According to Vernon Jarrat in “The Italian Cinema”:
“The major effort of the Italian film industry in the immediately pre-war years was Scipione l' Africano, which was intended to remind the latter-day Italians of the glories of their past in the period of Imperial Rome, and, once again, to repeat the theme of the African empire.... The demands of the production in the way of financial and material resources were so great that a special combine, consisting of all the largest producing houses, was formed to carry this responsibility.”
Interestingly, Scipione L'Africano was released in New York in 1939, and got this response from the New York Times:
“...it is...more than a little operatic, so that there are moments in the film when one feels that it is not so much the noble days of Republican Rome that one is witnessing as the last act of ‘Aida.' This illusion is fostered by the famous and historic charge of the Punic elephants, which is, of course, the big feature of the clash between Scipio... and Hannibal, a virile and bearded personage who, in appearance, is a cross betweeen Il Duce and Man Mountain Dean.
“The picture also boasts two separate and distinct examples of the sex appeal of the ancient world, in the desirable blond person of Isa Miranda (on the Roman side) and in the equally desirable brunette person of Francesca Braggiotti (batting for Carthage). In our own archaic De Mille tradition of the costume film, Miss Braggiotti is superbly undulant: a welcome feminine relief from the masculine speechmakings, chest-beatings and careful insertions of false daggers into operatic chests on the various battlefields outside her various boudoirs. In conclusion, it may be of some historic interest to note that the ancient Romans were in the habit of greeting their generals with the Fascist salute.”