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L'Ultimo Gladiatore

Messalina Against the Son of Hercules
Hercule contre les Mercenaires / Der Letzte der Gladiatoren / Gladiatore di Messalina

Italy/France 1964
produced by
Sancro Film, Promoteo Film, Les Films Jacques Leitienne, Unicité
directed by Umberto Lenzi
starring Richard Harrison, Lisa Gastoni, Marilù Tolo, Philippe Hersent, Livio Lorenzon, Jean Claudio, Lidia Alfonsi, Gianni Solaro, Enzo Fiermonte, Giuseppe Addobbati, Maria Laura Rocca, Charles Borromel
written by Gian Paolo Callegari, Albert Valentin, music by Carlo Franci

Messalina, Caligula

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In a campaign through Briatin, Caligula, the mad & decadent emperor of Rome, takes Glaucus (Richard Harrison) & his fiancée Hena prisoner & takes them to Rome with him. & while Hena is soon made slave of Caligula's young aunt, the ruthless Messalina (Lisa Gastoni), Glaucus is to fight & die in the arena.

But in the arena, Glaucus shows what a fierce fighter he is, & soon he has not only defeated all of his enemies, he has also made an attempt at Caligula's life. Caligula is furious, but through his actions, Glaucus has caught the eye of Messalina, who figures she might have use of a man like him to overthrow her nephew ...

But Glaucus soon not only manages to make an escape, he also manages to take Hena with him, & before long he has established contact with some honest Roman rebels ...

Meanwhile at the imperial palace, Caligula has ordered a banquet for those he thinks oppose him, but insead of showing them who'S the boss around these parts, he is brutally assassinated. In the chaos that ensues, Messalina, who was behind the assassination from the beginning, manages to claim the throne for her husband, the benign Claudius, & soon enough manages to send Claudius away on a campaign to Britain. With her hubby gone, Messalina shows her ture colours, & proves she can be as mad & cruel as Caligula, if not more so. & soon enough, she has Glaucus arrested again, & Hena too, & threatening Hena's life she makes Glaucus her assassin, killing her political opponents.

Thing is, Glaucus refuses & makes another getaway with Hena, only to be caught again, & this time the pair of them are to be publicly roasted in a cage on open fire. But by now, benign Claudius & his troops return from Britain, & they, with the Roman rebels, fight & defeat Messalina & her army of gladiators (why she suddenly has an army of gladiators I don't know). Glaucus & Hena are of course freed & in the end leave for Britain with the gratitude of the Roman populace.

 

Rather unremarkable gladiator-epic, no better or worse than so many other peplums (the Italian version of the sword & sandal-genre) made in its time. Only some torture scenes, like when hero & heroine are to be roasted publicly, provide a mild chuckle.

By the way, neither the Son of Hercules (as the American title - Messalina Against the Son of Hercules - claims) nor Hercules himself (as the French title - Hercule contre les mercenaires - claims) have anything to do with this film. On the other hand, the film has only very little to do with historical facts.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD