni
Edited by Ruggero Mastroianni
Music by Piero Piccioni[

Production company: Titanus

Release date: August 24, 1962 (Italy)

Running time: 100 minutes

Note:

TCM showed the movie on July 14, 2022.