Gordon Miller is rehearsing a musical comedy in the penthouse suite of Gribble's hotel...on credit. The mounting bill is driving Gribble frantic. Chaos increases when playwright Glen ... See full summary »
One doesn't see many movies set in Moorish Spain so this has a certain "novelty" value working in its behalf. Its story, however, is the standard-issue one about the oppressed townspeople rising up to overthrow an occupying force. Thus we have the usual scenes of the townspeople being drilled in the martial arts to prepare them for the climactic battle, and these scenes are wrapped around a predictable plot about the young man who's initially reluctant to assume the mantle of leadership which is his birthright.
Colorful costumes, bright photography, and a few good vistas help detract from the overall familiarity, and Mark Damon makes an appealing though not especially charismatic hero.
Sometimes movies linger in the mind because of just one scene, however, and this movie has such a moment, on two separate occasions. The Moors controlling the Spanish town which forms the movie's setting have a unique punishment to instill fear in their subjects. Early in the movie we see a bandit, stripped to the waist, enduring this punishment. He's hanged by his wrists from a tripod built over the well which lies in the middle of the town square. (The well is cylindrical and seems to contain no water.) Then he's dropped down into this well, down down down, until the rope binding his wrists brings him to a sudden, socket-wrenching halt. The bandit's scream of pain echoes inside the well and can clearly be heard by all the people in the square. He's then pulled up to the top of the well before being dropped down again. This procedure is carried out a third time, with blood now flowing down his arms from his bound wrists. Another drop isn't necessary because, by this time, the bandit is dead.
Later in the movie Mark Damon endures a similar punishment with the camera giving us several close-up shots of him hanging by his wrists. (And no, unlike Jeffrey Hunter's crucifixion scene in "King of Kings," Damon's armpits have definitely not been shaved.) Perhaps no other movie has shown this form of torture and it must be an excruciating one. Audiences everywhere surely wince every time the victim is jerked to a muscle-tearing, bone-breaking halt.
For a list of other one-of-a-kind tortures in the movies, how about Alan Ladd's keelhauling in "Botany Bay" and Roger Moore's squeezing-by-shrinking-rawhide in "Gold of the Seven Saints?"
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