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Terry O. Morse
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>
The press book cites a song entitled 'This Is What I Love' by Burton Lane and Harold Adamson which must have been cut from the release print at the last minute. See more »
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 »
A legendary MGM flop, one of the big musicals reputed to have helped kill off big musicals. And it's pretty silly in spots, with a buff Gower Champion singing lyrics like "If this be slavery/ I don't want to be free!" and song-and-dance cues arriving perfunctorily. But it's also an enterprising effort at keeping a dying genre alive, with plenty of sung-lyric exposition by Richard Haydn as a bewildered historian, and more plot-song integration than most MGM musicals attempted. It's also sexier than the average musical, quite frank about why Hannibal kept delaying his attack on Rome, and with plenty of chemistry between Esther Williams and Howard Keel in the main plot and the Champions as the secondary, comic-relief couple. The Burton Lane-Harold Adamson songs aren't great, but they aren't terrible, and for such a huge production, it's surprisingly light on its feet and irreverent. There's a fairly exciting, well-edited chase-through-the-water climax, and if Dorothy Kingsley's screenplay doesn't achieve the Shavian heights it's attempting to scale, it's smarter than most musical screenplays of the day. The wide screen is well filled, and the thing moves quickly. Well worth a look.
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