With director Abel Gance at the helm, the title character in Lucrezia Borgia exudes more sex appeal and wears fewer clothes than any previous screen incarnation of the infamous Florentine poisoner. Edwige Feuillere stars as Lucrezia, who learns her ruthless political cunning at the knee of Machiavelli (Aime Clariond) himself. Sold into a marriage of convenience by her craven brother Cesare (Gabriel Gabrio), Lucrezia soon holds all of 15th-century Florence in thrall. Her despotic rule is energetically challenged by tireless reformer Savonarola, who more or less functions as Abel Gance's alter ego (though Gance would certainly not have wished to meet Savonarola's grisly fate!) Filmed in 1935, Lucrezia Borgia ran into censorship problems in England (thanks to its implicit anti-Papal stance), Italy and Germany, holding up its international release for nearly two years.
by Hal Erickson synopsis