THOR AND THE AMAZON WOMEN (1963)
aka Le gladiatrici
Article 4922 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Antonio Leonviola
Featuring Susy Andersen, Joe Robinson, Harry Baird
Country: Italy / Yugoslavia
What it is: Sword and Sandal
Musclemen Thor takes on the Amazons and their evil queen.
There’s a conceptual problem at work in this movie. Consider these two facts: 1) Thor’s enemies are the Amazon warriors, and 2) Thor is too much of a gentleman to fight women. I’m sure you see the central problem here. Maybe that’s why Thor is used so sparingly during this movie; he barely appears in the first half of the movie at all. Maybe that’s why the evil queen, despite the fact that she is convinced of the superiority of women to men in all regards, maintains a private coterie of (male) guards for herself; after all, Thor has to fight someone. Most of the movie concentrates on the inner dealings of the female prisoners who must fight in the arena for their freedom, known as the gladiatresses (a word I didn’t even knew existed). The movie itself looks rather chintzy, and there aren’t even many familiar sword and sandal faces here. Though a great deal of talk is made about Thor’s great strength, the only two manifestations of it are in his one direct physical altercation with the Amazons, a glorified version of tug-of-war, and a flashback sequence in which a man defeats a big ape in combat, which looks like it’s stock footage from something else. The movie is also rather sexist; it takes the stance that leadership by women is utter presumption. In order to back up this stance, it even makes the unexpected move of killing off a specific character (the only real surprise in the movie) for the sole purpose of making sure that the character who ends up on the throne at the end is a male. This is not the genre’s finest hour.