Cast & Crew
Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
In the eighth century B.C., after the Assyrians conquer Babylon, their monarch, King Assur, ascends to the throne and persecutes all those he defeated. Among them is Amal, a Chaldean warrior, who vows revenge on the king after his soldiers senselessly kill Amal's good friend. Consequently, when Assur demands submission from the vanquished leaders, Amal defies the new ruler and refuses to kneel before him. After Amal storms out of the palace, Assur instructs his soldiers to slay him once he is outside the walls of the city. Although Amal bravely battles his Assyrian attackers, he is wounded by one of their arrows. After collapsing on the river bank, Amal is found by Semiramis, a beautiful, lonely goatherder who tends his wound. Semiramis and Amal fall in love, and one day, when Assyrian soldiers converge at the river in search of Amal, Semiramis lies that she has never seen him. Once the soldiers depart, Semiramis hides Amal in the hills until he can fully recover from his injury. They lead an idyllic life together until one day Amal declares that he is well enough to return and lead his people against the tyrant Assur. Amal promises to take Semiramis with him, but on the day that they are to leave, Semiramis goes to her hut to gather her belongings and finds an Assyrian soldier there, brandishing a medallion worn by Amal. Awaiting Semiramis' return, Amal hears the soldiers' horses in the distance and sees smoke rising from the goatherders' village. Running into the flames in search of Semiramis, Amal discovers that she and the other women have been imprisoned in Babylon. There Sibari, the king's cousin, comes to the women's cell to choose dancers to honor the king at the festivities the following day. As the women squabble among themselves for the honor, Sibari notices Semiramis languishing alone in a corner and designates her to be his consort. Upon hearing of the alluring new concubine Sibari has selected for himself, the king summons his cousin to his chamber and demands that Semiramis be presented to him as a gift. At the temple dance, Assur is smitten by Semiramis, arousing the ire of Lysia, his former favorite. That night, Amal sneaks into the palace and tells Semiramis to slip out and meet him at the old tavern the following evening. Jealous of Semiramis, Lysia feigns friendship in order to betray her. Naïvely accepting Lysia's sincerity, Semiramis tells her about the meeting in the tavern. When Lysia tries to use Semiramis' secret to form an alliance with the power-hungry Sibari, Sibari threatens to disfigure her unless she divulges all she knows. At the tavern that night, Amal waits for Semiramis and plots an uprising against Assur. Soon after, Assur's men arrive, and although Amal fights valiantly, he is captured along with his fellow conspirators. At the palace, meanwhile, Semiramis rejects the king's advances, who, enticed, decides to be patient with her. Once Amal is imprisoned, Sibari takes Semiramis to witness him being beaten and then promises leniency for Amal if she agrees to submit to the king. Semiramis agrees to Sibari's terms, and soon the king falls in love with her and decides to make her his queen. When Amal learns that Semiramis is to be crowned queen of Babylon, he thinks she has betrayed him. To cheer his melancholy queen, Assur decides to hold a competition among the prisoners, sparing the lives of those who win. As their challenge, the prisoners, armed only with daggers, are ushered into a crocodile pit and ordered to kill the beasts. After the first competitor is eaten by a crocodile, Amal escapes from his cell, jumps into the pit and slays the beast. When Semiramis begs for the competition to end, Assur grants the prisoners their lives but sentences them to slave labor toiling in a nearby quarry. Afterward, Semiramis goes to the quarry to see Amal and explains that she agreed to marry Assur in order to save Amal's life. After forgiving Semiramis, Amal forsakes her and bids her a final farewell. Upon returning to the palace, Semiramis finds that Sibari has murdered Assur and plans to blame her for the crime. When Lysia overhears Sibari boasting of his plan to use the king's murder as his portal to the throne, she rides off to warn Amal but is wounded by one of the palace guards. Before dying, Lysia reaches Amal and informs him of Semiramis' peril. Amal and the other slaves then revolt against the guards, and stealing their horses, ride to Babylon, arriving just as the tribunal condemns Semiramis to burn at the stake. As the slaves battle the guards, Amal pulls Semiramis from the flames and then engages Sibari in a sword fight. They duel to the edge of the crocodile pit, where Sibari slips and falls and is devoured by the hungry beasts. With Assur's and Sibari's downfall, Semiramis restores law and justice to Babylon, and Amal raises his sword in allegiance to his queen.
Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
C. L. Bragaglia
E. De Concini
E. Musimeci Greco
John M. Newberry
The film, which reviews noted was shot entirely in Italy, was released there under the titles La cortigiana di Babilonia and Semiramis. The film opens with the following prologue read by an offscreen narrator: "In the last years of the eighth century before Christ, the kingdom of Babylonia was conquered by the Assyrians. After a long and exhausting war, when all hope of resistance was lost, the tribes allied with Babylonia were forced to submit to the Assyrian conquerer, King Assur." According to materials in the film's file in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the film was shot entirely in Italy under the auspices of American producer Nat Wachsberger several years before its American release; the SAB notes that the film was completed in January 1955. Twentieth Century-Fox distributed the picture only in the United States and Canada.
The Hollywood Reporter review lists the film's aspect ratio as 1.85:1, but the Daily Variety review makes a point of stating that it is only 1.33:1. According to the Variety review, director of photography Gabor Pogany filmed the picture using a Ferraniacolor camera. Although the running time of the released print was 98 minutes, the tradeshow print ran 109 minutes. As noted in the Daily Variety review, the dialogue of the Italian actors was dubbed into English from Italian. Modern sources credit Vittorio Valentini with set decoration and Franco Groppioni with sound. Stories about Queen Semiramis can be traced back to the writings of first century B.C. Greek historian Diodorus Siculous. Modern historical sources, however, generally dismiss the stories as legend rather than historical fact.
Released in United States July 1956
Released in United States July 1956