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One of the approximately 300 Italian peplum (sword and sandals) films made between 1957 and 1965, Lion of Thebes is unusual for a number of reasons: one, there is actually something like a coherent story rather than a simple collection of "strongman set pieces"; two, there is actually a fair amount of dialogue, and the acting is rather better than usual--one almost has the impression that the muscleman (Aryan) cares about what is happening; three, the film is a little more ethically ambiguous than usual: the good woman (Helen) and the "bad" woman (Naïs) actually want the same thing; the "usurper" is actually the proper heir to the throne; the wicked counselor is evil, but actually wants to save Thebes from its weak and careless leader. Peplums tend to range from laughably bad to simply agonizingly bad--this one's actually okay.
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