In the spring of 1961, Vincent Price and his second wife Mary spent eight months in Rome, Italy where Vincent shot two films back-to-back. The first was Rage of the Buccaneers (released July 1962 in Italy as Gordon Il Pirata Nero, and in the US and UK in 1963 as The Black Buccaneer), a pirate adventure starring Ricardo Montalban. The second was Nefertiti, Regina del Nilo, starring Jeanne Crain and Edmund Purdom. This sword and sandals adventure was released in the summer of 1962 in Italy, and in the UK in 1963 (as Queen of the Nile). While it didn’t get a US theatrical release, it did end up on US TV in January 1964.
Set in 2000BC Egypt, it centres on Tanit (Crain), a temple handmaiden about to elope with a young sculptor Tumos (Purdom). When her plans are discovered, she’s arrested and taken before the Great High Priest Benakon (Price). He reveals he is her father and that the gods have decreed she is destined to marry the Pharoah’s son Amenophis IV (Amadeo Nazzari) under the name Nefertiti. In order to save Tumos’ life, she reluctantly agrees. However, when Amenophis begins worshipping the ‘one god’ Aton, Benakon sets in motion a religious revolt…
While Queen of the Nile is a widely fictitious take on the Nefertiti/Akhenaten legend, this colourful spectacle from director Fernando Cerchio features some effective reused sets (on the backlot of De Paolis INCIR Studios), action and costumes. Decked in leopard-skin cape, braids and kohl eye makeup, Price gets to portray another sly and cunning character (this time a religious zealot). Along for the ride is his Leave Her to Heaven co-star Jeanne Crain, and British-born Edmund Purdom, who would go on to forge a successful career in Italy over the next three decades.
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