Kendra Steiner Editions

November 9, 2016

Cameron Mitchell as Cesar Borgia in IL DUCA NERO, aka The Black Duke (Italy 1963)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:41 pm

CAMERON MITCHELL as Cesar Borgia in

IL DUCO NERO (aka The Black Duke, aka Cesare Borgia)

Italy 1963, directed by Pino Mercanti

il-duca-nero

Another masterful performance by the great Cameron Mitchell,  as Cesar Borgia

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. (note: review originally published in 2003)

il-duca_nero_cep4581

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: