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The Sword and the Cross (1956)

Le schiave di Cartagine (original title)
| Drama | April 1960 (USA)
Tarsus, in the Roman province of Cilicia, AD 120. Two Carthaginian sisters, Lea and Esther, are bought as slave girls by Roman tribune Marcus Valerius, who gives them as a present to proud ... See full summary »

Director:

Guido Brignone

Writers:

Francesco De Feo (screenplay), Francesco De Feo (story) | 6 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gianna Maria Canale ... Julia Martia
Jorge Mistral ... Marcus Valerius
Marisa Allasio ... Lea
Ana Luisa Peluffo ... Esther
Rubén Rojo ... Flavius Metellus
Luigi Pavese Luigi Pavese ... Publius Cornelius
Germán Cobos ... Tullius (as Herman Cobos)
Nando Tamberlani Nando Tamberlani ... Proconsul (as Fernando Tamberlani)
Albert Hehn ... Livius
Marcello Giorda Marcello Giorda
Ricardo Valle Ricardo Valle ... Stephen
Nietta Zocchi Nietta Zocchi
Vinicio Sofia Vinicio Sofia
Renato Navarrini Renato Navarrini
Edoardo Toniolo Edoardo Toniolo
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Storyline

Tarsus, in the Roman province of Cilicia, AD 120. Two Carthaginian sisters, Lea and Esther, are bought as slave girls by Roman tribune Marcus Valerius, who gives them as a present to proud Julia Martia, daughter of the proconsul. Ambitious, greedy and vindictive, Julia is betrothed to the cynical Flavius Metellus, a member of the Senate, but in fact she is in love with Marcus. However, he prefers the simple sweetness of Lea, which drives Julia to cruelty and revenge. The proconsul is murdered by Flavius Metellus who becomes his successor. Believing the Christians were responsible for her father's death, Julia, now the new proconsul's wife, orders the persecutions to begin. Marcus is ordered to carry out the campaign, but faced with the courage and faith of the Christians he realizes they are innocent. He is arrested after being betrayed by a shepherd and joins the two sisters in the dungeons. Lea is tortured and blinded after refusing to divulge the hiding place of the remaining ... Written by Jim Marshall

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

An unforgettable spectacle of marvels and miracles. See masses of the faithful crucified on the flaming hills. See the decadent splendor of the Roman orgies. See the wild chariot race of the Roman destroyers. See the noble captive beauties sold on the slave block.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Italy | Mexico | Spain

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

April 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sword and the Cross See more »

Filming Locations:

Cinecitta, Rome, Italy

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Ferraniacolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

 
THE SWORD AND THE CROSS (Guido Brignone, 1956) **1/2
23 March 2014 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Occasionally, an international moniker is attributed to different films within the same genre which, when it involves some of the same credentials, can prove quite confusing: for instance, I had already watched and reviewed a peplum by this title – alternately named MARY MAGDALENE (1958), and with which it shares leading man Jorge Mistral (for what it is worth, a Luis Bunuel alumnus)! Besides, the nominal star in the film under review i.e. Gianna Maria Canale would also appear in THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS (also 1958)…among whose international titles is THE CROSS AND THE SWORD, and which – coincidentally – had as co-star Bunuel regular Francisco Rabal!

While the mythological/fantasy peplums were largely juvenile and often silly, the historical/religious ones were generally solemn and downright dull; this one obviously falls in the latter category, whose plot is yet again a variation on the oft-filmed "Quo Vadis" – as Roman Mistral shuns noblewoman Canale for Carthaginian Christian(!) Marisa Allasio. The former's spite towards the latter is quite drastic, though – since she has her ritualistically whipped by her Mrs. Danvers-like maid and, later still, blinded, Samson-style, by a roving iron placed before her eyes! The rest of the narrative deals, as expected, with dreary political intrigue and hokey sermonizing – which leaves little space for proper sword-and-sandal action…yet Canale's inevitably violent demise is nicely devised, as she falls off a speeding chariot to be trampled by the horses of the riders giving chase! Unfortunately, the ropey quality of the copy I watched – recorded off Italian TV – left much to be desired and occasionally interfered with my viewing pleasure!

To complement my recent mini-marathon of Riccardo Freda epics, I may be able to include a few more of the numerous ones made by his partner Canale – for the record, I have access to eight other unwatched flicks in this vein where she is featured! With respect to Mistral, among his other costumed fare is the obscure but intriguing French Arabian Nights tale SHEHERAZADE (1963; in which none other than Jean-Luc Godard himself was roped in to appear, since his then-muse Anna Karina was the leading lady!). As for director Brignone, it should be noted that this was his penultimate work, made at age 69: tellingly, apart from his swan-song SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR (1959), the only other effort of his that I am familiar with dates from the Silent era – namely MACISTE IN HELL (1925)!; even so, looking at his extensive filmography on IMDb, I noticed not only a trio of other movies I managed to record off Italian TV but also a handful related to historical figures often touched upon by the cinema – such as Cleopatra, Socrates, Lorenzino de' Medici, Edmund Kean, Beatrice Cenci, Agi Murad, etc.!


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