Monday, March 23, 2009


Directed by Luigi Capuano 1963
Cast: Mickey Hargitay (Flabius), Jose Greci (Priscilla), Livio Lorenzon (Genseri), Renato Baldini (General Aetius), Nerio Bernardi (Pizo), Andreina Paul (Calpurnia), Mirko Ellis (Wilfried), Bruno Scipioni (c.s.c., as Cracius Agripa), Giulio Tomei, Dante Maggio,
I Gladiatori (The Gladiators)
Benito Stefanelli (Audentius), Giovanni Cianfriglia, Giulio Maculani, Aldo Canti, Aldo Cristiani, Franco Daddi,
In Ordine Alfabetico (In Alphabetical Order)
Luigi Casellato, Antonio Corevi, Andrea Costa, Pasquale De Filippo, Emilia Della Rocca, Gino Marturano, Amedeo Trilli
e con (and with)
Andrea Checchi (Gavinius)
e con (and with)
Rolando Lupi (Valentinian III)
Uncredited: Giovanni Scarciofolo (aka Jeff Cameron, as wrestler) and Riccardo Pizzuti
James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff present
Story by Luigi Capuano, Arpad De Riso
Screenplay by Arpad De Riso, Roberto Gianviti
Music by Giuseppe Piccillo
Edizioni Musicali Nazionalmusic
Unit Manager Giulio Pappagalla
Co-director Gianfranco Baldanello
Camera Operator Mario Sensi
Assistant Production Secretary Laura Cella
Stunt Coordinator Benito Stefanelli
Continuity Olga Pehai
Costumes Elio Micheli
Set Decorator Camillo Del Signora
Set Designer Giuseppe Ranieri (c.s.c.)
Film Editor Antonietta Zita
Sound Technicians Franco Groppioni, Raffaele del Monte
Head Makeup Pierantonio Mecacci
Makeup and Hairdresser Luisa Bargini, Otello Santangela
Costumes Casa D’Arte di Firenza
Furnishings Rocchetti
Footwear Pompeii
Weapons Rancati
Director of Photography Raffaele Masciocchi
Executive Producer Ferdinando Felicioni
Studio Teatri Di Posa De Paolis – IN. CI. R.
Optical Effects S.P.E.S.
Dir. E. Catalucci
Eastmancolor Euroscope
Sound Editing Fono Roma
98 mins
Prod. Reg. 3396
Additions from Dizionario Del Cinema Italiano/Dictionario Gremese:
Assistant Editor Olga Pedrini
Sound Editor Laura Curreli
Sound Franco Borni
Set at the end of the reign of Roman Emperor Valentinian III, this film might have been a sequel to ATTILA as its hero is the son of the Roman General Aetius – the general credited with defeating the invading Hun. However, these filmmakers weren’t interested in doing that; they were only interested in the standard kind of sword fighting action. Why they decided to set the film at a time when Christian Rome fell to the Vandals – thus depriving themselves of the standard evil Rome versus pious Christian tale but still indulging in some Christian victimization imagery - is puzziling. If you’re going to avoid the usual cliches of time and situation, it would seem necessary to make an effort to establish the new milieu. Instead, these filmmakers quickly rewrite history to fit a simple corruption scenario, which only gives them the barest excuses for the action scenes they really want.
Here’s what the annoymous historian for Wikipedia has to say about Flavius Placidius Valentinianus:
Born in the western capital of Ravenna, Valentinian was the only son of later Emperor Constantius III and Galla Placidia, daughter of the Emperor Theodosius I and granddaughter of Emperor Valentinian I. After the death of his father (421), he followed his mother and his sister (Justa Grata Honoria) to Constantinople, when Galla broke with her brother, Emperor Honorius, and went to live at the court of Theodosius II.
423, Honorius died, and the usurper Joannes took the power in Rome. To counter this menace, Theodosius nominated Valentinian Caesar of the west (October 23, 424), and betrothed him to his own daughter Licinia Eudoxia (Valentinian would marry her in 437). In 425, after Joannes had been defeated in war, Valentinian was installed Western Emperor in Rome, on October 23, at the age of six.
Given his minority, the new
Augustus ruled under the control first of his mother, and then, after 433, of the Magister militum Flavius Aëtius. Valentinian's reign is marked by the dismemberment of the Western Empire; the conquest of the province of Africa by the Vandals in 439; the final abandonment of Britain in 446; the loss of great portions of Spain and Gaul, in which the barbarians had established themselves; and the ravaging of Sicily and of the western coasts of the Mediterranean Sea by the fleets of Gaiseric.
As an off-set against these calamities, there was the great victory of Aëtius over
Attila the Hun in 451 near Chalons, and his successful campaigns against the Visigoths in southern Gaul (426, 429, 436), and against various invaders on the Rhine and Danube (428-431).
The burden of taxation became more and more intolerable as the power of Rome decreased, and the loyalty of its remaining provinces was seriously impaired in consequence. Ravenna was Valentinian's usual residence; but he fled to Rome on the approach of Attila, who, after ravaging the north of Italy, died in the following year (
454 Aëtius, whose son had married a daughter of the emperor, was treacherously murdered by Valentinian. On March 16 of the following year, however, the emperor himself was assassinated in Rome, by two of the barbarian followers of Aëtius. These retainers may have been put up to the act by Petronius Maximus, a wealthy senator who the following day March 17 had himself proclaimed emperor by the remnants of the Western Roman army after the paying of a large donative. He was not as prepared as he thought to take over and restabilize the depleted empire, however; after a reign of eleven weeks, Maximus was murdered by a Roman mob. King Gaiseric and his Vandals captured Rome a few days later and sacked it for two weeks.
Valentinian not only lacked the ability to govern the empire in a time of crisis, but aggravated its dangers by his self-indulgence and vindictiveness.
From this history, the screenwriters created a romance between Flabius, son of Aetius, and Priscilla, daughter of Valentinian, threatened by the corrupt actions of Valentinian’s wife, Calpurnia – which is odd considering that the real Emperor’s wife was named Licinia Eudoxia, and two men – Crassius Agripa and Pizo, who scheme to make money by stealing the supplies being sent to Aetius’ legions and selling it to the invading Gaiseric and his Vandals. When their plot is thwarted by Flabius in cooperation with the Six Invincibles – an undefeated gladiator squad, the evil conspirators decide to suggest a marriage between Gaiseric’s son and Priscilla; reasoning that since the elder Valentinian is sure to die soon of old age, Gaiseric’s son would soon be able to inherit the throne of Emperor. Aside from the fact, that the real Valentinian was only 35 when he was assassinated, it is interesting to note that he had two daughters (Eudocia and Placidia) – and one married Aetius’ son (Gaudentius) and the other married Gaiseric’s son; thus avoiding the violent romantic conflict the movie portrays. And wouldn’t a potentially more interesting movie be about how after Valentinian’s murder, his wife was under pressure to marry the usurper so she appealed for help to her daughter’s future father-in-law – which led to the Vandal’s sack of Rome? Of course, that scenario doesn’t have any obvious room for a group of six heroic gladiators.
In any case, the screenplay is really only there to give excuse for the action. The film opens with reused battle footage from CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS to illustrate Aetius’ defeat of the Vandals. Next comes a scene at an arena in Rome played partly by a shot reused from IL GLADIATORE CHE SFIDO L’IMPERO, aka CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR featuring Walter Barnes. (Surely, this dinky little theater isn’t supposed to be the Coluseum is it?) While the actors in the Royal viewing area sketch in the plot, the Six Invincibles, an undefeated gladiator troupe, march in and illustrate why this movie was made.
Stunt coordinator Benito Stefanelli plays the leader of the Six Invincibles and while Mickey Hargitay is credited as this film’s star, Benito gives himself all the best battle scenes and even a fine death. On the other hand, Mickey gets to wear a loin cloth and almost get crucified by the villains.

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