Years in the making, this film was beset by all sorts of financial and production problems. However, when it did finally reach the screen, it had a reasonable amount of box-office success, especially overseas. Gary Cooper once starred as the great Polo, as did Rory Calhoun (in a film that
was shooting at about the same time). Alain Delon was originally selected to play the lead in this version, however, Horst Buchholz became the man who brought pasta and gunpowder back from the Orient. Pope Gregory X, Alberti, sends the Venetian sailor to Asia with an offer of Catholic civilization
for the Mongol hordes, led by Quinn as Kublai Khan. Buchholz's journey takes him through Jerusalem, across the Himalayas, and over the Gobi Desert to China. Along the way, he and his men are captured by Tamiroff, who executes one of the men in a torture chamber. Sheik Sharif helps Polo and his men
escape to Samarkand where Polo is reunited with Girotti, his father. Once again, they are set upon by Mongolian bandits. This time, Buchholz is helped by Martinelli, who saves his life at the cost of her own. After many travails, all well photographed and action-filled, Buchholz and his men are
attacked by Quinn's enemies. They escape aboard the barge of Moon, a princess on her way to Quinn's palace. The elderly Khan is about to choose a new bride. Buchholz now learns that the docile Quinn is feuding with his warlike son, Hossein. The son is eventually overthrown in a battle that
features the first use of gunpowder. Buchholz remains in China for 17 years before returning to Italy, where he was promptly thrown in jail for staying away too long.
Shot in Yugoslavia, France, Egypt, Italy, and Afghanistan, with lavish sets and costumes, MARCO THE MAGNIFICENT suffers from too much production and not enough script. The acting is fairly good throughout. However, Welles, in a small role as Buchholz's teacher, is barely recognizable under all the
makeup. Because the film had four different directors and a series of false starts, there are noticeable differences in styles in various scenes. Tamiroff is very funny as the old man of the mountain, and Sharif does his usual good work. In spite of its inconsistencies, the film offers plenty of
action and adventure to satisfy almost everyone.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Years in the making, this film was beset by all sorts of financial and production problems. However, when it did finally reach the screen, it had a reasonable amount of box-office success, especially overseas. Gary Cooper once starred as the great Polo, as… (more)