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The king Tarquinio is banished from Roma . Mucio Scevola (Gordon Scott)
married to Clelia goes to Porsena's headquarter and demonstrates his
courage by burning himself a hand , for that reason is named Scevola
(the left-handed) . Tarquinio (Massimo Serato) unites to Lars Porsena
(Roldano Lupi) , king of Etruscos . They ask to Romans as hostages a
group of young women (Gabriella Pallota , Maria Pia Conte). But
Aronte(Antonini) , Porsena's son , enamored to Valena (Pia Conte) frees
her and she passes the river Tiber . Meantime , Scevola hides his hand
into an iron glove and begins the fighting .
This is an enjoyable sword and sandals movie with historical backstage , action , a love story , battles and spectacular scenarios . Gordon Scott is top-notch , as the historic hero who finds many dangerous situations while attempting to save Rome and his true love , Clelia , of several risks . Strong and robust Gordon Scott was a magnificent muscle-man . He was one along with Ed Fury , Brad Harris , Kirk Morris , Reg Park , Mark Forest , among others , whom to seek fame and fortune acting absurdly as muscle mythological figures , but anybody topped Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott in popularity . He played another historical character : ¨Coroliano , hero without country¨ with battle stock shots taken from this one and directed again by Giorgo Ferroni , a Peplum expert (Conquest of Micenas , Trojan war) . The motion picture is based on true events but has not prospect historical . The real deeds are the following : Tarquino(534-509, B.C.) was the seventh and last king of Roma and he governs tyrannically . The rape of Lucrecia by his son caused a riot and he was overthrown , the Roman Republic was proclaimed and he actually disappeared . Rating : Better than average Peplum fodder and better than most Sword and Sandals movies , thanks to Gordon Scott and slick direction by Giorgo Ferroni .
Among Italian peplums of the period around 1960, there were some concerned
with Roman legend, including "Coriolano, eroe senza patria", which was also
helmed by Giorgio Ferroni. "Il colosso di Roma" is another
After having overthrown their king, Tarquinius Superbus (Massimo Serato), Rome is a young republic. Tarquinius tries to regain his throne with the military assistance of the Etruscan king, Porsenna (Roldano Lupi). Film sets in with Romans suffering from hunger, and top-notch soldier Mucius first securing the arrival of a corn transport, then deciding to kill Porsenna. In the king's camp he kills the wrong man, is captured, but proves his boldness by voluntarily burning his right hand in an open flame. The tiny, but crucial story about Roman bravery, which originally has a noble youngster as the failing killer, is generously embellished and furnished with a muscular experienced military leader as Mucius instead, played by ex-Tarzan Gordon Scott.
As the story progresses, it is interwoven with another heroic character from Latin legend, Cloelia, who is presented as Mucius' fiancée. She is among the hostages produced to secure the peace with Porsenna, but organizes the escape across the River Tiber when they find themselves betrayed. Her rôle is performed by one of the countless second-rate beauties of Italian screens, Gabriella Pallotta.
Although it may be deemed interesting to illustrate a national saga of yore, the film's pathetic hero-worship seems out of date for the mid-sixties. Still, monumental adventures were fashionable, and Italy's writers happy with any adaptable material. It is almost surprising how much of the legend's original idea can be recognized.
Expectations of a grand epic, as nurtured by the heavily orchestrated opening credits of nearly three minutes, are not at all lived up to by the following 82 (in the version I saw) minutes. Achievements are hardly average in all categories, although cinematography (Augusto Tiezzi) and score (Angelo Francesco Lavagnino) come from peplum's most experienced artists. Not even its best-hated villain, Massimo Serato, is really credible as Tarquinius. Fighting scenes are well staged, although some of the material seems to be taken from other films, too.
I am in agreement with the reviewer who says that most peplum pictures
involving the Roman Empire start with the era of Julius Caesar and go
through the pagan and Christian eras and then the fall. There are very
few involving the original kingdom which was simply Rome and its
suburbs and the Republic that came from it.
Modern historians are not in general agreement as to what constitutes myth and what constitutes fact in the early days. Two stories of the early Republic are combined into one film in Hero Of Rome starring former Tarzan Gordon Scott.
Scott plays Mucius Scaveola, the last name translated means left handed. He became such for an act of incredible bravura. When he went into the camp of the Etruscan king who was besieging Rome and missed assassinating him. When captured and ordered to be put to death, Mucius thrust his right hand, his sword hand into a flame and held it there for several seconds. The Etruscan king was so impressed he set him free.
The second story is the overthrow of King Tarquinis the seventh and last king of Rome. Tarquinis simply went into exile and out of history like Francois Villon or Jean Lafitte. But here the two stories are combined and as these stories are legend, the Italian filmmakers just did a little legend combining.
According to Wikipedia the Roman history Livy is the source for all of this. No other sources survive so his word has to be taken. Nevertheless Scott does a good job and Hero Of Rome is definitely a cut above the glut of peplum pictures from the early Sixties.
In the U.S., very few films have been made about Rome that were not set
in the time of Julius Caesar or shortly thereafter. Hollywood's sword
and sandal epics mostly have a Christian theme, which makes it
difficult to get into earlier Roman history (Spartacus was probably the
first exception to this rule, and encountered some resistance in
Hollywood because it did not have Jesus in it).
It's interesting to see at least one picture that not only takes place before the time of Caesar and Christ, but is set when Rome was only one city among many on the Italian peninsula, and had just ousted the hated King Tarquin and formed the Republic.
However, this is not a historical film; it's peplum, and while the production values aren't rock bottom, the acting and characterizations are cardboard. I can only imagine what the dialogue was like in Italian, but with wooden English dubbing it's very campy. I got a few good laughs out of it at first.
I haven't seen many films of this genre, having missed most of the Hercules movies of the 60s. It's amusing up to a point, but as the film goes on, it gets somewhat boring.
One thing's for sure: if I'd seen this movie when I was ten years old, I would have loved it. At that age, I went for anything with Romans and swordfights in it. So at least, this flick brought back some childhood memories.
What singles out this feature is the grandeur of the first 2 minutes.
What follows is a presentation typical of so many other works of this
genre. The musical overture towers over this work like a mountain over
a rolling plain.
The musical overture, written by A. Francesco Lavagnino, the great prolific Italian composer of this era, is another inspiring work that convinces one that this composer could have been a giant among classical composers of an earlier time.
Another feature, Duel of the Champions, contains an overture of similar stature written by Lavagnino. So, enjoy the first 2 minutes, and if you like movies within this genre, you may find this entertaining as well. After all, Gordon Scott is a pretty good substitution for Steve Reeves.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The city of Rome is under siege from an enemy army. After failing to slay the leader of the opposing army, brave General Mucius (a solid and credible performance by brawny erstwhile Tarzan Gordon Scott) mutilates his right hand by sticking it in a fire. However, Mucius does manage to develop a truce with kindly King Porsenna (well played by Roldano Lupi) and his noble son Arunte (likable Gabriele Antonini). Alas, the evil, treacherous and unscrupulous General Tarquino (a fine performance by Massimo Serato) goes out of his way to foil said truce so he can become the tyrannical ruler of Rome. Sound gripping and thrilling? Unfortunately, this film's potentially stirring plot gets greatly undermined by Giorgio Ferroni's pedestrian direction and Antonio Visone's extremely talky script. The plodding pace in particular saps much of the momentum and excitement from the meandering narrative. Moreover, the infrequent rough'n'ready swordfights are for the most part staged with precious little flair. Only an impressively massive last reel epic battle set piece finally manages to bring the picture to life. That said, both Augusto Tiezzi's crisp cinematography and especially Angelo Francesco Lavagnino's robust'n'rousing score are up to par. As an added plus, Gabriella Pallotta as Mucius' loyal fiancé Clelia and Maria Pia Conte as the fetching Valeria are quite easy on the eyes. Watchable, but overall kind of dull and instantly forgettable.
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