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In 1848, the northern Italian region of Casamare is facing an imminent military invasion by the neighboring Austrian army. In the town-square of Casamare, at the statue of the famed Italian hero Count of Monte Cristo, the local military governor, Viovanni Larocca, is holding a patriotic speech in order to bolster the people's morale and to fund-raise more money for the Italian army. Most people have complete trust in their military governor. However, Larocca is summoned to the luxurious estate of Count Dimorna, one of the leading noblemen of Italy, whose son, army captain Renato Dimorna is on leave. At Count Dimorna's castle, military governor Larocca is confronted by an angry Dimorna who accuses Larocca of treason. His proof is a letter from the enemy to Larocca confirming large transfers of money made to a personal Swiss account in Larocca's name. Larocca murders Dimorna and makes it appear as if the count committed suicide because the count's guilty conscience of being the real ... Written by
It's mid 19th century Italy and Anthony Quinn pulls something of a palace coup by framing provincial governor Wilton Graff of the very treason that Quinn is perpetrating. He kills Graff in the process and sets up shop in his palace.
And for some very weak plot reasons when Quinn has a chance to let the mob dispose of the 'traitor's' son John Derek he chooses to save him and keep him in the palace. Derek pretends to be more seriously wounded than he is and soon learns of Quinn's double dealing. At that point Derek dons the Mask Of The Avenger and starts to right some wrongs in the style of that other Dumas hero Edmund Dantes whose statue is in the town square.
Phil Karlson who was two years from directing one of the great noir films of all time, Kansas City Confidential, seemed to lose his muse doing this one. Though the film is based on a Dumas novel and mentions his famous hero The Count Of Monte Cristo, it bares more resemblance to a weak remake of The Mark Of Zorro.
Somehow I'm willing to bet that some obvious plot flaws that are in this film aren't present in the Dumas novel. Derek looks good with sword in hand, Anthony Quinn hams it up good as the villain. Jody Laurence is fetching as the dueling countess who Derek and Quinn both want to make some time with.
Still Mask Of The Avenger is ultimately unsatisfying, Dumas has been better served cinematically speaking elsewhere.
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