La Regina di Saba (Queen of Sheba) (1952)




Director:  Pietro Francisci. 

Starring:  Leonora Ruffo (Balkis, Queen of Sheba), Gino Cervi (King Solomon of Jerusalem), Gino Leurini (Prince Rehoboam of Jerusalem), Marina Berti (Zamira, betrothed of Rehoboam),  Franco Silva (Kabaal, commander of the Sheban army), Mario Ferrari (Chaldis, High Priest of Sheba), Isa Pola (Tabuia, leader of the handmaidens), Nyta Dover (Kinor, a handmaiden), Umberto Silvestri (Isachar, companion of Rehoboam), Dorian Gray (Abner, an envoy from Gad), Franca Tamantini (The False Mother), Fulvia Mammi (The True Mother).

Italian black & white that should have been called Rehoboam and Sheba 


Just an o.k. movie.  The great historical legend was about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.  But, apparently, that did not suit the writers of this movie.  They wanted a younger suitor for the supposed most beautiful woman in the world.  So they made a movie that should have been called Rehoboam (Solomon's son) and the Queen of Sheba. 

Prince Rehoboam has captured two foreigners from Gad who were carrying an safe passage guarantee to the nation of Sheba.  From the prisoners, the Israelites find out that Sheba is preparing an offensive that may include Assyria and Israel.  They hope to become allies with Edom, Gad, Moab and Aram. 

Rehoboam and his companion Isachar pretend to be the two foreign messengers and ride to the kingdom of Sheba.  As they approach Sheba, the meet Princess Balkis (Leonora Ruffo) and her maidservant at their secret oasis.  The Prince and the Princess talk a liking to each other, although neither knows the other's true identity.  The couple parts company only to meet again outside the palace as the two "messengers" are intercepted by Sheban soldiers.  Prince Rehoboam compets in the race of the th5ree targets and wins, thereby guaranteeing his safety in the paranoid country of Sheba.

Then, suddenly, Balkis learns that her father has died.  She is crowned Queen of Sheba.  And, wouldn't you know it, just when she was taking a real liking to Rehoboam, the Sheban high priest declares that she is wed to the god Shamaz (the god of the sun) and may take no other husband than him. 

This does not suit Rehoboam and he pursues the new Queen despite the ban against her marrying.  And, wouldn't you know it again, just as Rehoboam is making real progress, the two true messengers show up in Sheba, thereby unmasking our two pretenders.  The new Queen learns of this and concludes that Rehoboam had tricked her.  There is an old saying that there is no wrath like that of a woman scorned and the Queen follows that saying by sentencing Rehoboam and his partner to death and declaring war against Jerusalem. 

Thinks look bad for the two love birds, real bad.  But, it ain't over till the fat lady sings.  So the question is, can love still prevail in this bleak situation of war? 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

Historical Background:


See Solomon and Sheba (1959).


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