“La Venere dei pirati” (1960)
There is a great deal of bluster but very little genuine swashbuckling in Mario Costa’s “La Venere dei pirati” (aka, “Queen of the Pirates”), which seems to trade on the attractiveness of its star Gianna Maria Canale to distract from the fact that she is neither particularly proficient at swordplay, nor of the general physicality required to be the mistress of (rather than on) a pirate ship. She does, however, in the grand tradition of the postwar Italian film actresses, fill out her costumes to great curvaceous effect, which comes in handy when the film makes the inevitable slide from adventure into the less strenuous but equally active arena of high seas necking. (Though the film does commit a fatal tactical error in that no matter how comely Miss Canale, she is outclassed in beauty by Scilla Gabel and earthy sexuality by Moira Orfei.)
The cardboard settings and not-quite-clever-enough-cutting meant to deflect attention from some injurious budgetary shortcomings which assist in grounding the film in an unfortunate matinee movie purgatory, where the predictability of the material corresponds with a certain lethargy of forward action, when it becomes all too apparent that the film makers are laboriously marking time in keeping the adversarial parties separated until the inevitable climactic meeting of steel, brawn and a few carefully chosen vocal barbs. The film promises excitement but never delivers; even comprised as it is with an impressively varied quantity of genre clichés, Costa is too busy in the introduction of every possible genre trope to develop a single one of them beyond a fleeting drive by wave of recognition, so the narrative jerks along episodically, without ever treating any of the sequences as if they were truly organic to the plot.
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