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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last Days Of Pompeii (1959)

A Roman legionnaire (Steve Reeves) returns from the Holy Lands to Pompeii and finds his father murdered, supposedly by renegade Christians but in actuality by a group of soldiers following orders from someone high up in the ruling government. Though the film is credited to Mario Bonnard, the bulk of the film is actually directed by Sergio Leone who took over the directorial reins from Bonnard. This may explain why the film looks so sumptuous and elegant rather than cheesy feel of most of the sword and sandal movies churned out by Italy during the late 50s and early 60s. Only (very) loosely based on the Edward George Bulwer-Lytton novel, the Vesuvius volcano eruption seems like a deus ex machina seemingly coming out of nowhere with no foreshadowing and a convenient way of wrapping up the story which seems to have painted itself into a corner. Shot in the Super TotalScope wide screen format by Antonio Ballesteros, Leone shows his talent for wide screen compositions that would bloom his the 60s "spaghetti" westerns. The music is by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. With Christine Kaufmann, Fernando Rey, Anne Marie Baumann and Angel Aranda.

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