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Mamie Van Doren
Beyond the obvious problems, really not bad, well written
The thing is this movie overcomes it's problems and is a worthwhile version of this story. It gets off on a bad foot right away with a bad action scene, not just cheap, it's bad. All but one scene of historical battling are really poorly staged. If you can only afford to have ten guys fighting you'd hope that at least the fighting would be good but no. These scenes are at times inept and Castle, though cheap by choice and or by circumstance was rarely an inept director. But the script knows to keep these scenes to a minimum and Burr and Fleming are frankly pretty good, especially Burr who quickly makes you forget his Perry Mason persona. There is a fun and campy girl painted gold dance scene which also features gals dressed as Roman's with whips. This is probably the high low light of the film and you don't see it coming. After this scene the movie constantly becomes better. I stopped hoping for a campy disaster of a film and found an actual film here, hampered by the afore mentioned lapses.
This is a different take on this story. The movie begins with Caesar dead on the floor and the story then focuses on Celopatra's political reason for pretending to love men and Anthony's friend trying to stop him from throwing it all away. Anthony is called a man who knows only war and pleasure and he's just tired enough of war to let pleasure overcome him. And all this is handled well by the writing and the performances. Admitting that Lundigen is miscast and doesn't look Roman, you get over this as he and Burr's chemistry as friends and rivals works well.
Besides, there is a scene with guys wrestling a real Bear, not a guy in a suit!! And there is one mostly good action scene involving some daringly placed cameras under the hooves of charging horses and chariots. You get used to the cheap sets and bad matte paintings and get over the usually poor action scenes as the story and characters hold together and gain interest. And there are a lot of costumes for a cheap film.
The stock music score is well put together and it all ends with a rather nice slow dissolve. Castle proves that if he can't be embraced totally he cannot be shunned or dismissed either. Credit to a good script and lead performances and to Wild Bill Castle for keeping it moving and colorful--something he always did.
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