Wednesday, May 24, 2017

By the Gods!

Cleopatra (Vivien Leigh) and Rufio (Basil Sydney) await the departure of Caesar (Claude Rains) in CAESAR & CLEOPATRA (1945)

As noted in the post below, Roger Moore is supposed to be in this film. There are some scenes with Roman soldiers and I scanned them. Is that Roger behind Vivien? It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Roger might have worked on the film as an extra but it doesn't mean he appears on screen.

As I've said many times before here at the blog, I like this film. In fact, this was the film that made me love the genre before learning all about Italian PEPLUM films. I know it's not perfect by any means but I still enjoy it, mainly for its opulent production values.

RIP : Roger Moore

Roger Moore died on Monday, May 23. He was 89. Though he'll be remembered for playing James Bond in 7 films and also having the lead role in the THE SAINT TV series, Roger wasn't a stranger to the PEPLUM genre. In fact, his very first role was appearing as an extra playing a Roman soldier in CAESAR & CLEOPATRA (1945). It's amazing that he was still Bond in the 1980s 40 years after his first film.

DIANE (1955)
A fresh-faced Roger is entangled in a love affair with Lana Turner. Good film!

Roger co-starred with PEPLUM star Edmund Purdom (left)


Roger was Romulus in this comedy set during the first days of Rome. Scilla Gabel was one of his love interests (above). Roger looked the part but the PEPLUM genre wasn't his calling.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

By the Gods!

Brad Harris and Mara Lane in THE OLD TESTAMENT (1962)

Director Gianfranco Parolini directed this somewhat overlooked film. Parolini often worked with Brad Harris. This includes the KOMMISSAR X Eurospy series they made together. Aside from FURY OF HERCULES, which his least 'stunning' looking film, almost all of his PEPLUM productions are beautifully shot, such as this one and his masterpiece, 79 AD : THE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULANEUM. His films looked like tableaux. Parolini is still alive today.

Different titles : WAR GODS OF BABYLON

Here's a quick overview of the titles for WAR GODS OF BABYLON (1962). The interesting about this title is how it the English title differs from the Italian and French. WAR GODS seems to be selling someone big and war-like when it fact it's just a threesome of two brothers of a royal family fighting over a woman. It's seems 'thunderbolt' wasn't a strong enough selling point for US distributors.


English title


Monday, May 22, 2017

By the Gods!

Kirk Morris and Rosalba Neri in DESERT RAIDERS (1964)

A sometimes hard to find film in its original format. I have it and created a 'FanSub.' It's not as fun as Kirk's other desert adventure, MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE THUNDERING ECHOES (aka Hercules of the Desert) but it's good. Coming soon to PEPLUM TV.

Movie Poster Mondays

German poster of THE OLD TESTAMENT (1962)

Eye popping poster with a good rendition of Brad Harris. This is another good looking overlooked PEPLUM from director Gianfranco Parolini.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

By the Gods!

Steve Reeves, as Aeneas, with Benito Stefanelli directly behind him, in WAR OF THE TROJANS (1962)

The image above is fuzzy because it's a screenshot taken from a poor French copy I recently found on them interwebs. I took a screenshot of this because it has Benito Stefanelli and Steve in the same frame. For PEPLUM fans, Benito was in THE TROJAN HORSE (1961). He was one of Aeneas' nemesis and they have a cool confrontation (clip below). In this sequel, Benito plays another character and he's a good guy.

After I took the above screenshot, I left it on my computer desktop, to be posted later. When I decided to post it today, I tried to search for a clearer shot of this in the 5 different copies I have and I couldn't find it. And then I realized that this scene is cut from the US, British, Italian and Spanish versions. It's only available in the fuzzy French version I just found! Eureka! Sometimes I feel like I'm an archeologist.

Youtube video of the week : SALAMMBO - Intruder

Clip from Salammbo starring Jacques Sernas and Jeanne Valerie.

Contains all the necessary ingredients for a PEPLUM film : underwater scene, buff Sernas fighting a lion, climbing walls, ravishing Salammbo, fighting the brawny guards. The best moment in this wildly uneven epic.

Youtube blocked this in France and its colonies.

Dailymotion video of the week : CLASH OF STEEL - Preview

Clip from Le Chevalier de Pardaillan, known as CLASH OF STEEL in English. It stars Gérard Barray, Gianna Maria Canale and Kirk Morris. It's in French.

Fun scene! Yes, that's Gianna's real voice. She spoke Italian, English and French!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

By the Gods!

Gustavo Rojo and Silvana Pampanini in THE ISLAND PRINCESS (1954)

Gustavo died recently and I didn't include this film with his profile. This is the story of Spain conquering the Canary islands. Interesting history we seldom see this side of the Atlantic. Gustavo made this film after ALEXANDER THE GREAT (1953). It also stars Marcello Mastroianni in a rare PEPLUM role. The big battle at the end was directed by PEPLUM maestro Pietro Francisci. Colourful film even if it's not historically accurate. The bulk of Silvana's roles took place in 1950s. She did some films in the 1960s but sporadically and then retired from the screen. 


Producer Dino De Laurentiis, the recently deceased Michael Parks and director John Huston take a publicity photo for THE BIBLE : IN THE BEGINNING...(1966)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

By the Gods!

Pharaoh Khufu (Jack Hawkins) celebrates the dead with 'thousands' of his people in LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955)

One of the best scenes in this film. In fact, it's one of the best scenes in any PEPLUM film made by Hollywood. It looks and sounds great even 60+ years later. The film's starkness seen at the start eventually gives way to more typical Hollywood drama (mainly provided with the introduction of Joan Collins). Had the film maintained the same approach throughout the film, it would have been a masterpiece. The film wasn't a success and Howard Hawks eventually disowned it, leaving it out from future retrospectives of his career, which, imo, was ridiculous. This was the director's first and last 'epic' film and it does stand out from his other films, which is most likely the real reason why he dismissed it.

IMPERIUM (2012) TV series

A Spanish 6 part TV miniseries made in 2012. It looks good. It's a bit odd to watch a story set in Italy en Español. From the same team that made HISPANIA - LA LEYENDA series. Not to be confused with another short lived TV miniseries called EMPIRE (2005). The entire series is available on Youtube. I don't think it was dubbed in English.


Monday, May 15, 2017

By the Gods!

The beautiful Alessandra Panaro and the handsome Sean Flynn in SON OF CAPTAIN BLOOD (1962)

Panaro and Flynn make a good looking screen couple. Flynn, of course, is the son of Errol Flynn. Sean had a short film career mainly in the PEPLUM / Swashbuckling genre before dying of tragic events. Panaro was a regular star in the genre and has appeared in 3 of my favourite films : ULYSSES VS HERCULES, THE BACCHANTES and HERCULES AGAINST MOLOCH. Love her! She quit full time acting in 1966. She still looks good today. 

The film itself is okay. Production is good but the story lacked focus and the natural disaster during the climax is a quick way of ending a film. It's still fun to watch but don't expect a masterpiece. 

Movie Poster Mondays


Typical low quality poster from Allied Artists. The film is a gorgeous one and this poster certainly doesn't do it justice.

Friday, May 12, 2017

By the Gods!

Maciste (Kirk Morris) meets Fania (Hélène Chanel) in MACISTE IN HELL (1962)

This great film was one of 4 films Kirk and Hélène made together. This is, obviously, their best. Directed by Riccardo Freda. Many people saw a butchered version of this as THE WITCH'S CURSE. Don't watch that version. Watch the complete version, in widescreen, to see how good it is. Kirk is one of the best Maciste. He's perfectly cast in this production. Helene strikes the right note of sinister and sadness. She made several PEPLUM films but never really got the acclaim she deserved. 

Trivia : when Maciste views past events in the pool of fire, they used different clips from different Maciste films. One of them is from SAMSON & THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD, which Hélène also starred. That film was also directed by Freda. 

Retro Friday : The Money in Muscles

(originally posted October 2012)

Click on the article to read them. Good stuff. It's basically what I've been saying since day 1.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

By the Gods!

Hercules (Ahnuld Schwarzenegger) pleads to his father, Zeus (Ernest Graves) to go back down to earth in HERCULES IN NEW YORK (1970)

I wonder where this scene was shot. Obviously it was in NY city but where exactly. A 'Then & Now' would be fun to do. I mean, those bricks didn't exist back in Ancient Greek. That's Tanny McDonald as Juno in the top left and Erica Fitz, as Venus, in the foreground. Ernest Graves is actually not bad as Zeus. Ahnuld's acting though is was his first film!

Youtube video of the week : REVOLT OF THE SLAVES - Slave Trade

Slave trade scene from REVOLT OF THE SLAVES starring Lang Jeffries, Rhonda Fleming and Van Aikens

Great looking film!

Dailymotion video of the week : 79 AD : Second fight!

Second fight scene between Brad Harris and Djordje Nenadovic, as Samson, in 79 AD : THE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULANEUM (1962).

Director Gianfranco Parolini really loved doing these scenes!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

By the Gods!

Michael Parks as Adam in THE BIBLE : THE BEGINNING... (1966)

Michael died on May 10 at the age of 77. His first and biggest role of the PEPLUM genre was playing the one and only Adam, you know the first man created by God. This wasn't the first cinematic representation of Adam and Eve but it's one of the best. When Adam comes to life, from the dust of the earth, the scene is quite good. Ella Bergryd played Eve (below). This was difficult role in more ways than one and IMO it's the best part of this huge film directed by John Huston. RIP.


Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina have fun during a break from filming HERCULES (1958)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

By the Gods!

 The spectacular setting of the chariot race in BEN-HUR (1959)

This shot is a combination set and matte painting. Everything in the middle, including the people in the foreground, are real. The rest is an elaborate matte painting. The big statues in the centre were real. Some of them still exist and can be found somewhere at Cinecittà. The entire scene, from pre-production to the time before they shot it took over a year to prepare. They had to find and train the the horses, the riders, etc. They had to excavate a quarry for the race track. And this is before they actually started filming. The filming of the scene itself took several weeks spread over several months. They were able to find thousands of extras because the economy in Italy was so bad and many people were willing to work for some extra cash. It's one of the most elaborate and complex scenes ever filmed.

Trailers for BAAHUBALI films

Something amazing happened at box office during the past two weeks : a South Indian film made it in the top ten! It's the sequel to BAAHUBALI : THE BEGINNING, called, well, BAAHUBALI 2 : THE CONCLUSION. The first film was released 2 years ago and the trailer (above) is quite amazing and it contains almost every type of cliche found in PEPLUM films. I love it! Now the sequel (the conclusion to the story) is a hit in North America. It even outperformed Tom Hanks' latest film, with a fraction of cinemas.

Indian films and the world of PEPLUM cinema have a long history. Back in the 1960s, when the genre was hot, even India made films inspired by the myth of Hercules or Samson, starring the legendary wrestler Dara Singh.

Note : don't call these 'Bollywood' films.

A scene from BAAHUBALI : THE BEGINNING (2015)

Monday, May 8, 2017

By the Gods!

 Christopher Lee torments Daliah Lavi in THE WHIP & THE FLESH (1963)

Daliah died May 3 at the age of 76. She made few PEPLUM genre films, with this Mario Bava directed gem being her most famous one, and also CYRANO & D'ARTAGNAN (1964). The beautiful star made tons of spy spoofs and even appeared in a James Bond film, CASINO ROYALE (1967). RIP.