Thursday, September 17, 2020

By the Gods!

Yvonne Furneaux as Semiramis in SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON (1963)

SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON (1963) staring Yvonne Furneaux (Semiramis), John Ericson (Kir), Germano Longo (Omnos), Gianni Rizzo (Ghelas), Renzo Ricci (Minurte), Nino Di Napoli (Adath), Harold Bradley, Ugo Sasso, Umberto Silvestri and Annamaria Ubaldi. Directed by Primo Zeglio.

There's a good number of PEPLUM movies set in Babylon. Are most of them historically accurate? Not really but who cares certainly with this one which is so good. The story is that of Semiramis, the legendary Queen of Babylon and wife of Ninus. The script doesn't really follow history. The King is called Minurte not Ninus. In this story, Semiramis is a scheming woman who marries the King for power, is courted by Omnos (Germano Longo) but she falls in love with a Dardanian King, Kir (John Ericson) who is enslaved by power hungry Omnos, only to become a rebel. The movie is all about power, greed and love.

John Ericson as Kir, the Dardanian King turned rebel. Ericsson recently passed away.

Right off the bat, I have to say that this PEPLUM movie is one of my favourites and it's one of the movies which made fall in love with the genre. The acting from all actors is top notch, even with the dubbing. John Ericson is a bit stiff but he's good looking enough to overlook this but the other actors, Furneaux, Rizzo, and Longo turn in all solid performances. Things are made better with Furneaux doing her line reading in English. The dubbing in many scenes is at times flawless.

Germano Longo is so good I believe this is a star making performance. He tries so hard to plot schemes only to be outdone by Semiramis, who out schemes him at every turn. Gianni Rizzo probably gives his best performance in a PEPLUM movie. He's a really good actor. And Yvonne is mesmerizing as Semiramis. Her constant attempt to manipulate everyone and everything is fun to watch. Everyone wants to get rid of Minurte (Semiramis, Omnos and Kir). The story is bathed with power hungry people trying to outdo each other.
Semiramis (Yvonne Furneaux), Adath (Nino di Napoli), Ghelas (Gianni Rizzo) and Minurte (Renzo Ricci)

The best thing about SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON, aside from the acting, is the dialogue. Like REVENGE OF THE BARBARIANS (1960), the dialogue is very good and endlessly quotable.

"It's the darkness that treachery hides itself. And it's in the dark that we can disarm an enemy who would otherwise destroy us!" Semiramis says to Minurte. 

Omnos (Germano Longo) longs for Semiramis (Furneaux) who is actually in love with another man.

The one thing that sorta difficult to grasp is the relationship between Semiramis and Kir. It's a love/hate relationship since the moment they first met but by the end Kir becomes a villain of sorts (after suffering from being a slave so it's sorta understandable...) and this makes you wonder why Semiramis is always infatuated with him. Yes, Ericsson is a good looking man but Kir hardly hides his disdain for a things Babylonian from the get go so Semiramis seemed really hard up for love after falling for someone who hates everything about her world.

The action scenes are good with obvious stuntwork coordinated by Alfio Caltabiano, who also has a small role in it. The movie is a combination romance / action. 

And the ending, which I won't spoil, is quite memorable. I must admit it feels a bit rushed but the final shot is effective thanks to Primo Zeglio's direction. 

Nearly nude and in lust! Kir defies a bathing Semiramis. Beefcake and cheesecake galore. 

John Ericson, who mainly worked on television in the US, displays his physique in one of the most daring way. The camera doesn't shy away from scrutinizing his athletic physique. Even today, it's quite bold. Furneaux is seen swimming in the nude but very little skin is actually shown. The focus is clearly on the leggy Ericson.

Umberto Silvestri, Furneaux and Annamaria Ubaldi. And brick wallpaper.

The weakest aspect of the movie is the production, mainly the costumes and some of the props, sets. This being a TWIN PRODUCTION with WAR GODS OF BABYLON (1962), see article I wrote on this, the movie obviously cut corners on the costumes which seems to be a hodge podge of every costumes from previous movies. Mind you, it still looks good. It's just that it looks all over the place. There's very little Babylonian aspects to the costumes. Some props look tacky and out of place. But the movie was shot in actual Cinemascope format which gives the production a top notch quality nonetheless. The two major sets, that of the exterior of the big temple, and the main interior set (with the honeycomb windows) are also seen prominently in WAR GODS OF BABYLON. Both are great. Not so great are the many interior sets with obvious wallpaper standing in for actual brickwork. Half of the production is great, and the half it's sorta appears to have been made rather quickly. 

Of the two films from this TWIN PRODUCTION, SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON easily surpasses WAR GODS OF BABYLON. WAR GOOD is good but the acting and dialogue are solid in SLAVE QUEEN.

Fun note: the pronunciation of Semiramis in this movie is my favourite (here's how it sounds). Many pronounce it  SEM-MY-RA-MISS which drives me crazy. It's SI-MIR-UH-MIS.

The movie is also filled with numerous familiar faces, like Jeff Cameron, Harold Bradley, Umberto Silvestri, Fortunato Arena, Amerigo Santarelli, etc, which, for fans of PEPLUM movies like me, is fun to spot. 

I have a gazillion different versions of this:  I have a Spanish, French, and US TV versions. I also have two Italian versions, one from a TV broadcast and one from a DVD source. The most important one though is the Fan Dub I created (one of the first I've ever made) and which I've uploaded recently to PEPLUM TV Youtube channel. I used the audio from the US broadcast copy and it's the most complete English version available anywhere. 

I give it a solid 8.5 out of 10. 

I would have rated it higher if the production, mainly the costumes, had been more consistent with actual Babylonian culture.

The stunning eyes of Yvonne Furneaux!

Lobby Cards Set: MYSTERY OF THE BLACK JUNGLE (1954)

US lobby cards set of MYSTERY OF THE BLACK JUNGLE (1954; I misteri della giungla nera) starring Lex Barker. Remarkably enough, I have yet to see this movie. I have its sequel, BLACK DEVILS OF KALI (1954) but not the first movie. The cast is slightly different than the second movie. Good set. Lex is nearly in all cards so that's a plus. I like it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

BY THE GODS!: Upcoming movie: SPARTACUS…


1959 article on the upcoming SPARTACUS (1960) production.

Only at BY THE GODS!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

By the Gods!

Steve Reeves as Sandokan in SANDOKAN - PIRATE OF MALAYSIA (1964)

In this movie, Sandokan is a rebel who goes against British forces. He was hired to work on this British ship. Who would hire someone as formidable as Sandokan to work or infiltrate your fortified ship? I like this movie and watched it many times, and Reeves is great in it but this part of the story never made much sense to me. 

Then & Now: Don Murray

Don Murray in THE VIKING QUEEN (1967); a recent photo of the actor.

Monday, September 14, 2020

By the Gods!

Diana Rigg as Portia in JULIUS CAESAR (1970)

Diana died on September 10 at the age of 82. She was most famous for playing Emma Peel on THE AVENGERS TV series. Her role in JULIUS CAESAR is a brief one, centred mainly around Brutus (played by Jason Robards). She also starred in SAMSON AND DELILAH (1996) mini-series. R.I.P.! 


 

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of BLACK DEVILS OF KALI (1954)

I like it. But I don't get why Sandokan is there. Lex Barker plays Tremal Naik but there's no Sandokan in this movie. Hmm...

PEPLUM TV Official store



Friday, September 11, 2020

By the Gods!

Randus (Steve Reeves) is helped by Baxus (Ahmed Ramzy) in THE SON OF SPARTACUS (1962; also known as The Slave)

In this movie, Randus, a Roman centurion, ends up as a slave. And being a slave, one has to do the things needed to set themselves free. It's a good scene and shows the desperation their characters are in. Ahmed Ramzy is mistakenly credited at IMDb by a different character and name. I've already noted about this years ago here at the blog and nothing has been made to correct it. I really like this movie except for the anti-climatic ending. One of Reeves best nonetheless.

At the movies...

THE ROBE (1953) at the Roxy in Time Square. Long line. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

By the Gods!

Nemee (Moira Orfei) takes care of a wounded Hercules (Mickey Hargitay) in THE LOVES OF HERCULES (1960; also known as Hercules vs the Hydra)

This was Moira's second feature and she apparently captured producers' eyes from this as she eventually starred in countless PEPLUM movies and over 40 acting credits. I like Moira. She was a genuine PEPLUM star. She apparently had some sort of rivalry with Jayne Mansfield, who was the main star of this production. The rivalry was so much that some posters actually removed Jayne completely from them, with Moira listed as the main star. Really odd. She recalled this rivalry during an interview she had made before her death. I like this movie but I admit it's a goofy one with a befuddled Mickey Hargitay as Hercules. Fun nonetheless. 

Behind-the-Scenes

A behind the scenes photo of Reg Park from HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (1961)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

By the Gods!

Toto meets the Queen of Atlantis, Antinea (Tamara Lees) in TOTO THE SHEIK (1950)

A comedy that spoofs Sheik movies and Lost Atlantis movies. It begins in contemporary setting and as the story is set further in the desert, it becomes a PEPLUM movie. Many movies have used this template, including GWENDOLINE (1984).

Tamara Lees had an exotic look that's difficult to forget. She made a handful of PEPLUM movies, including THE QUEEN OF BABYLON (1954). I don't know why but Toto's black & white movies are better than his widescreen and color ones. The movie is on Youtube.



Non-PEPLUM PEPLUM movies: FOR A FEW EXTRA DOLLARS (1966)

As the PEPLUM genre died by the mid-1960s, many stars and directors moved on to different genres, mainly Euro-spy and Spaghetti Western movies. It's amazing how many Euro-Western movies star more than one PEPLUM star in it. A great example would be FOR A FEW EXTRA DOLLARS (1968) starring Giuliano Gemma, Dan Vadis, Jacques Sernas, Benito Stefanelli and more. It was directed by Giorgio Ferroni (credited as Calvin J Paget). Supporting cast includes Nello Pazzafini, Andrea Bosic, and Claudio Scarchilli, amongst others. All familiar faces in PEPLUM movies. It's also known as FORT YUMA GOLD. Now if only PEPLUM movies had so many stars together maybe it wouldn't have died a quick death.

Dan Vadis and Giuliano Gemma in the same movie? The two PEPLUM stars didn't appear in a PEPLUM movie together, which is a shame. Dan is back with a bad haircut. 

Benito Stefanelli, Dan Vadis and Jacques Sernas! How cool it would have been if all three had been together in a PEPLUM movie? Sernas, who played Paris in HELEN OF TROY (1956; below) has a supporting role.



Pietro Capanna and Benito Stefanelli. Pietro appeared in a handful of PEPLUM movies, including THE SPARTAN GLADIATORS (1964; below with Massimo Serato). Pietro is not credited at IMDb for this Spaghetti Western.



Unlike PEPLUM movies, actors kept their clothes on for the entire movie. Here's a rare beefcake moment with Giuliano.

Watching this is like watching a PEPLUM movie with the wrong costumes. The movie itself is overlong and it reminds me of why I'm not a big fan of them. There are great Spaghetti Westerns, certainly the Sergio Leone ones but I much prefer watching PEPLUM films. Giorgio Feroni's direction, so good in THE BACCHANTES and THE TROJAN HORSE, is sorta wasted here. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

By the Gods!

Alberto Lupo and Edmund Purdom in HEROD THE GREAT (1959)

The costumes in this excellent production are excellent. I've been trying to make a list of the best costumes in a PEPLUM movie for some time now, and this one will surely be featured on that list. Really above average costumes. If the costumes in a movie are great it's already 50% excellent. Yes, costumes are that important to me (even skimpy costumes...lol!). Both actors are excellent with Purdom giving a solid performance without some of the histrionics he would use in some later movies. Purdom's real voice was used. Recommended.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

French poster of REVENGE OF THE BARBARIANS (1960)

Love it. I want it. Great film!

PEPLUM TV Official store



Friday, August 28, 2020

PEPLUM Break


I take a break every two months and my last full time break was at the end of June so this is the time again.

Stay tuned!

I'll leave you now with King Leonidas (Richard Egan) from THE 300 SPARTANS (1962), saying "From this wall, we do not retreat!"

By the Gods!

A leather-bound Hercules (Alan Steel) strikes a Roman soldier in HERCULES AGAINST ROME (1964)

A favourite of mine with Steel in fine action form. Leather suited Alan pretty well. He also wore leather in his most of his other films, like HERCULES AGAINST THE BLACK PIRATE (1964) or SAMSON & THE SLAVE QUEEN (1963). He wore it more often than any other PEPLUM star. In fact, it was his signature look. This movie needs to be released in HD and uncut. 

Recent acquisitions - summer 2020

Every summer, I sorta post about PEPLUM stuff I've bought. I didn't buy much this summer due to many reasons, one of which is, of course, the whole coronavirus situation. For the longest time shipping has slowed to a crawl in Canada, so it discouraged me from buying things. What I did buy I mostly really like, certainly the posters. Remarkably enough, the vintage posters from Italy were the least expensive things in this haul.


Movie Memorabilia:

Giant poster of GLADIATOR OF ROME (1962). It's so big I had to place it on my bed. It comes in two separate sheets. It's absolutely spectacular. I love it. I don't know where to put it but I'm glad it's in my collection. I paid $22.00 in US currency.

Not as big as GLADIATOR OF ROME but still very big, here's an original poster of THE GIANTS OF THESSALY (1961). It's in a fragile state. It's great. In SUPERTOTALSCOPE! Only $10.00 US.


Well, this one is stunning. Original Italian poster of SON OF SAMSON (1960). The artwork, everything, is eye catching. One of the best posters, PEPLUM or not, in my collection. I love seeing MACISTE in such bold lettering. This was the first Maciste movie since the silent era. Same size as the THESSALY one. Only $35.00 US! A steal!


Two Danish movie programs of Steve Reeves movies: HERCULES (1958) and MORGAN, THE PIRATE (1960). There are photos in these tiny programs which I've never seen before.


Books:

Filed with info but the writing is more focused on the political stuff than the movies themselves. I will use this as reference. Why the author focused on this subject remains a mystery (to me anyway). Only $12.00 US.


This book cost nearly $90.00. I sorta regret buying it. As I stated before, it reads more like a novel (author assumes stuff of how Freda thought or felt even though he wasn't there hen these things transpired. It's odd.) I was expecting a book with technical stuff, some anecdotes, and the usual but not this.


This book is a find. I never heard of it and came upon it by accident. It focuses only on Hollywood movies, which I was expecting, and it's filled with photos and looks pretty good. I'll read it soon enough. 


A soft-cover book filled with drawing which illustrates how people of Pompeii lived back in the day. Nice.


DVDs:


Two DVDs from SINISTER CINEMA. These are probably my last ones I'll buy from them. They are way overpriced and the shipping is insanely expensive. In total these two DVDs cost me $75.00 Canadian. Yes, you read that right. $32 US for both DVDs + shipping (over $20 US) and the currency conversion brings it to $75 in Canadian dollars. It's too much. But I'm glad I bought both. The GOLGOTHA is the only English version available anywhere (from my research) and the movie itself is excellent so I'm happy with this purchase. 

Even though I have multiple copies of SINS OF ROME (1953) none of them are complete (in the English dub, anyway). I bought the SOMETHING WEIRD version of this film a couple of months ago, which is complete but the audio is messed up. So I decided to buy the SINISTER one to see if it has all the missing scenes with good audio and it mostly does. So I'll use the audio from this copy and add it to the SOMETHING WEIRD one, fix it and it will be the most complete edition in English. The audio is fine but the image quality is terrible.



Merch:


I ordered some samples from the official PEPLUM TV store and I got this t-shirt, size extra large. The smaller the size of the t-shirt, the bigger the design will look. The bigger size t-shirt, the smaller the design will look. I also ordered a mug but it's either lost in the mail or delayed (I ordered it over a month ago!). I'm impressed by the quality of stuff from Teespring but the shipping sucks (I'm not responsible for it). Don't let this discourage you from buying merchandise though. Keep in mind of what is going on in the world in regards to the coronavirus pandemic. Also, I'll be adding new designs and stuff to the store in the coming months.

I still have other stuff on the way (I have a second GIANTS OF THESSALY poster I haven't received yet), delayed by the slowed down shipping caused by the coronavirus lockdowns. I'll mention these purchases in a later haul.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

By the Gods!

Salammbò (Jeanne Valérie) and Narr Havas (Edmund Purdom) are mortal enemies in SALAMMBO (1960)

This movie has been blocked and unblocked on Youtube more times than I can remember. Recently, it was playable on YT without any claims but now it's playable only with a copyright claim. I did a Fan Dub of this over-the-top PEPLUM, the only one available in English and widescreen, and well I can't play it anywhere. I like it. There are some really good stuff in it even though it's often overly boisterous, certainly in regards to the score. Director Sergio Grieco, who played it safe in previous productions, went all machismo with this one. It's quite fun to watch the director's transition into this uber virile director who went on to make other OTT macho movies like JULIUS CAESAR AGAINST THE PIRATES (1962) and later on with Eurospy movies like the 077 series with Ken Clark, such as SPECIAL MISSION LADY CHAPLIN (1966) which is really worth watching, and in the 1970s in addition of directing movies he also became a screenwriter,  including being one of the writers of THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (1978). What a career!

Lobby Cards Set: REVENGE OF THE GLADIATORS (1964)

US lobby card set for REVENGE OF THE GLADIATORS (1964; La vendetta di Spartacus; also known as The Revenge of Spartacus) starring Roger Browne, Gordon Mitchell, Scilla Gabel and a host of other actors. Ok set but very repetitive. Almost no stand-out card. Cards 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8 are from the same scene. This set needed more variety. It is action-packed though. Not to be confused with the confused with the Mickey Hargitay movie.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

By the Gods!

Ursus (Samson Burke) confers with locals in VENGEANCE OF URSUS (1961)

A fun movie many have 'rediscovered' after seeing it for the first time in widescreen. It is a nice looking film. That's PEPLUM veteran Ugo Sasso on the left of Burke, and the kid is Roberto Chevalier. Probably Burke's best movie. He only made a handful. 

Different Titles: HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (1964)

Today, HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (1964) starring ALan Steel and Jany Clair. Not many selections but the major ones.

As you can see the Hero in the original version was Maciste, renamed Hercules for English markets since Maciste wasn't a marketable name.


Original Italian title. Translates as MACISTE AND THE QUEEN OF SAMAR


The English title. It puts the Moon men in the title, unlike any other titles out there.


The French title translates as MACISTE AGAINST THE ROCK MEN, not the MOON MEN.


Alan Steel in the classic PEPLUM movie.