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Fabius loves his beautiful but vulnerable city, Rome, and he also loves his beautiful but invulnerable fiancée, Amytis. Fascinated by the tales she has heard about Hannibal, who is about to attack Rome, Amytis is driven by curiosity to the edge of his camp. Captured, she makes a last request of the indifferent Hannibal...that he spare the city. She offers to lead him to a hilltop where she can prove that taking the city is not worth the trouble. Hannibal goes with her, even though she has to cup her hand under his chin and float him across a river as he can't swim. Before long, Hannibal is doing more surveying of Amytis than of Rome. And Fabius finds he can defend neither his city nor his fiancée against the advances of Hannibal. Especially after he has his elephants painted bright colors because Amythis thinks gray is drab. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
During the "slave market" dance number Marge Champion at one point has a small basket on her head. It falls off and lands on the ground between her and Gower. They pull in for a closeup and when they pull back the basket is gone. See more »
In opening credits: "In 216 B.C., Hannibal the Barbarian marched on Rome. The history of this great march has always been confused. This picture will do nothing to clear it up." See more »
Only for fans of the stars or MGM Musicals completists, like me. I've gotta collect them all! Of course this one was made during the decline, as Dore Schary took over the studio and he was *not* a fan of musicals. So, the songs are weak and there's more emphasis on spectacle & action
mixed in with comedy & romance. But the mixture doesn't blend very
well. Each genre/character is underdeveloped and unsatisfying. For instance, if you enjoy action/war movies, you may be disappointed with a few chases, brief hand to hand combat...no epic battle, unless you count a little flame-throwing and battering at Rome's gates. Sorry, no bloodshed! (And I know you were expecting it from a movie with "Darling" in the title.)
Marge & Gower Champion are kind of wasted. They have one major number where they parade around with trained elephants. It's lame. I mean, they mostly hop around on one foot (yes, the elephants too) and the Champions are definitely limited by their dancing partners. Not their best choreography. Corny bits like mimicking an elephant's trunk, etc.
Esther Williams has one memorable underwater ballet with some statues that come to life, but other than that, her swimming abilities are used in more plot-driven ways than usual. Most unsettling is an extended chase sequence where soldiers chase her off a cliff and swim after her, trying to kill her...with bows and arrows...underwater! Is that even possible? It's *definitely* impossible to hold your breath for that long. (Something we don't normally question when Esther's underwater sequences are more lighthearted.) Why combine an air of "realistic" menace with such a fantastical premise? Let our fantasy be...fun! It was actually disturbing to see Esther menaced this way, in her "natural" habitat. She should always be grinning that big toothy grin at the camera and frolicking in the water happily. Don't mess with the natural laws of Esther Williams movie physics!
Howard Keel plays his usual charming brute, but maybe a bit too brutal this time, since he's a conquering warrior. Uncomfortable watching him manhandle Esther Williams, hold a knife to her throat, etc. Aaah, love! Marge & Gower also have this slave/master subplot that's pretty offensive. I suppose it's some consolation that she refuses to "be" an elephant...like all the "other" elephants he has trained to *obey* him. Uhh, love?
Not much fun to see George Sanders play an ineffectual mama's boy who can't get the girl. He can be suave and charismatic, but not here. I mean, he does what he's meant to...I just don't enjoy seeing him play a buffoonish sort. Would've been better if he was presented as a charmer with wit and intellect to rival Howard Keel's more robust, earthy qualities. A different, but equally attractive choice, to make Esther's decision less obvious. (But I'm not spoiling anything here by revealing Esther & Howard end up together - c'mon, they're the leads, and we know how these movies work!) Sure, Sanders' speech-making ability is acknowledged, but also ridiculed - and Esther doesn't bother to show up for the speech, so we get the message that Sanders is boring... dangit, some women *like* smart, articulate men! They could've created another supporting character who falls for Sanders, proving him a valid love interest who's just not right for *Esther*, since she and Howard are more physical/less intellectual types. Oh well.
Wow, I don't remember how any of the songs go. They really *are* forgettable. So, it's easy to see why this movie failed to please the Box-office Gods and led to the fall of the Great MGM Empire! I'd buy it on DVD anyway, especially if that outtake musical number from the Laserdisc (mentioned by a previous reviewer) is included. Curious to see Marge & Gower's deleted dance...it's got to be better than the Elephant Walk Of Shame.
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