History Professor Brad Fletcher heads west for his health, but falls in with Soloman Bennett's outlaw gang. Fascinated by their way of life, Fletcher finally takes over the gang, leading ... See full summary »
Gian Maria Volonté,
A race-car driver whose life, both personal and professional, is in a rapid downfall is invited by her ex-husband's new wife to stay at their plush estate. The two women form a bond, and ... See full summary »
Raffaele Capece, un insegnante di mandolino, fa il posteggiatore nei locali pubblici. Ha due guai incurabili : ha una gamba offesa ed un padre inguaribile giocatore, che sperpera al lotto ... See full summary »
Arms dealer Yolaf Peterson aims to make a sale to guerilla Mongo, but the money is locked in a bank safe, the combination known only to Professor Xantos, a prisoner of the Americans. Yolaf ... See full summary »
An insurance broker, very fond of music, has two sons: the older is in love with a Sicilian girl but her father is against their love story; the younger is a disgrace to his father since he... See full summary »
A group of Italians take a flight to Sweden - but among them there are the tourists, and the immigrants. Two bourgeois couples choose a typical Italian restaurant by its name, 'La Trattoria... See full summary »
Over the past couple of years, the English-dubbed version of this Italian-French co-production has been shown continuously on TCM UK. However, my unconditional love for Paul Leni's 1928 Silent classic (once one of my top cinematic holy grails) has always kept me away, perhaps not wishing to sully my fond memories of it. Still, now that sufficient time has elapsed and coming hot on the heels of a long list of similar Italian "sword and sandal" epics I've watched recently (a habit which seems to be nowhere near exhaustion!), I decided to give this one a go at long last...
Well, to say that Sergio Cobrucci's remake is inferior to Leni's original would be the understatement of the year. Ever since I've seen him in Luis Bunuel's BELLE DE JOUR (1967), I've always liked having Jean Sorel in a film but here, inexplicably playing a dual role, he's certainly no match for Conrad Veidt's bravura performance. The make-up itself is not particularly effective either and the film-makers' decision to take several liberties with Victor Hugo's text is a mixed blessing, too: not only has the titular character suffered a namechange (from the lyrical Gwynplaine to the more prosaic Angelo) but he even turns villainous (becoming the Court's Executioner no less) when his beloved Dea is cured of her blindness and falls for the dashing figure of a patriotic rebel played by none other than Jean Sorel himself!!
The film's setting is also unaccountably changed from 1700s Britain to Renaissance-era Italy where the hateful Borgias - Cesare (hammily portrayed here by Edmund Purdom) and Lucrezia (played by a sultry Lisa Gastoni, and the film's one undeniable bright spot) - preside over their lands with sinful recklessness. Although Veidt was also seduced by a vampish Olga Baclanova (who, amazingly for its time, does appear fleetingly naked in one sequence), unfortunately for him he wasn't allowed to indulge in any sizzling romps in the hay with her as Sorel and Gastoni do in this version. In a sense, this is also what's essentially wrong with this remake: while certainly a watchable if thoroughly routine historical melodrama, it ends up being merely a vulgarization of the sublime original with Corbucci displaying none of the visual poetry which marked Leni's masterpiece. Luckily for him, however, his luck was about to change as he immediately embarked on the film he is perhaps best-known for - the Gothic-tinged Spaghetti Western DJANGO (1966)...
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