Duel of the Titans / Romolo e Remo (1961)

5.0 out of 5

This spectacular adventure movie is one of the signature examples of the Sword and Sandal genre. The film is notable for bringing together the two towering titans of the genre, Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott. Both men had healthy careers that mirrored one another, but Scott was easily the better actor, far surpassing Reeves in intensity. While he has the meatier role between them, Scott effortlessly usurps the film away from Reeves. It's also worth mentioning the sheer amount of talent behind the scenes. Aside from being Corbucci's debut, Sergio Leone, Duccio Tessari and Luciano Martino worked on the script while Enzo Barboni handled photographic duties.

Two babies, abandoned at birth, are nurtured by a wolf and later recovered by a shepherd. The two brothers grow up to lead a band of thieves against two cruel Sabine kings. One of the rulers pursues the two men for revenge and also to retrieve his daughter who has joined their band. The two brothers, one focused and passive, the other quick tempered and unrestrained, are destined to establish the city of Rome, but power and greed threatens to crush the bond between the two brothers.

While Reeves will forever be known as the god of the Torch and Toga genre, Gordon Scott had better credentials. His intimidating looks and penchant for doing dangerous stunts showed a good deal of veracity that was missing from the rest of his colleagues, including the indomitable Steve Reeves. In all of his films, Scott brought an energy that was missing from so many other similar movies. Furthermore, both actors acquit themselves admirably here and there's just as much beauty onscreen as beef and brawn. The script is unusually well mounted with the two main leads displaying a great deal of pathos and depth. Everything about the film reeks of professionalism and Corbucci, who apparently admired Scott's cheery disposition a good deal more, would work with Reeves again the following year in Son of Spartacus, another exceptionally well made motion picture.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics