By the Gods!

Belinda Lee and Spiros Focás in MESSALINA (1960)

A sorta quirky historical retelling of the life and time of Empress Messalina, played by Belinda Lee. Directed by the experimental Vittorio Cottafavi, this film wavers between the super serious and  slapstick. I love the super serious parts. The slapstick stuff seems incongruous with the rest and the subject itself. Even though Messalina is portrayed as a conniving bad woman, Cottafavi also tried to humanize her, such as this love story with Spiros Focás. Does this attempt works? It does. Probably Lee's greatest role, who died at the age of 25.

2 comments:

Scott Ochiltree said...

THE AFFAIRS OF MESSALINA (1951) is by far the best Peplum on this subject in my view.

It is played as a serious drama, which is always my preferred approach. Female lead Maria Felix does a terrific job as Messalina.

The dance sequence where the human statues (slaves) come to life is extraordinary.

Anonymous said...

For me, Belinda Lee is the definitive screen Messalina. The movie is an odd mix and the Christian persecution stuff should have been left out, but as a whole it is very good. The German DVD thankfully has an English language track and is excellent quality.