Foreign Review: Attila

Attila could be the worst movie that the late Anthony Quinn ever starred in.

Quinn stars as the world’s second most famous barbarian who also tried to takedown the Roman Empire. The story focuses on Attila sitting outside the border of Italy waiting to pounce but his diplomatic brother, Bleda, would rather negotiate a treaty than kill Romans. Atilla will have none of that so he has his brother killed.

Meanwhile idiotic and cowardly Roman emperor, Valentinian III, panics about what to do about the barbarian. His smarter more cunning sister Honoria (Sophia Loren) offers herself up as a bride to Attila if he will spare her brother and Rome.

The movie has one of the worst scripts I have ever seen with this kind of rich tapestry for a story.

Attila was wild, crazy, debonaire, relentless and brave. Quinn gives the barbarian a bravado like John Wayne gave many of his western heroes but without the scruples. The performance is credible to all the over-acting and silliness from his supporting players. Some of the performances reminded me of “mimes on speed.” Except these mimes shovel the garbage that is this script.
When the film switches from the regal halls of Rome to Attila’s HQ, it almost feels like you accidentally sat on a remote and changed channels. At Attila’s HQ, the setting and silly dialogue make it feel like it was ripped right out of a 70s kung-fu movie.

Then in Rome, a 70s porno without, well, the porn. It is an interesting contrast but felt wrong.

The wardrobe on this film tried to be epic but I found the spandex very distracting, especially the spandex behind Attila’s huge codpiece. Then there was the makeup. How come the Huns look like Mongols? Did Huns look like Mongols? It’s just bizarre.

The seduction scene where Loren goes to Quinn is the best scene of the film. Loren is looking her best and the seduction is very Samson and Delilah-esque. Loren looks ravishing in a revealing white gown as Quinn’s barbarian is caught off guard and speechless. Loren’s gown in that scene is the best of the film, hands down.

The scene ends with the hysterical line, “How I have longed for your lips!” Why this is so funny is that he just slobber kissed her with his mouth still half full of food. His cheeks look like a gopher. It’s these kinds of silly things that make this film rich for parody. Or think about it, is this already a parody?

The film never really reaches the tone it needs to be. They wanted it to be epic, historic, sexy and starring two giant stars. What they got was an 80-minute movie, with super silly dialogue and over-blown performances.

If you want to laugh at the film, I give it four stars. But the film wants to be taken seriously.

1.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

Side note: You can find this film on the Sophia Loren DVD collection from Lionsgate. The best film of collection is Sunflower, watch for that review on future edition of Foreign Fridays.

2 thoughts on “Foreign Review: Attila

  1. saw this movie in late 50s,thought it was a good epic,loren played her part as an ambitious bitch perfectly.the final battle scene when she is killed got a lot of applause because she was so evil, the connotatipon of that scene was that she was raped by the soldier who cut her up with that gladius sword, she looked so sexy and deserving, very bloody movie for that time…..

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