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La spada e la croce (1958)

 -  Drama  -  22 December 1958 (Italy)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 44 users  
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Set against the magnificent backdrop of classic Rome, "The Sword and the Cross" is the story of a notorious harlot who must choose between her lascivious lifestyle and the love and affection of her decent-minded brother.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Jorge Mistral ...
Caio Marcello
Rossana Podestà ...
Marta
Massimo Serato ...
Anan
Andrea Aureli ...
...
Lazzaro (as Mario Girotti)
Nando Tamberlani ...
Philippe Hersent ...
Rossana Rory ...
Nadia Brivio
Bob Morgan ...
Giuda (as Roberto Morgani)
Aldo Pini
Giulio Battiferri ...
Franco Fantasia ...
Ezra
Roberto Cesana
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Storyline

Set against the magnificent backdrop of classic Rome, "The Sword and the Cross" is the story of a notorious harlot who must choose between her lascivious lifestyle and the love and affection of her decent-minded brother.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

22 December 1958 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Mary Magdalene  »

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 »
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Color:

(Ferraniacolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Version of María Magdalena, pecadora de Magdala (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE SWORD AND THE CROSS (MARY MAGDALENE) (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1958) **
25 April 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Though I had at least a couple more vintage Christ-related films lined up for Holy Week viewing, I ended up watching only this one…and the fact that it did not amount to much makes the restriction doubly disappointing! Anyway, this peplum looked promising enough on paper: director Bragaglia was an expert at this sort of fare, Yvonne De Carlo was equally seasoned at playing historical figures, and her supporting cast was headed by Victor Mature-lookalike Jorge Mistral (who had been Heathcliff in Luis Bunuel's remarkably idiosyncratic 1954 version of WUTHERING HEIGHTS!) and Massimo Serato, yet another genre stalwart.

However, as was the norm back then, a number of flourishes (read: inaccuracies or, simply, inventions) were incorporated into the plot that rendered it not just unpalatable but downright mediocre! These included having Mary Magdalene turn out to be Lazarus' sister (he, then, is played – believe it or not – by a pre-stardom Terence Hill, still acting under his original name of Mario Girotti!), her being involved with the insurrectionist schemes of arch-criminal Barabbas (depicted as a rather scurrilous individual!) and also De Carlo's alternating relationships between ambitious/unscrupulous Jew Serato (Barabbas' own contact-man!) and centurion Mistral (who also happens to be Serato's old buddy!) newly-arrived to steer Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea, towards accomplishing the will of Rome!

Incidentally, while the Jew exploits Mary's profession of courtesan (needless to say, frowned upon but basically tolerated – because her religion dictates as much – by sister Rossana Podesta': she had already fallen to supporting-role status after the misfire that was Robert Wise's HELEN OF TROY {1955}!), the Roman is shocked by her shameless behavior (especially when he discovers she had been the masked performer of a sultry dance at a party given by Serato: apparently, he clean forgot De Carlo had already made a demonstration of her dubious 'artistic' abilities in his tent when left behind during an attack by Barabbas and his fanatics!)...WTF?! – should it not be a Christian's prerogative to try and reform a Pagan?

And what of Jesus' own appearance: being from the time where it was not deemed fit to show His features (the remake of KING OF KINGS was still 3 years away), His presence is so fleeting throughout that He might as well have been a ghost...which Christ almost is when unhistorically turning up in Mary Magdalene's garden beseeching that she mend her wicked ways! Naturally, this eventually occurs after He famously intervenes at her impromptu stoning; she ultimately repays Him by an equally fictitious – and unbelievable – visit to His prison cell (thanks to Mistral's clout apparently), where His redeeming spirit is unabated. Following which, we fast-forward to the Crucifixion scene and, by extension, the film's end – a sure sign, if one were needed, that Religion was the last thing on the film-makers' minds!


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