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Not only is Sandrigo (Lex Barker) the son of the Doge of Venice
(Feodor Chaliapin jr), he is also extremely popular with the peasants, and
he is engaged to be married to lovely Leonora (Alessandra Panaro). But
unfortunately, he has two mighty enemies, the town's grand inquisitor
Rodrigo (Guy Madison), who also wants to marry Leonora, and the local
pirate Guarnieri (Mario Petri), who hates him because he is the son of the
So the day Sandrigo is going to marry Leonora does not turn into the
happiest day of his life but into utter desaster when he is arrested for
high treason and condemned to death by the Grand Inquisitor. And
ironically, the Grand Inquisitor has employed pirate Guarnieri as his
executioner, exactly the man Sandrigo is supposed to have committed his
crimes with ...
Anyways, Sandrigo does not only manage to escape, he also manages to
unmask the executioner and find out his secret ...
Sandrigo hides with his peasents and, with the help of even his father,
the Doge, he plans a revolt against the Grand Inquisitor. Thing is though,
the Doge isn't really his father, he only has adopted Sandrigo, who was
actually the son of a pirate (and guess who this pirate was ...).
Anyways, Sandrigo's first attempt at revolt fails miserably, not only
is the thrown into the dungeon again, his fiancee Leonora is also to be
executed, after she refuses to marry the Grand Inquisitor. It is only when
the executioner - that is of course Guarnieri, the pirate who has since
been tormented by his conscience - prepares to behead Sandrigo and catches
a glimpse of the tattoo on his chest (the virgin Mary, the same tattoo the
pirate has on his chest as well) that Guarnieri finds out who Sandrigo
really is, and instead of killing him, he helps him to save Leonora and
lead the revolt against the Grand Inquisitor to a successful end ...
Sure, The Executioner of Venice is no match for similar Errol
Flynn-pirate movies from 20 to 30 years earlier, it is a cheap, naive,
even childish swashbuckler with quite a few unlikely plot twists and leaps
of reason (how come the Grand Inquisitor employs a pirate as his
executioner ?), and many of the battle scenes just lack actual conviction,
but on the plus side, the film features colourful sets and costumes, the
actual Venice-backdrop is of course priceless, and then there is of course
the pure, somewhat boyish love for the genre, that makes this film,
despite its shortcomings, totally watchable.