Jason and the Argonauts, 1963
The Story: Jason, the son of a murdered king, goes fleece shopping with the most feared warriors in Greece. He encounters all manner of monsters while sailing from one battle to the next.
Gratuitous Skin: Jason and his short-skirted men battle stop-motion animated skeletons in the Ray Harryhausen directed scene that inspired a generation of special effects nerds.
Historical Accuracy: The film completely embraced the ludicrous excesses of the ancient myth. The story didn't age well.
The Moral: As much as we whine about it, CGI is a good thing.
The Story: A Roman gladiator and slave leads his followers into battle against the decadent empire. When his army is finally forced to surrender, his men won't reveal their leader. To keep things simple, the Romans kill everybody.
Gratuitous Skin: A skinny dipping scene leads to passionate petting. Kirk Douglas's chin looks like an orifice.
Historical Accuracy: Spartacus was a former gladiator and leader in the Third Servile War, a slave rebellion in 71 BC, who was subsequently put to death on the Appian Way – basically your run-of-the-mill Hollywood pretty boy.
The Moral: Crucifixion can be a group activity.
The Story: When a former friend and Roman citizen forces Jewish prince Ben Hur into slavery, he becomes a war hero and charioteer before returning home to compete with his captor in a lawless race.
Gratuitous Skin: Charlton Heston and the world's saddest crew team paddle shirtless and manacled into a Mediterranean maritime battle.
Historical Accuracy: The first half of the movie is a fairly understated historical account of the subjugation of the Near East by Roman legions. The second half is basically Fast and Furious: Judea Drift.
The Moral: Jews can be good at sports.