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Kritzerland Heads Into The Arena With “Demetrius and the Gladiators”

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Demetrius and the GladiatorsTwentieth Century Fox’s 1953 Biblical epic The Robe boldly trumpeted on its posters, “The First Motion Picture in CinemaScope – The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses!”  So confident was Fox about the success of The Robe and indeed, the widescreen CinemaScope format, that the studio began production on a sequel (or “continuation,” as it was dubbed) before the first film had even reached theatres.  Screenwriter Philip Dunne, producer Frank Ross, art directors George W. Davis and Lyle Wheeler, and actors Victor Mature as the titular slave-turned-gladiator, Michael Rennie as Peter, and Jay Robinson as the notorious Caligula all returned for Demetrius and the Gladiators.  Director Henry Koster, cinematographer Leon Shamroy, and composer Alfred Newman – all still occupied with The Robe – gave way to Delmer Daves, Milton Krasner and Franz Waxman, respectively for Demetrius.  But though the sequel didn’t match the success of its predecessor, it was far from a disappointment and actually ranked as the fourth highest-grossing film of 1954.  In addition to its repeat performances from the above-mentioned actors, Demetrius also featured Ernest Borgnine, Susan Hayward, Anne Bancroft and Julie Newmar among its cast!  The picture has held up remarkably well, with no small credit due to Waxman’s score.  Kritzerland is premiering a new restoration of this grandiose soundtrack as its latest release, now available for pre-order.

Franz Waxman deftly incorporated Alfred Newman’s themes for The Robe into the sonic tapestry he devised for Demetrius and the Gladiators.  Kritzerland producer Bruce Kimmel writes that Waxman’s score “manages to display a modernist élan and power all its own. Demetrius and the Gladiators was this fabulously versatile composer’s first Biblical epic; as usual, he adapted his talents to a new genre with superbly dramatic dexterity. Beginning with a pulse-pounding ‘Prelude’ which twines Newman’s themes with his own, Waxman moves on to one stunning cue after another.”

After the jump: the lowdown on what sets the 2014 Demetrius apart from its past CD release, plus a pre-order link and the full track listing!

Film Score Monthly premiered Waxman’s score on CD in 2002, but Kritzerland’s presentation is entirely distinct from that original release, overseen by Kimmel and score restoration expert Mike Matessino.  Kimmel explains: “Demetrius and the Gladiators has undergone a long overdue full digital restoration using the best that state-of-the-art audio technology can offer. Restoration and remixing was undertaken at 96k 24bit resolution. Sadly, three cues from the score had completely deteriorated by the time the original reels were transferred in 1997: ‘Kneel to Your God’ (6m3/7m1), ‘Temptation’ (7m2), and ‘The Kiss’ (8m1). Using the original four-track stereo audio for the film itself, we have rescued brief segments of these, which were unmarred by dialogue and sound effects and included them in the program in order to present as much of the score as possible. An additional excerpt of ‘Temptation,’ with sound effects but no dialogue, is included as a bonus track. Also in the bonus section is the deteriorated stereo version of the cue ‘Claudius and Caligula,’ while the main program features a more sonically palatable monaural mix. Every effort has been made to bring out its original brilliance so that, as a listening experience, Demetrius may take its rightful place beside recent musical restorations of other Fox Biblical epics of the period.”

The 1,000-unit limited edition soundtrack will ship from Kritzerland by the first week of March, but orders placed directly with the label typically arrive three to five weeks early.  You can pre-order Demetrius and the Gladiators at the link below!

Franz Waxman, Demetrius and the Gladiators: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Kritzerland CD KR-20027-6, 2014)

  1. Prelude
  2. Night in the Palace
  3. Messalina
  4. Claudius
  5. The Catacombs
  6. The Slave Market / Roman Police
  7. Lucia
  8. Claudius and Messalina
  9. Wait
  10. Torch Dancers / Egyptian Dancers
  11. Caligula Enters
  12. Gladiator March
  13. The Victors
  14. After the Fight
  15. Messalina at Home
  16. Temptation (excerpt)
  17. At the Pottery / The Gladiator’s Party
  18. The Kiss (excerpt) / Fanfare for Gladiator’s Entrance
  19. Victory
  20. Temple of Isis
  21. Claudius and Caligula (mono source)
  22. Messalina and Demetrius
  23. Peter’s Return
  24. Caligula’s Rage
  25. Return to Faith
  26. The Dungeon – Glycon
  27. Caligula’s Death
  28. Gloria
  29. Temporary Dance Track
  30. Temporary Fanfares
  31. Arena Fanfare
  32. Caligula’s Death (unused percussion)
  33. Claudius and Caligula (stereo – damaged)
  34. Temptation (excerpt with sound effects)
  35. Gloria (orchestra only)

Tracks 29-35 are bonus tracks.

A previous edition of the soundtrack was released as Film Score Monthly FSMCD Vol. 4, No. 19, 2002

Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2014 at 10:20

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