Monday, December 1, 2014

Movie Review: Hero of Rome

Hero of Rome (Il colosso di Roma)
Starring: Gordon Scott, Gabriella Pallotta, Massimo Serato, Gabriele Antonini, Maria Pia Conte, Roldano Lupi, Philippe Hersent, Franco Fantasia, Bernard Farber, Nando Angelini, Fortunato Arena, Tullio Altamura, Valerio Tordi, Attilio Dottesio, Gaetano Quartararo, Antonio Corevi, Gianni Baghino 
Director: Giorgio Ferroni
Dorica Film, Produzioni Europee Associati (PEA), Unicité, Les Films Jacques Leitienne, Italy, France, 1964. 
Hero of Rome title
This movie is published as a part of Warriors 50 movie pack box published by Mill Creek Entertainment.

In 508 BC Rome is at war with Etruscans. Hungry Romans are waiting for a shipment of grain to arrive. The Rome does not have any spare troops to give help when the convoy gets ambushed. Mucius (Gordon Scott) goes alone for a rescue mission. He is the strongest hero in Rome. Clelia (Gabriella Pallotta) is the fiancée of Mucius. Her friend is Valeria (Maria Pia Conte) who is daughter of Roman leader Publicola (Philippe Hersent). 
Mucius fighting the Etruscans
Gabriella Pallotta and Gordon Scott
Mucius and his fiancée Clelia
Maria Pia Conte and Philippe Hersent
Valeria and Publicola
The former tyrant and the last king of Rome, Tarquin (Massimo Serato) is in alliance with the Etruscans. Mucius tries to assassinate the king of the Etruscans, Porsenna (Roldano Lupi). Mucius tells Clelia that even if he fails he will still inspire Romans. His inspiration is Lucretia, Lucrecia killed herself to show Romans how to live after Tarquin shamed her. The events led to the beginning of the Roman Republic. 
Gabriella Pallotta and Gordon Scott
Mucius must go for a dangerous mission
Mucius infiltrates the camp but kills the wrong man. He is captured and Porsenna interrogates him. To show that he will not speak, Mucius sticks his right hand in the fire. Mucius says that if Porsenna is a man of honour, he should break his alliance with bloodthirsty Tarquin. Porsenna's son Arunte (Gabriele Antonini) tells Tarquin about the possible truce and Tarquin gets angry. He insults Mucius and tells lies about Clelia. Porsenna breaks the alliance with Tarquin and sends Mucius to Rome to negotiate peace. 
Mucius infiltrates the camp
Gordon Scott and Gabriele Antonini
Mucius burning his hand
Roldano Lupi
King Porsenna
While on his way to Rome Arunte meets Tarquin. He suggests that to secure peace the Etruscans must demand hostage girls from Rome, Clelia being one of them. Tarquin sends a spy Claudius (Franco Fantasia) to Rome. Claudius must tell Horatius (actor unknown) that a moment to attack has come. The senate uneasily agrees to send hostages to Etruscan camp. Ten girls arrive to Porsenna's camp and Porsenna orders Arunte to see that the girls have it comfortable. Arunte protects them from Tarquin's advances, getting Valeria's admiration. Valeria goes for a walk with Clelia and Arunte. Clelia goes wandering alone and hears Tarquin's attack plan. Tarquin catches her but Clelia and Arunte arrive and Tarquin flees the scene. Meanwhile in the camp Tarquin's men are harassing the girls. Arunte throws them out. The girls decide to try to warn their families in Rome about Tarquin's plot. 
Massimo Serato
Gabriella Pallotta and Maria Pia Conte
Clelia and Valeria
Maria Pia Conte and Gabriele Antonini
Valeria begins to admire Arunte
In Rome the conspirators make their move and murder important citizens. They also attack Mucius. Mucius can fight the rebels even with his one hand hurt. Mucius and Publicola manage to repeal the attack. Mucius and Publicola decide to go to Porsenna to tell about the attack and ask the release of Valeria and Clelia. Meanwhile Clelia and the other girls escape. Horatius returns to Tarquin to tell about the failed coup. Now Tarquin knows that Mucius and Publicola are on the way to save Clelia and Valeria. 
The hostage girls escape
Tarquin leaves the camp with archers in order to kill Valeria. He plans that it will provoke Romans to break the truce. Porsenna orders to arrest Tarquin. Tarquin's henchmen attack and the Romans use shields to protect Valeria and Clelia. Mucius sends a man to get help. Mucius and his soldiers fight Tarquin's henchmen. Mucius uses his healthy hand and a shield as his weapon. However Tarquin catches the girls and kills Valeria. Mucius' left hand is not strong enough to use sword efficiently. Trying to fight Tarquin, Mucius falls off a cliff. Arunte promises to revenge Valeria's death but when Arunte returns to camp, Tarquin has taken the command. After his daughter's death, Publicola declares that the truce is broken. 
Gordon Scott shield
Mucius fighting with a shield
Mucius falls off the cliff
Gabriele Antonini
Arunte swears revenge
Mucius survives the fall and returns to senate. Senate is considering about surrendering to Tarquin. Mucius declares that it is better to die than to live under tyranny. Mucius must lead the troops against Tarquin's army. However he still can not use his right hand. Arunte escapes and comes to meet Mucius. He tells that after ten days Clelia will be made Tarquin's slave. Arunte helps Mucius to train his left hand. After vigorous training he wins training matches against the best soldiers. He still needs something for defence, so he gets an iron glove for his right hand. 
Gordon Scott
Mucius returns
Mucius training with iron glove
On the eve of the decisive battle Mucius leads a small group of soldiers to attack the camp. Tarquin's main army is elsewhere. Arunte tries to talk to the soldiers that are loyal to Porsenna. The Roman Army attacks the Etruscans. Mucius and Arunte attack Tarquin's camp and free Porsenna. Tarquin's forces are beaten. Tarquin takes Clelia as hostage. Mucius challenges Tarquin to a duel. Mucius kills Tarquin and Arunte kills Milone (Bernard Farber) who is about to kill Clelia. Mucius and Clelia get together at last. 
Gordon Scott and Gabriella Pallotta
Mucius and Clelia get together
Again the movie is a good adventure combining some early Roman legends although quite freely. The action is good, with sword battles and some muscleman action. What makes it a bit different than the usual peplums is that the hero must overcome his physical handicap and learn to use it as an advance to win the battle. Some of the bigger battle scenes are taken from other movies, at least from Hannibal (1959) and The Trojan Horse (La guerra di Troia, 1961). Hannibal seems to be a popular source for battle footage in peplum films. 

In Roman legends Gaius Mucius Scaevola was a brave youth who tried to kill King Porsenna but was captured as in the movie. He also burned his hand to show his bravery and Porsenna sent him to Rome to negotiate for peace. He got a surname Scaevola which means Left-handed. Louis-Pierre Deseine made a statue "Mucius Scaevola" in 1791. 
Louis-Pierre Deseine: Mucius Scaevola
Tarquin was also a real historical figure, rape of Lucretia by Tarquin's son Sextus caused an revolt in Rome and Tarquin was overthrown. However he died in exile years later than the events depicted in the movie. 

Also the story of Cloelia is related to King Porsenna but not to Mucius. She escaped with other Roman hostage girls and then returned to Porsenna's camp. Impressed by her bravery Porsenna let her select half of the remaining Roman hostages to be released, she selected Roman boys so that Rome could get more soldiers. The story of Cloelia is also composed to libretto "Il trionfo di Clelia" (1762) by Pietro Metastasio. Also Rubens painted a picture in 1630-40 "Cloelia Passing the Tiber". 
Peter Paul Rubens: Cloelia Passing the Tiber
Rating: Good

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