In 1500, Duke Cesare Borgia hopes to marry his sister (widowed by poison) to the heir apparent of Ferrara, which impedes his conquest of central Italy. On this delicate mission he sends Andrea Orsini, his sister's lover and nearly as unscrupulous as himself. En route, Orsini meets Camilla Verano, wife of the count of Citta' del Monte (Borgia's next intended conquest); and sentiment threatens to turn him against his deadly master, whom no one betrays twice... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I seem to recall reading somewhere that one of Darryl F. Zanuck's reasons for not bestowing three-strip Technicolor on this otherwise all-the-amenities production was that he was peeved at Tyrone Power, still under contract to 20th-Century Fox at the time, for turning down numerous scripts. That's probably an apocryphal bit of trivia since it wasn't very easy for contractees to turn down very many scripts without a dreaded (and costly) suspension, and also one might guess that the amount of frozen lira available for the extensive location shooting of this stunning swashbuckler wasn't as munificent as would have been needed to ship those cumbersome three-strip Technicolor cameras to Italy and to complete the expensive process of photography and the preparation of final release prints. But there's no doubt that color cinematography would have enhanced the final result.
Nevertheless, as other comments on this title attest, the completed film is one that repays repeated viewings. When I first saw it on a TV broadcast I was especially impressed with Henry King's direction, somehow more flexible and attuned to his actors' capabilities than many of the productions which he helmed on U.S. soundstages. I'll certainly add my praise to other IMDbers' encomiums for the male members of the cast, but there should also be a word of thanks for the lovely Wanda Hendrix's portrayal, convincing as a devoted wife of a much older husband, and the brief appearance as the treacherous Angela Borgia by Marina Berti, whose beauty was soon to grace the Technicolored screen as Eunice in M-G-M's "Quo Vadis?" two years later.
And this film also boasts one of my favorite scores by Alfred Newman. From the main title's opening bars, one knows that this is one of his best achievements, with an exciting sweep and, as the film unfolds, a masterful enhancement of the script's many nuances. This one truly deserves a video release. How about it, Fox Studio Classics?
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