This Italian/German/French co-production is a lively and thoroughly old-school romp of swashbuckling action, romance in the unlikeliest situations and derring-do and heroism, benefiting from one of Cameron Mitchell's most believable roles as Count Wilfred, a wicked Duke who worms his way into the Queen's favour and proceeds to feed her a pack of lies and accuse her real friends of treason. Although the England portrayed in the film is distinctly Mediterranean in nature, the film has strong production values with convincing sets and splendid costumes, and the various action sequences are well-filmed and invariably exciting. The highlight in particular is a wonderful duel at the end of the movie between hero and villain, up there with the likes of the Errol Flynn/Basil Rathbone bout in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD in terms of screen excitement.
There's a strong cast for a change, particularly in terms of Italian actors who usually end up not being the most interesting of characters in peplum or costume adventure films, typically relegated to predictable and uninteresting supporting roles. Here, genre mainstay Ettore Manni is excellent as the heroic Oliver, a wronged-man hero who must prove his innocence whilst facing off against Mitchell and his cronies. Eagle-eyed viewers may spot a small role from Paul Muller as an evil aide; Muller enjoyed villainous turns in this and the likes of AVENGER OF THE SEVEN SEAS before appearing in Italian horror and sleaze films of the '70s such as LADY FRANKENSTEIN. The rest of the supporting actors - not to mention the above-average actresses for the genre, picked for their acting rather than their looks here - are great and all involved do a commendable job.
ATTACK OF THE NORMANS is an always entertaining movie, with a plot that keeps twisting and turning with lots of action to keep it moving and never boring, and benefiting from one of Cameron Mitchell's best villainous performances as the dastardly bad guy. This is an example of colourful, action-fuelled entertainment and old-fashioned escapism at its finest.
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