The Sword and the Cross

The Sword and the Cross (Italian: La spada e la croce) is a 1958 Italian religious drama film directed by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia and starring Yvonne De Carlo as Mary Magdalene.[1] Shot in English and later dubbed in Italian,[2] the film was released in the United States in 1960 as Mary Magdalene.[3]

The Sword and the Cross
La spada e la croce (Italy, 1958)
Mary Magdalene (U.S., 1960)
Directed byCarlo Ludovico Bragaglia
Produced byOttavio Poggi
Screenplay bySandro Continenza
Story byOttavio Poggi
StarringYvonne De Carlo
Music byRoberto Nicolosi
CinematographyRaffaele Masciocchi
Edited byRenato Cinquini
Liber Film
Distributed byAmex (U.S.)
Release date
1958 (Italy)
1960 (U.S.)
Running time



De Carlo was signed for the film in May 1958.[4] The film's director, Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, later remembered that the "producer, Ottavio Poggi, had sent the provisional script to America, so Yvonne De Carlo could read it and decide on her participation in the film. She read it and got very excited, agreeing to play the role of Magdalene."[5]

Edgar G. Ulmer was reportedly preparing another project on Magdalene with Ottavio Poggi.[6]

De Carlo left for Rome in July 1958. Filming took place in Rome in August through to November 1958 at Cinicetta Studios.[7] A working title for the film was The Great Sinner.[8]


Although the film was shot under the English title The Sword and the Cross another Italian film with that name (Le Schiave di Cartagine aka Slaves of Carthage) starring Gianna Maria Canale and Jorge Mistral, was released un the US in 1960.[9]

Critical reception

The Los Angeles Times called the film "sluggish".[10]

Gary Allen Smith, in his book Epic Films: Casts, Credits and Commentary on More Than 350 Historical Spectacle Movies, described the film as "above average."[3]


  1. Roberto Chiti; Roberto Poppi; Enrico Lancia. Dizionario del cinema italiano: I film. Gremese, 1991. ISBN 8876055487.
  2. "Hard Work Pays Off For Yvonne". The Deseret News. July 18, 1958. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  3. Smith, Gary Allen (2004). Epic Films: Casts, Credits and Commentary on More Than 350 Historical Spectacle Movies, 2d ed. McFarland. pp. 164–165. ISBN 1476604185. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  4. "De Carlo Signed for Italian 'Magdalene'". Variety. May 20, 1958.
  5. Antonelli, Lamberto; Laura, Ernesto G. (1992). Nato col cinema: Carlo Ludovico Braggalia: cent'anni tra arti e cinema. A.N.C.C.I. p. 101. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  6. Scheuer, P. K. (1958, May 20). 'Small world' seen as large novelty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  7. By, R. F. (1958, Nov 09). ITALIAN SCREEN SCENE. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  8. Filmer, F. (1958, Jul 26). GOSSIP. Picture show, 71, 3-4. Retrieved from
  9. Archer, E. (1960, Jun 30). 'Sword and the cross'. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  10. Stinson, C. (1960, Aug 05). 'MAGDALENE' TAKES HER TIME TO REFORM. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
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