Hero of Rome (1964)




Director:     Giorgio Ferroni.

Starring:      Gordon Scott (Mucius), Gabriella Pallotta (Clelia), Massimo Serato (Tarquin), Gabriele Antonini (Arunte), Maria Pia Conte (Valeria), Roldano Lupi (Porsenna), Philippe Hersent (Publicola), Franco Fantasia (Claudius), Bernard Farber (Milone).

the exile Tarquin, the last tyrant of Rome, 509 BC, tries to get back in power


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

The Romans are under siege from the Etruscans.  The people of Rome ask where are their allies, the Sabines and Albans?  An they complain of the shortage of bread in Rome.  The brave soldier Mucius tells the peopole that grain is on its way to Rome.  He asks an officer to send some men out to help insure that the supply wagons get through the siege lines. 

The supply wagons are only one-half mile from Rome.  The officer in charge tells his men that this is the most dangerous stretch of the entire trip.  He is wary of a possible Etruscan ambush.  And sure enough, the Etruscans launch at ambush.  The Roman officer tells one of his men to send up the alarm.  The archer lights an arrow and shoots it high into the air. 

Again Mucius demands that they go out and help the supply train.  The officer in charge says he can't send men out.  His orders are that no soldiers will go out of the fortress.  Mucius suddenly jumps down from the wall onto the ground outside the fortress.  He is going to help the supply wagons by himself.  Valeria, the daughter of leader Publicola, and Clelia come up to check on things.  The officer tells Clelia that Mucius went by himself to help the supply train.  This makes Clelia very worried about what might happen to her beloved Mucius. 

Mucius is the best fighter the Romans have and he kills a lot of Etruscans.  He even picks up huge logs all by himself and moves them off the road.  Now the supply wagond can get through and head to the fortress.  When the last of the Etruscan group comes after them again, Mucius picks up a huge log and throws it on top of the enemy soldiers. 

Back home Mucius is greeted as a hero by the public.  He hugs Clelia.  The citizens start to grab the grain sacks, but the Roman soldiers stop them.  The leader Publicola comes out and tells the people that the grain will be distributed equally and fairly.  Mucius tells Clelia  that he will go alone and kill the king of the Etruscans.  Again Clelia is afraid for him.  Mucius says:  "Rome must be saved!"

Mucius sneaks over to the Etruscan camp.  He knocks out two guards.  He then putson an Etruscan helmet and wears the blue cape of the Etruscans.  He goes to the king's tent.  He kills the two guards there and then goes into the tent.  He then kills the king.  Mucius, however, did not kill the king, but rather a mere lieutenant.  Soldiers surround him and the real king, Porsenna, explains what Mucius failed to do.  The king's son Arunte decides to use torture to get key information out of Mucius.  Mucius marches over to the flame where Arunte is heating his sword blade and sticks his hand in the fire to show that torturing him will do no good.  Mucius really gets a bad burn and a doctor bandages it up for him.  Mucius tells the king that he must get rid of the former Roman tyrant Tarquin. There never will be peace until the tyrant is gone. 

Tarquin talks with Arunte in private.  Arunte explains that his father is talking about a truce with Mucius.  This is the last thing Tarquin wants.  He wants to take Rome and restore himself to the position of despot.  Tarquin is very angry at the king. 

The king tells Mucius that if he could trust him, he could lift the siege of Rome and recognize the Republic of Rome.  Mucius is so impressed with the king that he tells him that he feels bad about having tried to kill him.  Their conversation is interrupted by Tarquin who wastes no time in insulting Mucius and then insulting the king.  Porsenna says that Tarquin has been lying all along to him.  Tarquin told him that the Romans were desperate for his return, which is just not true. 

Tarquin talks about Mucius being in love with a woman name Clelia  -- a woman who had received his affections before.  Mucius really gets angry at this.   The king says that now he will separate himself from Tarquin and make his own decisions.  And he tells his son that he wants him to go with Mucius to discuss a truce and peace negotiations with the Romans.  Tarquin wants to influence what Arunte is going to say to the Romans.  He gets him alone and tells him to be sure and ask for 10 female hostages and to make sure one of them is Clelia.  The hostages will be their guarantee that the Romans keep the truce.  He also tells Arunte to take his man Claudius with him.  Arunte agrees.  (In private, Tarquin then tells Claudius that once in Rome he should speak with the rebel leader Horatius and tell him that the moment to strike at Rome has come.)

Mucius and Arunte get a big reception in Rome.  Mucius goes to speak with Clelia.  Meanwhile, Claudius tells Horatius his message.  Horatius then tells his friends that they will all meet tonight at his place. 

The Roman senate decides to accept the truce, but will discuss the peace treaty sometime in the future.  Then Arunte brings up the demand for hostages.  A lot of the senators are very insulted by this demand.  But Publicola takes a vote and the idea is approved.  Arunte promises the senators that they will treat their daughters very well and they will be returned when peace treaty negotiations start.  But when Mucius learns that hostages are being taken by the Etruscans and Clelia is one of them, he is furious. 

King Porsenna is shocked that Arunte asked for hostages.  He says the idea itself is dishonorable.  He puts Arunte in charge of the welfare of the women.  Arunte takes the women into a large tent.  Tarquin, however, quickly shows up to start harassing Clelia.  Arune has to intervene to save Clelia.  Tarquin laughs about it and leaves.  Valeria thanks Arunte for protecting Clelia from Tarquin.  She seems to like Arunte very much. 

After dinner Arunte takes a walk with Valeria and Clelia.  Clelia separates herself a short ways away from the potential lovers, Arunte and Valeria.  She hears some people talking and goes to check it out.  It turns out to be a meeting of Tarquin and his captains.  She learns that Tarquin and his men will strike soon.  While she is away, Valeria notices that Clelia has just disappeared.  She and Arunte go to find her.  The meeting breaks up and the captains go their different ways.  Claudius discovers Clelia and he brings her over to Tarquin.  Tarquin grabs her, but not for long, as Arunte and Valeria arrive.

Clelia says they have to get back to the camp quickly because Tarquin told his men to go get some of the women.  So they hurry back to the women's tent and chase Tarquin's captains out of there.  After Arunte leaves, Clelia tells the other women:  "We have to get out of here."  She adds that Tarquin is ready to start the war all over again.  She also says that the captains only obey the orders of Tarquin.  And, furthermore, Tarquin wants to kill Valeria's father.

At night in the fortress the rebels strike, killing soldiers in patrols.  They try to kill Mucius, but he gets away from them.  They come after him and he kills several of them.  He and others are saved by the arrival of soldiers who surround the plotters.

While Etruscan soldiers just sit around resting, the women hostages manage to push a huge log into the river.  They grab onto it and float downstream.   Tarquin arrives and orders the soldiers to fire arrows at the women.  Valeria goes under the water.  She can't swim.  Clelia saves her.  They get away. 

The Senate is mad because Publicola has told them that they must restore the hostages to the Etruscans ot there never will be peace.  The senates walks out, so Publicola decides just to send Valeria and Clelia back to the Etruscans.  Mucius and a soldier escort will take the women back and Mucius will tell the king of the Etruscans about the plot against him. 

The co-conspirator Horatius arrives to tell Tarquin that the plot in Rome failed.  The others are either dead or are prisoners, but Valeria and Clelia are coming back as hostages.  This makes Tarquin happy. 

Arunte tells his father that Tarquin has left the camp with 20 archers.  The king sends his son after Tarquin with orders to arrest him. 

Marcius and the escort come by the place Tarquin has set up for an ambush.  Tarquin has his archers fire their arrows first and they yells for them to attack.  Marcius sends one man back to get help.  And he tells Valeria and Clelia to run and save themselves.  Tarquin sees the women running away and he and Claudius go after them.  Tarquin grabs Clelia, but Valeria starts running away. Tarquin gives the order and Claudius throws his knife into Valeria's back. 

Marcius and his soldier defeat the archers.  He finds Valeria, but she soon dies. Clelia calls out to Macius for help.  Marcius starts fighting Tarquin.  Marcius does not do well because he can only use his left hand to hold his sword.  Tarquin keeps pushing him back until he pushes Marcius off a tall cliff.  Arunte and his men arrive and Tarquin has to run for it.  Later, Arunte finds Valeria dead.  He is very upset and says:  "I came too late!"  One of the soldiers tells Arunte that it was Tarquin who had her killed.

Arunte returns to his father's tent only to find that Tarquin has taken over.  He shouts at the soldiers:  "You traitors!  Cowards!"  Tarquin says:  "The men want victory and they shall have it." 

Publicola and his men meet the soldiers carrying the dead body of Valeria.  Dad says:  "The truce is dead.  It's war." 

Marcius survives his fall from the cliff.  He makes it back home and walks into the senate.  He hears some senators urging surrender.  Marcius roars:  "If Tarquin enters Rome, not one life will be spared.  Better to die than live under tyranny."

Tarquin plans his strategy to defeat Rome and its allies. He brags:  "We will destroy the Roman army once and for all."

Publicola advises immediate action. He names Marcius as the supreme commander.

A doctors tell Marcius that his hand is healing.  Having escaped from Tarquin and his men, Arunte arrives to talk with Marcius. Publicola tells Marcius about Marcius being appointed the supreme commander. Marcius says he's now useless as a soldier because of his bad right hand.  But Arunte says that he can train Marcius to use his left hand with which to fight.  Marcius doesn't believe it's possible but Arunte is so enthusiastic that he goes along with the young fellow's plan.  With continued practice, Marcius' left hand becomes almost as good as his right one was.  The men keep practicing until Marcius can defeat anyone who practices with him. 

Marcius decides to attack immediately and take Tarquin's men by surprise.  He says Arunte will talk to the Etruscans and convince them to come over to the side of the Romans.  Marcius says they will start marching this very night. 

Most of the Etruscan soldiers are watching wrestling matches.  Arunte goes to the Etruscan camp where there are relatively few soldiers.  He starts talking with the soldiers.  Publicola comes up with his army. 

The Etruscan priest gives Clelia to Tarquin in gratitude.  Tarquin tells Clelia to give him her hand. She comes to him, but she grabs his dagger and threatens to kill herself.  Marcius and his troops arrive at the Etruscan camp and the fight starts. 

The Sabines and the Albans along with the Romans attack the Etruscan soldiers in the field.  The field is soon covered with men fighting each other.  Marcius and his men defeat the Etruscans at the camp and now go to help Publicola.  As usual, Marcius kills quite a few of the enemy.  An Etruscan officer jumps on his horse and rides to Tarquin to tell him that their soldiers are done for.  He urges Tarquin to flee while there is still time.  Marcius and his soldiers arrive before Tarquin can leave.  The Roman soldier challenges Tarquin to a duel between them.  Tarquin tells Claudius to kill Clelia if there are any tricks.  In the duel Marcius kills Tarquin and Arunte then kills Claudius.

Marcius and Clelia are together again.  And Rome is saved. 


Hey, it's a B movie.  How much can you expect?.  The picture quality was poor, but watchable.  The story was okay; nothing special but not too bad either.  And the film did give me a chance to look up the early beginnings of the Roman empire.  So I reviewed some things and learned some others.  So I thought it was worth it. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:


753-509  --  rule of the Seven Kings of Rome. 

753 BC  --  according to legend, Romulus founds Rome.

              --  43 year reign of Numa Pompilius.

              --  31 year reign of Tullus Hostilius.

              --  25 year reign of Ancus Marcius.

After 650 – the Etruscans, who settled north of Rome in Etruria, come to dominate Italy and expand into north-central Italy.

              --  38 year reign of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.

579        – assassination of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus by the sons of the previous king Ancus Marcius.

               --  44 year reign of Servius Tullius.

534         --  Tulia, the wife of Tarquin’s brother Aruns Tarquinius, plots with Tarquin to usurp the throne. They kill Arun  and King Servius Tullius. Tarquin then summons the Senate and there Tullia proclaims Tarquin the new king. Tarquin executes the leading senators who he thinks support the old king.

535        --  start of the25 year reign of Lucius Tarquinius, the 7th King of Rome. He became a despot.  He wars against Latins and Etruscans. Rome becomes the head of the Latin confederacy.  Tarquinius wars against the Volscians.  His son Sextus Tarquinius' attempted rape of Lucretia leads to an eventual revolt. Lucretia's kinsman and her widowed husband lead the revolt.

509        --  the revolt ends the reign of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. End of Etruscan influence in Rome. 

509        --   start of the Roman Republic.   

Tarquin tries to get back in power in Rome. The powerful Etruscan lord Lars Porsenna of Clusium (modern Chiusi) backs Tarquin's attempts to regain power. But all of Tarquins’s attempt to get back to power in Rome fail. He loses his two older sons, Titus Tarquinius and Aruns Tarquinius, in his attempts to regain the throne.

496  --  Tarquin dies in exile at Cumae, Campania.



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