Written By: Ken Hulsey
I know it has been over two weeks since I last took a look into my own private collection of movie promotional images and I'm sure that all of you have been just going ape shit crazy wondering what I would pull out of my sack?
What? No bad jokes based on that really bad pun?
Okay, your no fun! Anyway today I have yet once again selected an image that was created for theater owners via trade publications. The image itself is a full page advert for the 1954 epic "Theodora, Slave Empress".
Again ... crickets
Well good old "Theodora" despite being a "Fiery, Barbaric Mistress of the World's Most Sinful Empire" failed to really bring them in during the early 1950s and the film itself is relatively forgotten. In fact, just try and find out any info on this one online.
Again ... crickets
Well the most important things you need to know is that the film is an Italian import, it stars the rather sexy Gianna Maria Canale, is based on a real figure from Roman history (Theodora I) and was kinda Xena before Lucy Lawless slipped into a leather corset.
It should also be noted that film makers of this period often times believed that history could be both entertaining and sexy, often times adding a little artistic license to the real life stories of some of histories more prominent names. The results of these films was a real mixed bag of which "Theodora" has sunk to the bottom.
As for the image itself ... well ... slave girl in a little harem outfit with a whip moves you to the head of the class!
Here is your history:
Theodora, Slave Empress (Italian: Teodora, imperatrice di Bisanzio) is a 1954 film about Theodora, a former slave who married Justinian I, emperor of Byzantium in AD 527-565. It was directed by Riccardo Freda. (Honestly ... that's all Wikipedia has on this film!)
IMDB at least has a plot:
Teodora, a Roman courtesan and former slave girl, marries the Roman emperor Justinian and assumes the throne as Empress of Rome. But the divide between nobility and slave is too great. Teodora seeks justice for her people, and revolution and armed conflict erupt in both Byzantium and Rome. - Jim Beaver
Here is what you really want to know:
Gianna Maria Canale (12 September 1927 – 13 February 2009
Canale was born in Reggio Calabria. In 1947, at the Miss Italia beauty contest, won by Lucia Bosè, she placed second. Canale received publicity in many Italian magazines after this. Her looks were compared to those of Ava Gardner. Riccardo Freda offered her a role in a movie, and, after they fell in love, they got married in Brazil, where they shot two films. Canale however was not used to living in South America and they came back to Italy, where, always directed by her husband, she starred in many sword and sandal films, as well as Italian horror and adventure films. I vampiri was her last film with Freda. She retired from the movie industry in 1964 and died in Florence in February 2009.
And about the real Theodora:
Theodora I (Greek: Θεοδώρα) (c. 500 – June 28, 548), was empress of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Like her husband, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14. Theodora is perhaps the most influential and powerful woman in the Roman Empire's history.
I know that I will loose you if I go too far into the life of Theodora I but the rest of her bio can be found HERE.
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