Filmed on location in Rome at a then-staggering cost of $100,000, The Eternal City was based on the best-selling historical novel by Hall Caine. Pauline Frederick emotes convincingly as the mistress of an Italian prime minister. When another of her lovers kills the man who tried to rape her, the woman nobly takes the blame. The resulting scandal causes a political upheaval, which was then and is now nothing new in Italy. For all its splendor and spectacle, The Eternal City is often brought down to nickelodeon level by the unimaginative direction of Edwin S. Porter, whose style hadn't developed much since his landmark The Great Train Robbery (1903).
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