This was a very popular fascist-era swashbuckler that, had it been American, might have starred Alan Ladd and Maria Montez. The film, directed by Enrico Guazzoni, was based on a novel by Emilio Sálgari, author of adventure books widely read by youngsters in Italy. Fosco Giachetti is Carlos, son of the governor in a South American outpost under Spanish rule (Maracaibo, in what is now Venezuela.) To make amends for his philandering lifestyle, Carlos assists his father by infiltrating a pirate band that is threatening the stability of domain. He wants to bring these bandits to their heels. Of course he falls in love with Manuela, daughter of the Corsaro Verde (Green Pirate) who had been executed by the governor. Manuela is played by the legendary diva-darling of Mussolini's regime, Doris Durante. In her autobiography `Il romanzo della mia vita,' Durante reveals that she was carrying on an affair with a doctor form Lucca during the entire time the film was being shot in the Tirrenia studios. But that's another story. The movie itself is very appealing in a top-of-the-line B-film sort of way, replete with dueling, ship-storming piracy with some badly-directed swordsmanship, superficial action, cartoon-strip characters. There is a fight to the death between Carlos and a dude called El Cabezo. El Cabezo is played by Primo Carnera, former Italian boxing champion. But the film appeals mainly for the face, that devastating diva-face of Doris Durante. She is a true icon of the Italian cinema, and whenever she is on screen, you cannot take your eyes off her. Some institution should launch a major retrospective of all her work, especially in America, where she is sadly unknown.
- Nov 22, 2002
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