If imported historical dramas dubbed with comic intensity are your cup of tea, then this Italian period piece will amuse you. Rome, 1527: A pagan mercenary army nominally loyal to King Charles of Bourbon surrounds Rome's battlements, but the talk of the town is the rivalry between the Orsini and Colona clans. Unbeknownst to their fractious relatives, Prince Massimo Colona (Pierre Cressoy) and Princess Angela Orsini (Helene Remy) plight their troth and prepare a secret wedding. But Angela's father, Prince Orsini, simultaneously betroths her to the slimy French ambassador, the Marquis de Serra. The Marquis and King Charles see the Orsini-Colona tiff as advantageous to their long-term plans; such internal divisiveness is paving the way for a barbarian invasion of Rome. Prince Orsini intercedes as Massimo and Angela are about to elope and challenges the young whippersnapper to a duel. But the Marquis pays a henchman to stab the Prince and blame the ignoble slaying on Massimo. Forced into exile, Massimo has only one advocate in court, but the pleas of his champion, sculptor/warrior, fall on deaf judicial ears. Meanwhile, the pagan horde milling outside Rome's walls demands 400,000 worth of gold ducats, threatening to invade of their not paid. Unable to cough up the extortion money, Pope Clement VII orders his emissary to prepare the people for a siege. While the Orsinis and Colonas quarrel amongst themselves, the barbarians storm the city with an eye to plunder and pillage. But Massimo stirs revolt among the peasants can he galvanize the rest of Rome's chicken-hearted citizens, unmask the Marquis as a Machiavellian schemer and reclaim the hand of the fair Angela? Sometime after the heyday of Cecil B. DeMille and before Joseph E. Levine hit pay-dirt distributing Eruo-spectacles featuring muscleman Steve Reeves in a variety of fetching togas, huckster producers ground out swashbuckling escapism. Made in 1953 and later dubbed for American audiences, this Italian epic is beautifully lit, inaccurately costumed, and acted with a honey-baked ham delivery.
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