Marco Polo (1962)

  • Year: 1962
  • Released: 01 Aug 1962
  • Country: Italy, France
  • Adwords: N/A
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  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Italian
  • MPA Rating: N/A
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Runtime: 95 min
  • Writer: Piero Pierotti, Oreste Biancoli, Duccio Tessari
  • Director: Hugo Fregonese, Richard McNamara, Piero Pierotti
  • Cast: Rory Calhoun, Yôko Tani, Robert Hundar
  • Keywords:
43% – Critics
43% – Audience

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Marco Polo Movie Reviews

MARCO POLO (Hugo Fregonese and Piero Pierotti, 1961) **

Colorful but lackluster peplum version (a measure of its clumsiness is the fact that a sarcastic narrator is heard intermittently during the film’s initial stages, but after a while he’s all but forgotten!), in which a good deal of the detail is identical to the equally fictitious 1938 film: Marco Polo falls for Kublai Khan’s daughter, Khan’s evil lieutenant – played to the hilt by Robert Hundar – is planning to usurp the throne and marry the princess himself, our hero befriends a band of rebels and leads them – in explosive fashion – into the city, etc. Still, it’s not hard to see how Rory Calhoun here is even less suited to the requirements of the role, though he’s even more of a ladies’ man than Gary Cooper!

In itself, the film is harmless enough but since an even more elaborate (if no more successful) version – the star-studded MARCO THE MAGNIFICENT (1965) – was just behind the corner, this one feels quite redundant; that said, its vast Chinese settings were re-used later for Riccardo Freda’s silly hybrid SAMSON AND THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (1961)!

Not bad, not great

MARCO POLO is a peplum stab at the famous story, and very much of its type for the era. I found it mildly charming although it pales in comparison to the better films of its kind, including the one that followed this and borrowed the locations, SAMSON AND THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD. Rory Calhoun plays his Marco as a lecherous womaniser, dawdling around from one adventure to the next, getting involved with a kindly Kublai Khan and a bald-headed advisor and big bad. There are Bond-style torture devices, some firework spectacle, romance with the gorgeous Yoko Tani, and a nice sidekick. Not a huge amount of action, but they make up for this with some impressive visuals throughout, notably an excellent panoramic shot at the very end.

Passable version about legendary character Marco Polo though based on hokey historical events

Lavish Italian entertainment based on the exploits of the 13th-century famed Venetian explorer who rescues the daughter of the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, meets a hermit who has invented gunpowder and builds a cannon . Rory Calhoun plays the role of Marco , a venetian philander adventurer , in this Ravioli production of Marco Polo’s adventures . Young Marco travels to China to help Kublai Khan fight against rebels, headed by his own assistant , with a new invention : gunpowder . Entertaining motion picture about oriental and medieval feats in superb colour cinematography and luxurious scenarios . Acceptable budget Italian production deals with Marco Polo travels from Venice to China , where he falls in love with the Emperor’s daughter . Marco (sympathetic Rory Calhoun) becomes the first traveler to record his visit to the Eastern court of the Emperor Kublai Khan . Once there he possesses his protection to merchandise between China and Europe but he prefers to seek out for more adventures . There Marco falls for gorgeous Princess Amurroy (Yoko Tani) . Grand Khan (Camillo Pilotto) is a kindly emperor , but his villain aide Mongka (Robert Hundar) wants to get rid of Khan so he can be emperor, and to get rid of Marco Polo so he can marry the princess . Then Khan sends Marco Polo to the West to fight rebels led by a chief called Kudai (Pierre Cressoy), Khan’s niece , but he goes back just in time to save the day . The Italian explorer rescues the daughter of the emperor Khan from nasty Prime Minister , and meets a wise man who has invented gunpowder . During his adventures Polo is imprisoned and will suffer numerous dangers , adventures and risks ; besides he’ll quickly encounter many Chinese invents as silk ¡ spaghetti! , postmen , and gunpowder , among others .

It’s a spectacular adventure and plenty of emotions , Chinese dances , action , romance and evocative musical score from Angelo Francesco Lavagnino and Les Baxter (US version) . The picture blends far eastern adventures and medieval scenario . The movie results to be an inferior remake to classic Hollywood film ‘Adventures of Marco Polo’ starred by Gary Cooper and including a villain performed by Basil Rathbone who bears remarkable resemblance to Robert Hundar . This is one of the most bemusing Italian oriental adventure movies ever made , being well produced , lush production design and shot in awesome brilliant photography Riccardo Pallottini . This juvenile romp is utterly amusing and entertaining though inexactly based on facts . Don’t expect historic accuracy from this typical Spaghetti product full of adventures , a love story and lots of action . The producers ,Luigi Carpentieri and Ermanno Donati were more concerned with offering moving and enjoyable amusement than factual information . With the huge exterior sets, lavish interior sets and a multitude of Asian extras left over from this flick , the producers realized a sword-and-sandal/mythological muscleman epic, ¨Maciste in the court of Grand Khan¨ played by Gordon Scott and also Yoko Tani , placing hero Maciste in a Chinese setting . The motion picture was middlingly directed by Piero Pierotti and Hugo Fregonese . The film was received poorly at the box-office, becoming a moderated flop . The flick will appeal to far eastern saga fanciful and adventure enthusiasts.

Other pictures based on this legendary character are the followings : Classic version ¨Adventures of Marco Polo¨ by Archie Mayo with Gary Cooper , Alan Hale and Basil Rathbone ; “Marco the Magnificent” by Raoul Levy and Denys de La Patellière with Horst Buchhold, Anthony Quinn , Elsa Martinelli , Akin Tamiroff and Omar Sharif ; ¨Marco¨ (1973) by Seymour Robbie with Desi Aznar Jr , Zero Mostel ;¨The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo on His Journeys to the Ends of the Earth¨ (1998) with Don Diamant , Jack Palance and Oliver Reed ; and ¨Marco Polo¨ (2007) by Kevin Connor with Ian Somerhalder , BD Wong and Brian Dennehy . The best results to be ¨Marco Polo¨ TV (1982) by Giuliano Montalvo with Ken Marshall , David Warner , F Murray Abraham , Leonard Nimoy .