Fabiola (1949)

  |  Drama, History

Fabiola (1949) Poster

In ancient Rome a love story blossoms between Fabiola, daughter of a senator, and Rhual, a gallic gladiator. When Fabiola's father is killed, the Romans blame the Christians and the ... See full summary »


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13 November 2003 | gregcouture
The U.S. dubbed is FAR from fabulous!
The U.S. version of this Italian-made spectacle (with three famous French actors in the leads!) had well over an hour trimmed from its two-and-one-half-hour plus length and the inevitable result is one of the most confusing mish-mashes imaginable. I defy anyone to make sense of it, especially as the final sequences unreel.

Of course the dubbing is atrocious and the sound effects and music score suffer terrible desecration as well. It was quite lavishly produced (in black-and-white, alas!) and the costumes, by Veniero Colasanti, especially, are exceptionally well done. (His very professional work was featured in a trio of Samuel Bronston-produced epics some years later, "El Cid," "55 Days at Peking," and "The Fall of the Roman Empire.") Over a dozen writers, credited and uncredited, had a hand in preparing a screenplay from Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman's monumental novel, and character motivations and dialogue, at least in the dubbed version, are something to ignore as the spectacle unfolds.

The cool blonde beauty of Michele Morgan, in the title role, is put to good use, though she seems quite wooden, something that is usually said about a male hero in films of this type. Henri Vidal, as Rhual, is, in contrast, quite animated and acquits himself as well as can be expected amid the impossible machinations of the scenarists.

A purveyor of off-beat and hard-to-find titles has this title available, culled from a less-than-perfect (to say the least) 16 mm print but it's worth a look if your taste runs to sword-and-sandal stuff set in ancient Rome with Christians in peril and Roman mobs lusting for their gruesome extermination.

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