50 Classic Movie Warriors, Disc 4

50 Movie Warriors, Disc 4

 

 

Colossus and the Amazon Queen (orig. La regina delle Amazzoni), color, 1960. Vittorio Sala (dir.), Dorian Gray, Rod Taylor, Gianni Maria Canale, Ed Fury. 1:30 [1:24]

There’s no Colossus, but there is Glauco (Ed Fury), strongest man in Greece as judged by an all-out battle royale that begins this mostly-humorous outing. Rod Taylor plays Pirro, conniving friend of Glauco who helps get them into and back out of trouble through a series of…well, escapades…involving the Queendom of the Amazons, where some men who arrive are married for one night then enslaved in bear-guarded mines while others seem to carry on as marketeers. Dorian Gray as Antiope is a continuing “Egyptian” inventor. There are holes in the plot, and some sequences seem to be missing endings, but this is mostly just peculiar good fun.

I guess the plot doesn’t much matter. A lot of sight gags, good scenery, slapstick, and mostly just fun. Music distinctly unlike a typical movie of this genre. If you treat this as a Serious Sword & Sorcery film it’s atrocious—but it’s really hard to do that. Not great, but $1.25.

Duel of Champions (orig. Orazi e Curiazi), 1961, color. Ferdinando Baldi & Terence Young (dirs..), Alan Ladd, Franca Bettoia, Franco Fabrizi, Robert Keith. 1:45 [1:29].

Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but I found this one richer and more subtle than I expected—specifically, more of a family-conflict plot and less pure action. It’s not a gladiatorial epic; it’s something quite different.

The setting: Rome and Alba have been fighting an exhausting war, as shown in the clumsy battle royale at the start and the successful ambushing of the 4th Legion, on its way to beef up the Romans. “Exhausting” in this case means that the resources of both city-states are pretty much exhausted—and, after some significant plot (the would-be future king has supposedly fled during the ambush; his wife, daughter of the king, is then immediately wed to the next future king—but the original future king was captured, escaped, and has been recuperating), both kings agree to see what their joint gods would have them do.

The sibyl proclaims that the war should be decided by three brothers from each city fighting a duel in one month’s time: to the winner goes the war. But the only plausible set of Roman brothers includes the recuperated one, who’s been denounced by his father for (supposedly) fleeing the battle and decides to go live peaceably outside the war zone. Lots of discussion ensues; at the last minute, he shows up to the fight. (The original title refers to the families: the Roman Orazis and the Alban Curiazis.) Without giving away plot turns, it’s fair to say that Our Hero not only triumphs (by himself) but takes steps to see that the two cities live in peace.

To my taste, this was a good family-conflict drama with some action thrown in. The sound track’s poor at times, but the print’s pretty decent. You’re only seeing part of the widescreen picture, but the pan-and-scan was competently done. [I see why many IMDB reviews are negative: as a traditional sword-and-sandals movie, it’s not great.] I could see watching it again (unlikely though that is), so by the relaxed standards of these flicks, I’ll give it $1.75.

Hero of Rome (orig. Il colosso di Roma), 1964, color. Giorgio Ferroni (dir.), Gordon Scott, Gabriella Pallotta, Massimo Serato. 1:30 [1:27]

The Romans have ousted and exiled evil king Tarquin, becoming a republic—and, of course, the king wants Rome back, allying with Etruscans to do battle. Enter a strongman hero (Mucius), following which all sorts of betrayal and battles ensue. There’s a happy ending.

I don’t think the plot deserves more. There are elements that aren’t followed up, but mostly there are strong men, treacherous men, beautiful women, lots of scenery, and battles galore. I should note one thing about Mucius’ typical one-huge-man-defeats-ten-warriors bouts: he does a lot of tossing people over his shoulder, and sometimes it’s just a leetle too obvious that the other person has set up the stunt, unless appropriate fighting style was to place your foot on top of your opponent’s outstretched hand. Decent pan & scan. Not great, not terrible: $1.00.

Thor and the Amazon Women (orig. Le gladiatrici), 1963, color. Antonio Leonviola (dir. & screenplay), Susy Andersen, Joe Robinson, Harry Baird, Janine Hendy. 1:35 [1:26]

On one hand, there’s some interesting scenery. On the other…

Really vicious misogyny, not just saying that a violent female dictatorship is bad but—explicitly, several times—that women should never lead a government. Of the two blacks in the movie, one is the vicious Amazon queen; the other, who seems to be more muscular than Thor, is mostly a comic figure. All men are slaves…except for the men who are guards. The gladiatrices (that’s how they say it) don’t so much engage in battles as in bloodbaths, and despite the fact that they are also essentially slaves, they’re loyal to the queen (until they aren’t)..

Oh, and it’s a terrible pan&scan: at times, both actors in a scene are off to the sides and either invisible or barely visible. For that matter, the big “fight” between 100 trained gladiatrices and Thor turns out to be a tug-of-war, “settled” because the flames between the two sides burn through the rope.

If I didn’t look at what’s being said in the flick, it might be worth $0.75; as it is, at best $0.25.

 

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