The Tartars

The Tartars/I Tartari is a 1961 Italian/Yugoslavian international co-production Technicolor film directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Victor Mature and Orson Welles.[1]

The Tartars
Original film poster
Directed byRichard Thorpe
Produced byRiccardo Gualino
Written byDomenico Salvati
Sabatino Ciuffini
Oreste Palella
Gaio Frattini
Ambrogio Molteni
Julian De Kassel
StarringVictor Mature
Orson Welles
Music byRenzo Rossellini
CinematographyAmerigo Gengarelli
Edited byMaurizio Lucidi
Distributed byMGM
Release date
20 June 1962
Running time
83 min


In what is now Russia, a settlement of Vikings lives in peace with both the Tatars and the Slavs. All is well until Togrul (Folco Lulli), a Tatar chief seeks the help of Oleg (Victor Mature), the chief of the Vikings to war on the Slavs in a surprise attack. Oleg refuses and the group does battle ending with Oleg killing Togrul and abducting Togrul's daughter Samia ([Bella Cortez]]) as a hostage.

Togrul's brother Burundai (Orson Welles) is furious and wishes the Viking settlement burnt to the ground. His high priest, Ciu Lang (Arnoldo Foà), reminds Burundai that Samia is promised to the leader of the Tatars as his wife; her safety and return has a higher priority than Burundai's revenge. Burundai gets his chance to retrieve Samia when a Viking longship is attacked, resulting in the capture of Oleg's wife Helga (Liana Orfei) and her handmaidens. Burundai initially promises to treat Helga well as an exchange for Samia but tortures Helga's handmaidens to discover the strength of the Vikings. He also rapes Helga and gives her to his men for their further pleasure prior to exchanging her for Samia. Meanwhile, Samia has fallen in love with Oleg's brother Eric (Luciano Marin) and is pregnant with Eric's child.



Filming took place in Rome and Yugoslavia in October 1960.[2]


Box office

According to MGM records the film made a profit of $34,000.[3]


Orson Welles' enunciation has been praised while Victor Mature has been considered a miscast for not having the looks of an archetypal Viking.[4]


  • Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano - The Complete Guide From Classics To Cult. London - New York: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-608-0.


  1. Jeff Stafford, "The Tartars", Turner Classic Monthly accessed 6 November 2012
  2. Diane Baker Will Co-star With Egan: Wyler's 'Not for Children', Players and Writers Assigned Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Oct 1960: C9.
  3. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  4. Hughes, p.34
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