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  • The picture deals with Cesar Borgia (Cameron Mitchell ) confronting Catalina Sforza who organizes a scheme called the ¨red flower¨ to kill him . Cesar Borgia , who is having problems with his mistress , is being helped by his underlings (Conrado San Martin and Franco Fantasia) and his sister Lucrecia (Maria Gracia Spina) who makes his purports marrying herself with relentless enemies . Borgia wishes the Italy unifying and will battle a lot of contenders (Fernando the Catholic and Gonzalo of Cordoba) to vanquish them . Meanwhile , a secret society called The Black Carnation are out to kill him .

    The film is based on indirect way upon true events , thus , Cesar Borgia (1475-1407) along with Lucrecia (famous as poisoned woman and duchess of Ferrara) were sons of Pope Borgia (Alexander VI) . Cesar was a cardinal in the Catholic church , a member of one of the most wealthiest families in 16th-century and a confidant of the Pope . He'll try to create a kingdom into Italy center , fighting the powerful landowners and must deal with a host of political and personal crises . He was even admired by Nicholas Machiavelo , inspiring the ¨Prince¨ book . Cameron Mitchell gives a magnificent acting as the impulsive and astute duke . Conrado San Martin is fine as his assistant and adviser . As support cast , it appears Franco Fantasia , he's a habitual secondary in numerous Italians productions , Spaghetti Western , Costumers , Swords and Sandals , he was a master of arms who trained several actors in fencing scenes . The classic film about the Cesar Borgia personage results to be ¨The prince of foxes¨ with Tyrone Power and an excellent Orson Welles . The film was regularly directed by Pino Mercanti . Rating : Average but entertaining .
  • Lively Spanish swashbuckler, benefiting from an unusual Cameron Mitchell performance in that this time the actor (unrecognisable in dark hair and a beard) plays a kind-of romantic lead for a change! Yet he easily passes for a man ten years younger than himself (he was in his early 40s when this was made) and his athleticism in the action sequences is more than adequate for the production. My only gripe here is that there's far too much dialogue in comparison to the amount of action we get - sure, the film never drags and the pacing is good, but there are only two or three fights aside from the excellent swashbuckling finale and there should have been much more instead. More confrontation, more testosterone, but instead all we get is a number of romantic sub-plots and people spying on each other in secret passages.

    Technically, the film is a delight, with vivid colours bringing the screen to life and sets and costumes which, as well as being authentic, are also very pleasing on the eye for the viewer. The aforementioned Mitchell gives a sincere and solid performance in the leading role which holds the film together and the supporting cast are adequate, if unremarkable. The film is complimented by an effective score and good Spanish locations, although originally it was an Italian funded movie. This is old-fashioned fun which recalls the swashbucklers being made by Hollywood in the '30s and '40s, but a little more swash and a little less buckle wouldn't have gone amiss at all.
  • This review is of an old US television print entitled CAESAR BORGIA. This is a beautifully shot, well-written, and well-acted Italian historical biography of the legendary Caesar Borgia, a man who lived a short but eventful life, is said to have been one of the inspirations for Machiavelli's The Prince, and fought to unify Italy. Widely admired and widely disliked, Borgia is not an easy person to put a simple label on, and this excellent film presents him as a three-dimensional character, fascinating and complex. He utilizes power effectively and is a fierce warrior, but his enemies often show themselves to be motivated by selfish and cynical reasons. Cameron Mitchell, who is fortunately allowed to voice his own dialogue (which he does not in the English language versions of films such as Erik The Conqueror or Blood and Black Lace), turns in one of his best performances (and his is a career full of fine performances) as the Black Duke. The script requires a number of speeches, and the stage-trained Mr. Mitchell delivers each one as if performing a Shakespearean soliloquy. Borgia may be ruthless, but his humanity is well-captured by Mitchell, and his realization that he has few true friends leads the viewer to empathize with him. The film is well-paced, the various subplots (a secret society called The Black Carnation is out to assassinate Borgia; his sister Lucretia Borgia has a complex relationship with her brother and is a complex character herself;Borgia's romantic entanglements)well-integrated into the main story. Also, action fans will enjoy the many exciting fencing sequences. Director Pino Mercanti's film directly prior to this one was KNIGHT OF 100 FACES with Lex Barker, and after this he helmed GENTLEMEN OF THE NIGHT with Guy Madison, but THE BLACK DUKE/CAESAR BORGIA may well be his masterpiece. The film holds up very well today and should be revived today and given a DVD reissue. My copy was taped off a UHF TV station in the late 1980s. By the way, the ending of the film came as quite a surprise to me. Obviously, I know the "end" of the real historical character, but where the filmmakers chose to end the film and the "spin" they put on the character and that particular ending were quite powerful-- in fact, the ending helps to put the film in a special class beyond mere genre film. It's rare to get a three-dimensional view of a historical character in any film--to get one in an Italian costume drama is not often expected. Try to find this film if you can.