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THE MAGNIFICENT ADVENTURER (Riccardo Freda, 1963) **1/2
An above-average "Euro-Cult" epic which also passes for a serviceable biopic of celebrated Renaissance-era artist Benvenuto Cellini (played by American Brett Halsey in one of his better showcases). Like THE BARBARIANS (1953), this film depicts the sacking of Rome and, in fact, here we are shown how he is asked by the Pope himself (Bernard Blier) – countering a fraud charge into the bargain – to lead the resistance!
Of course, he also comes off as an unrepentant ladies' man – with jilted suitors being even ready to die for him – and whose charm affects tavern wenches (represented by spirited Claudia Mori aka Mrs. Adriano Celentano) and noblewomen (like Francoise Fabian, rather staid but undeniably lovely) equally. The latter is the neglected (and, typically, much younger) wife of a dullard engulfed in researching his eminent heredity which our hero purports to take an earnest interest in so as to get at the lady(!), though he eventually ends up with the more down-to-earth of the two mentioned females. The narrative actually begins in his native city of Florence – where Cellini wins a prize judged and distributed during an audience before the king (while taking his first-ever bath!) for a gold-laden model. However, rivals accuse him of cheating in this case as well and this leads first to a brawl and eventually the destruction-by-fire of the sculptor's studio (and with it a large statue of Perseus triumphing over the Medusa he had intended dedicating to the Italian royal)!
The script (by regular Freda collaborator Filippo Sanjust), then, encompasses history lesson, politics, romance, comedy, tragedy, action and spectacle in its one-and-a-half-hour duration. By the way, Andrea Bosic is once again on hand – here briefly incarnating another famous figure of the era, Michelangelo! I have a number of Freda's other titles in this vein lined-up for the Easter season; as for the general consensus regarding the film under review, it is solidly entertaining fare but perhaps not quite top-drawer material when stacked against the director's more highly-regarded (and still best-known) work.
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