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Il Vecchio Testamento

The Old Testament
Der Kampf der Makkabäer

Italy/France 1962
produced by
Cinematografica Associati, Comptoir Francais du Film
directed by Gianfranco Parolini
starring Brad Harris, John Heston (= Ivano Staccioli), Margaret Taylor, Mara Lane, Philippe Hersent, Carlo Tamberlani, Jacques Berthier, Djordje Nenadovic, Ivy Stewart, Enzo Todia, Ignazio Dolce, Isarco Ravaioli, Vladimir Leib, Niksa Stefanini, Giuseppe Mattei, Ray Martino (= Arnaldo Martelli), Vladimir Bacic, Sava Severova, Irena Prosen, Susan Paget, Alan Steel (= Sergio Ciani), Fulvia Gasser, Rino Mattioli
story by Ghigo De Chiara, Luciano Martino, Giorgio Prosperi, screenplay by Gianfranco Parolini, Giovanni Simonelli, music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, special effects by Roberto Morelli

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jerusalem, circa 150 BC: The Syrians led by Appolonio (Jacques Berthier) are threatening to take over the city, and while Jude (John Heston), son of the high priest (Carlo Tamberlani), wants to fight, his brother Simon (Brad Harris) suggests a peaceful solution - but Simon is not exactly popular with the Hebrews since he counts Syrians, first and foremost poet-turned-soldier Antenone (Vladimir Leib) among his friends. Ultimately, Jude wins the argument, and he and his men succeed in fighting back the Syrians, but once the battle is won, Jude has to realize the war is lost, so he and his army and most of the Hebrews just leave the city to regather and prepare for a later attack.

Simon stays behind in Jerusalem when the Syrians finally take the city, and thinks he can make peace with Appolonio - but is gravely wounded and survives only thanks to the courageous Syrian noblewoman Diotina (Mara Lane), who nurses him back to health and facilitates his escape from Jerusalem.

Simon soon catches up with the Hebrews and is eventually joined by Diotina there, who prefers being a prisoner with the Hebrews but near to Simon to being a free woman and respected in Jerusalem.

It doesn't take long for Simon and Jude to reconciliate, and when Jude dies in battle, he pronounces Simon the new leader of his people - but Simon turns down the responsibility in favour of his young brother Jonathan (Enzo Doria). Jonathan though dies in an ambush, when the Hebrews try to take the city Joppe - Appolonio's main port of supply - by peaceful means ... which forces Simon to become the leader of the Hebrews after all and lead his people into battle, at first to take Joppe. Later, the Hebrews, now in league with the Arabs, use Diotina as bait to get into Jerusalem - and finally succeed in defeating the Syrians.

During that battle, Simon goes one-on-one with Appolonio - but is spared having to kill him when one of his archers shoots Appolonio after he tried to make an unfair move.

With the city back in Hebrew possession, Simon shows himself magnanimous and sets all prisoners of war free to ensure lasting peace with the Syrians ...

 


The Old Testament is way too grand a title for a film that concentrates on only one of the lesser known episodes of the bible - but that doesn't automatically make the movie in question a bad one, does it?

Actually, The Old Testament is a rather average epic movie, its budget does live up to the demands of the story (not always the case with Italian epic movies), so sets, props and costumes are convincing enough, there are enough battle scenes to keep one entertained, and the ensemble, while by no means great, is at least adequate. On the downside though, the film's 110 minute running time is way too long to keep up interest, it lacks the greatness of a truly good epic movie, but also the naive charm of a truly bad one, its battle scenes are nothing special and in all the film lacks the weird setpieces that have made many (much cheaper) Italian sword-and-sandal epics (or peplums, if you may) so great in their own way.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
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special appearances by
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directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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