Monday, October 15, 2018

Article of the week: Black & White PEPLUM films

One of the most unique things of the PEPLUM genre is how nearly all PEPLUM films were shot in color. The genre itself was perfectly showcased in color, with the grand spectacle and pageantry of it all. Even Italian films were nearly all filmed in pricey color while other contemporary films were still shot in B&W. It's one of the great aspects of the genre. This doesn't mean there weren't PEPLUM films shot in B&W. There were but they're in the minority. Here's a quick overview of some of these titles.

(I'm not including silent films which were nearly all filmed in B&W and the list is only PEPLUM films set in antiquity)


SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932)
True Boardman and Charles Laughton in this Cecil B. DeMille directed epic. One of the few big films of the 1930s.


ROMAN SCANDALS (1933)
Eddie Cantor star in this infamous PEPLUM musical comedy.


CLEOPATRA (1934)
Cleopatra (Claudette Colbert) salutes Caesar after being rolled out of a carpet. Another Cecil B. DeMille super-production.


THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1935)
Preston Foster in this rare PEPLUM of the 1930s


GOLGOTHA (1935)
A scene from this French film based on the life of Jesus


SCIPIO AFRICANUS (1937)
Massive crowd scenes from this state sponsored movie


FABIOLA (1949)
Michele Morgan and Henri Vidal in this classic B&W PEPLUM epic.


SINS OF POMPEII (1950)
Georges Marchal in SINS OF POMPEII. A film that quickly established the French actor as a leading PEPLUM star.


MESSALINA (1951)
Cinzia (Delia Scala) tries to save Timus (Erno Crisa) from hungry lions with prayers. One of the best looking and most spectacular B&W PEPLUM productions. Scenes from this were re-used in ANDROCLES & THE LION.


O.K. NERO (1951)
Silvana Pampanini, Gino Cervi and Giulio Donnini star in this PEPLUM comedy.


THE QUEEN OF SHEBA (1952)
Leonora Ruffo, Umberto Silvestri and Gino Leurini star in this fun PEPLUM film directed by Pietro Francisci. A definite fave of mine.


ANDROCLES & THE LION (1952)
Robert Newton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature in this Hollywood production. Scenes from MESSALINE (1951) were re-used for this production.


SPARTACO - SINS OF ROME (1953)

Massimo Girotti and Gianna Maria Canale in a film directed by Riccardo Freda. The best B&W PEPLUM film. Below: a short clip of the amazing arena scene.



FRINE - COURTESAN OF THE ORIENT (1953)
Pierre Cressoy and Elena Klaus. Nicely shot in B&W.


NERO & THE BURNING OF ROME (1953)
Messalina (Yvonne Sanson) and Nero (Gino Cervi) plot something. I have yet to see this rare film.


JULIUS CAESAR (1953)
Mark Antony (Marlon Brando) gives a speech to the public in JULIUS CAESAR (1953). One of the rare B&W PEPLUM films made in Hollywood during the 1950s.


JUDAS' KISS (1954)
A scene from this rarely seen Spanish film


THE SINNER (1959)
Ruth Roman and Akim Tamirof in this rare PEPLUM film. It was apparently shot a couple years before and only released in 1959, which might explain why it wasn't shot in color.


THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES (1963)
Publicity photo of Samson Burke as Hercules and the 3 Stooges for THE 3 STOOGES MEET HERCULES. One of the rare PEPLUM films released in the 1960s that was shot in B&W.

Aside from art films like THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST MATTHEW (1964) or ELEKTRA (1962), nearly all PEPLUM productions were shot in color and in widescreen.

Posted at the permanent page


Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian poster of TAUR THE MIGHTY (1963)

Good poster. Nothing earth shattering but the resemblance of the actors is good. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

By the Gods!

The Kraken going after Andromeda in CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

Who knew back in 1981 that "Release the Kraken!" would become such a popular saying/meme today. In fact, a politician in the US used the fight between Perseus and the Kraken as an analogy for the heated political situation involved with the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. Surreal!

(A side note: another politician also used the "I Am Spartacus!" saying to prove a point!)

STEVE REEVES trailers


Here are 4 trailers of Steve Reeves films. I can't publish the titles or else Youtube will go after me again (my issue with Youtube is still not resolved)

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

By the Gods!

Herculanas (Sim Iness) shows his strength in SIGN OF THE PAGAN (1954)

It's one of those scenes with a super strong man who is pitted against the main villain (Attila, played by Jack Palance) to show how ruthless the bad guy is after overpowering him. The tall Sim Iness only appeared in two films. This 'bending metal' moment was made 4 years before HERCULES (1958) but the scene itself is lackluster. His poor acting is not helped with the terrible costume (his small black shield is silly) and the overall bad execution of the scene (look at the framing in this screenshot). The character's name was suppose to hint at a Hercules-like strongman but fails to impress when scenes like this one are suppose to impress.

Behind-the-Scenes

A behind the scenes photo from CLEOPATRA (1963): we see Elizabeth Taylor and Harold Bradley preparing for a scene. Bradley was a regular star in PEPLUM movies.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

By the Gods!

Gordon Scott and Pietro de Vico in GLADIATOR OF ROME (1962)

Gordon Scott was probably thinking: how can I kill this annoying fellow? This film was one of the first to have a bunch of disparate and disgruntled gladiators join forces to form a small army with the hero to overthrow the villain. It quickly became one of the most popular clichés of the genre. It was released the same day as COLOSSUS OF ROME, which also had this identical plot line.


Gabriele Antonini, RIP


Gabriele Antonini, famous for playing Ulysses in both HERCULES films starring Steve Reeves, died last Saturday. He was 80 years old. Antonini starred a good number of PEPLUM films before his career ended when the genre ended. It's a shame. He was good. I really liked him. Though his other films are good he'll always be remembered as Ulysses. RIP. Here's a quick overview of his major roles.

HERCULES (1958)
Hercules (Steve Reeves) shows Ulysses (Antonini) how to use a bow and arrow. Classic, timeless scene.

Hercules (Steve Reeves), Ulysses (Gabriele Antonini) and Orpheus (Aldo Fiorello). In the HERCULES films, Antonini played a crucial part of bringing fun and levity (and intelligence) against Reeves' super muscular character.

The Argonauts from HERCULES (1958)

The actors are: Fulvio Carrara as Pollux, Willy Colombini as Castor, Fabrizio Mioni as Jason, Aldo Pini as Tifi, Steve Reeves as Hercules, Gabriele Antonini as Ulysses, Andrea Fantasia as Laertes and Gino Mattera as Orpheus.


HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

Iole (Sylva Koscina) sings Evening Star. Ulysses (Antonini) enjoys the melody. Below, with Steve Reeves. In this scene, Ulysses character figures out the secret to Antaeus' strength.



HEAD OF TYRANT (1959)
Antonini had a substantial role in this film

THE SEVEN REVENGES (1961)
Antonioni with Bella Cortez in this excellent PEPLUM

THE MONGOLS (1961)
Gabriele had a small role in this crowded film

SAMSON & THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (1961)
Antonini starred with Gordon Scott in this story set in China

IL SEGNO DI VENDICATORE (1962)
Gabriele Antonini, as Zorro sans mask, is pinned by Claudio Undari. A leading role for a change.

GOLIATH & THE REBEL SLAVE (1963)
Ombretta Colli as Princess Cori and Gabriele Antonini as Alexander the Great

REVOLT OF THE BARBARIANS (1964)
Gabriele Antonini and Roland Carey run away from Roman soldiers

COLOSSUS OF ROME (1964)
Gordon Scott burns his hand in defiance as Gabriele Antonini watches on



RIP


Monday, October 8, 2018

By the Gods!

Helga Liné is kidnapped by Milton Reid with Dan Vadis to the rescue in SPARTACUS AND THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964)

This scene is exciting and directed with verve...well, you can see the shadow of the film crew and the tire tracks in this photo but not in the movie itself.


Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian poster

This film was never released in English so there's no 'official' English title for it. In English, the title would be SIGN OF THE AVENGER. This was one of the few leading roles for Gabriele Antonini, who passed away on Saturday. I'll have more on his career tomorrow.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

By the Gods!

Leonora Ruffo and Mark Forest in GOLIATH & THE DRAGON (1960)

Originally, this was a Hercules story but they (distributors) changed it for US market and added a dragon. I never understood why they renamed Mark's character. Hercules was a very popular. It's sorta a wild film, with quasi-experimental camera work and direction by Vittorio Cottafavi. With the crazy special effects and added dragon scenes, the kids who watched it back then experienced a somewhat surreal, psychedelic movie.

NEL SEGNO DI ROMA (Sign of the Gladiator; Eng subs)


Italian version of SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR with English subs. Some of the subtitle text are missing but in general the text is easy to follow. With Anita Edberg, Georges Marchal, Jacques Sernas and more.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

By the Gods!

Massimo Girotti in THE IRON CROWN (1941)

Massimo played two roles in this fantastic film: The hero and his father, who, as seen in this screenshot, is killed early on in the story. A magical film which, remarkably enough, was re-edited for the English version (this copy was from the UK) and the changes are an improvement. In fact, there are scenes in this UK copy that are not in the Italian version.


Behind-the-Scenes

Dominique Boschero and Georges Marchal prepare a scene in ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES (1962). I don't know if the man in the sunglasses is the director Mario Caiano.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

By the Gods!

Alberto Lupo (in green) participates in a torture scene in THE MINOTAUR (1960)

I'm always amazed by the number of torture scenes in PEPLUM films. It's one of many 'questionable' elements that the genre got away with. I've already written about it in the REAL PEPLUM X article on the left hand menu but scenes like this one wouldn't make it in 'family' films of today. I guess people generally didn't take these movies seriously and violent moments were overlooked since they took place in some mythological setting or something like that.

Non-PEPLUM PEPLUM films


HECTOR THE MIGHTY (1972) is a "raunchy sex comedy/modernization of the HELEN OF TROY (or Iliad) story set in contemporary times." As one can see below, the opening credits show, in great details, the name of the mythical characters and the actors playing them in modern times. Not a PEPLUM film in the classic sense but still a PEPLUM one nonetheless, certainly with such a cast that includes Rosanna Schiaffino.