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There were three versions of the mythic founding of the city of Rome all released in 1961 or 1962, the other two being " Rape of the Sabines" with Roger Moore and "Duel of the Titans" with Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott. This one is the least known but not the least entertaining of the three. "Duel" is more dramatic, action-filled and boasts bigger names and budget with more ambitious plot and character. But this film has equally appealing actors Lex Johnson and Wolf Ruvinskis as the Romans so desperate to populate their city that they must trick the neighboring Sabine women into a visit and then promptly appropriate them against their wills in order to insure their chance at fathering progeny. The two leading women (Lorena and Teresa Velazquez) are defiant and there is some humorous byplay as the hunky Lex Johnson tries to win over his spitfire captive who is resolved on revolt. Ruvinksis as the king doesn't fare as well with his woman because he tries to persuade rather than bully her. The production values give this film a handsome look and the resolution in the end is satisfying. Altogether this version is superior to the Roger Moore film which unfortunately has a rather silly tone to it, perhaps unfairly due to the dubbing.
Of the 3 different productions released around the same time in the early 1960's that deal with early Rome, this one is hands-down best. "Duel of the Titans" w/ Steve Reeves & Gordon Scott is a carbon-copy of 1,000 other Reeves/Scott sword & sandal "epics" and has really nothing to distinguish it. "Rape of the Sabines" with Roger Moore is laughably bad and horribly mis-cast. For an star with at least some pretense of being a "serious actor", Moore comes off as pathetic, as did Paul Newman in his early effort "The Silver Chalice". But "The Rape of the Sabine Women" doesn't make any pretenses, it's a action and fun-filled adventure romp. The performance of veteran character actor Lex Johnson (the token American in an otherwise all-Spanish cast) really holds this film together. A solid, competent actor, just a shame he didn't get more roles. P.S. Catch Lex Johnson in the beginning of the all-time classic TV movie "Along Came a Spider" (1970), which starred Suzanne Pleshette. It's a small, but crucial, role as Dr. David Furie, working in a lab with nuclear fission, in an experiment that goes horribly wrong. His death is what propels the rest of the terrific storyline.
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