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Location: Prague, Bohemia
Member Since: Tue Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 1,551
Subj: Peplum review 26: Duel of Champions/Hero of Rome
Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2020 at 01:37:31 pm EDT (Viewed 89 times)

Sorry for the flood of peplum reviews but I'm catching up for my June schedule.

I watched a few films set during the early Kingdom of Rome, prior to the republic and later the Empire. This was when Rome was young and ambitious, fighting the towns of the surrounding area.

Duel of Champions (1961)
Directed by Terrence Young of James Bond fame, this one concerns the war between Rome and Alba, and stars Alan Ladd as Horatio, one of three Roman brothers. During a battle, it is believed that Horatio fled in fear, when in reality, he was knocked out and cared for by a mountain girl. He returns to Rome in disgrace, his girl married and his sister kidnapped by Albans.
To end the war, a contest between 3 brothers from each side is arranged but Horatio at first refuses, only arriving in time to help his brothers. Tragedy ensues as his two brothers are slain, but he defeats the others, unfortunately one of whom had become his sister's lover.
While the brother fight seems far-fetched, it is based on an actual Roman legend of the Horatia brothers.
Infortunately, since Romans and Albans dress similarly, it is hard to distinguish between them. And Alan Ladd unfortunately sleepwalks through a role that should have been one of real pathos. I read something about him walking out over a pay dispute, so maybe that's why he is so bland.

Hero of Rome (1964)
Set in 509BC in the early roman republic, a Roman soldier Scaviola is captured and tortured, losing the use of his right hand, thrusting it into a fire like a true badarse. He returns to Rome, training himself to fight with his left.

Gordon Scott plays Scaviola. As a body-builder he looks more like he should be playing a hercules role than a roman centurion. But he does a good job with both the acting and the action. I wonder if Scott was actually left handed as he's pretty adept at fighting southpaw.

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