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The Warrior Empress (1960)

Saffo - Venere di Lesbo (original title)
Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 24 August 1960 (Italy)
He-man Phaon impresses Sappho of Lesbos at the temple of Aphrodite, circa 600 B.C.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Riccardo Garrone ...
Antonio Battistella ...
Susy Andersen ...
Actis (as Susy Golgi)
Alberto Farnese ...
Strelsa Brown ...
Priestess of Aphrodite
Aldo Pini ...
Andrea Fantasia ...
Elda Tattoli ...
Sappho's Nurse
Isa Crescenzi ...
Peasant Woman
Lilly Mantovani ...


He-man Phaon impresses Sappho of Lesbos at the temple of Aphrodite, circa 600 B.C.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

24 August 1960 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Warrior Empress  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Phaon: Where am I? Who are you?
Sappho: Don't be afraid, you're safe. This is the temple of Aphrodite.
Phaon: Aphrodite? Are you Aphrodite?
Sappho: Oh, no. I'm just a woman from Mytilini.
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User Reviews

THE WARRIOR EMPRESS (Pietro Francisci, 1960) **
25 April 2011 | by See all my reviews

To begin with, I watched this patiently expecting the titular figure to turn up somewhere along the line but, after 90 minutes, no such luck! For what it is worth, the film does mark a potentially intriguing overlap of epic exponents – namely director Francisci (who, with HERCULES {1957}, led the peplum into its most popular phase) and star Kerwin Mathews (who had been the protagonist in many an effects-filled fantasy/adventure). However, what we have here is a thoroughly routine effort with the emphasis on romance and dancing – the heroine (played by Tina Louise) is one of a group of scantily-clad Vestal Virgins-cum-Amazonians (they even get to demonstrate their ostensible ruggedness by organizing a chariot race amongst themselves!) who, while engaged to soldier Riccardo Garrone (best-known as a comic and for his TV ads publicizing coffee in the guise of Saint Peter!), becomes involved with wounded fugitive agitator Mathews when he takes refuge in their remote temple ("an island within an island", as Garrone describes it solely for the viewer's benefit).

A semi-interesting revelation concerns Mathews' true métier; however, the film falters mainly because we are supposed to believe that the people are oppressed yet, not only do we get scarce evidence to this end but the tyrant (hammily played by Enrico Maria Salerno) is, at best, an eccentric obsessed with his own cleanliness (he is constantly asking whether his bath has been prepared)! In fact, the potentate is merely exiled at the end, leaving the jilted Garrone to bear the brunt of the villain's expected come-uppance (at the hands of a lion, since a den filled with these animals conveniently lies just outside the Vestals' temple-gate, presumably to prevent anyone entering or exiting). By the way, the original Italian title of this one is highly suggestive – SAPPHO, VENUS OF LESBO (for the record, a real-life Greek poetess/muse)! – but the only other tell-tale sign (apart from the girls' afore-mentioned athletic prowess) of any homosexual activity going on behind closed doors is the fact that Louise's room-mate proves jealous of her attentions for the hero, reports him to the naturally-annoyed Garrone (though he fails to notice her own pining for his fiancée!) and, predictably, gets her just desserts by eventually becoming lion-fodder.

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