Wednesday, April 18, 2018

By the Gods!

Hercules (Steve Reeves) bending steel in order to remind him that he's Hercules in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

Many people today ridicule these scenes as old fashioned, always shouting out that it's not real steel being bent and yet they have no problems with CGI effects, which are 100% fake. Anyway, this is a popular cliché which is part of the whole PEPLUM mystique. Can't have a beefy super strong hero not end up bending something during the story.


Kirk Douglas and Sylvana Mangano chat during a break of filming ULYSSES (1954)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

By the Gods!

Errol Flynn and Gina Lollobrigida in CROSSED SWORDS (1954)

Flynn, who was 45 when he made this, was still young enough and dashing enough for some sword action. Unfortunately, in just five years Flynn would die from a heart attack. Gina starred with many older Hollywood actors at the start of her career. She clearly wasn't a flash in the pan. She apparently learned fencing for this lush production.

Then & Now : Paola Pitti

Paola in THE SPARTAN GLADIATORS (1964); a recent photo of the Italian actress

(I'm reposting this because I had to delete the original post since it was being spammed like crazy!)

Monday, April 16, 2018

By the Gods!

Silvana Mangano as Penelope in ULYSSES (1954)

An early entry in the Italian made PEPLUM genre. I like everything about this (cast, costumes, sets, etc). Silvana is great in a dual role of Penelope and Circe. I only have two big reservations about this: it's way too short (while the TV mini-series that came a decade later was too long). And Kirk Douglas as Ulysses. I'm certain that having Kirk Douglas cast in the main role helped the film to get made (and sorta helped spearhead the PEPLUM genre in Italy, along with other factors) but I think Kirk as Ulysses was a bit of miscasting. And those two aspects are big liabilities, not minor ones one can easily overlook. So close and yet so far.

Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian poster of THE WARRIOR AND THE SLAVE GIRL (1958)

Nice art even if the artist's representation of both Marchal and Canale are a bit off. The original title translates as THE REVOLT OF THE GLADIATORS. I don't how US distributors came up with the English title.


Starring Steve Reeves, Valérie Lagrange and Chelo Alonso. This film is blocked on Youtube. I can only upload the trailer or short clips from it.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

By the Gods!

I'm taking some time off. I'll be back next Monday. In the meantime keep an eye on PEPLUM TV, PEPLUM TV RETRO, PEPLUM TV FIRE & SWORD and PEPLUM TV WORLD. I'll be uploading stuff to the channels during my blog break.

Thanks to all of those who support this blog and my Youtube channels, and a special thanks to the following:

Jeremy C., Nathalie M.,  Steven Lester,  Shiraz K., Stefanie S.,  Thomas G K. and William N..

PS : If any PEPLUM star die while I'm away, R.I.P..

PEPLUM TV RETRO: Drugging the hero! - PEPLUM Cliché + poll

One of the most common PEPLUM clichés!




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Question to subscribers and fans: Do you like PELUM TV compilations / clichés like 'Drugging the hero' one I just uploaded to PEPLUM TV RETRO? Leave comments if you want to explain your vote. (BTW, I'll keep doing them no matter the results).

Take the poll!

Friday, April 6, 2018

What's your favourite Reg Park PEPLUM film?

HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS (Hercules & the Captive Women)



HERCULES - PRISONER OF EVIL (Ursus & the Terror of the Kirghiz)


Monday, April 2, 2018

Article of the week: The making of THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS Fan Dub

Posted at the 'Articles of the week' permanent page.

One of the most frustrating things about being a North American fan of the PEPLUM genre is the lack of quality transfers of old favourites, on DVD or in digital format. For example, trying to find a perfect, uncut copy of HERCULES (1958) is nearly impossible. There as many version of that film as there are different languages. There is not one source where someone can find the integral versions of these  titles. One of the solutions for this is to create a Fan Dub. A few months ago I decided to make a Fan Dub of THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS (1958) since there isn't one complete version available anywhere.

Presently, I have 4 different versions in my collection: The US 'full screen' version. Two 'Fan Dubs' in English from a French TV broadcast (they differ from their aspect ratios), and lastly, an Italian widescreen version from a TV broadcast. The opening credits for this version is in Arabic. Why? I dunno. These are the 4 versions which I'll be using to make the final version. For obvious reasons, I've decided to use the widescreen Italian TV broadcast version.

Screenshot of opening credits of the 4 different versions:

On the left: the two French versions with English audio track. The top right is the US English full-screen version. And the one at the bottom right is the widescreen Italian TV broadcast version (with credits in Arab!).

A 'Fan Dub' is a movie made with the video of one source and the audio from another source edited together to make a version that’s not available anywhere. I’ve already written an extensive article on how I create a Fan Dub. I won’t go through the details again. For this article, I’ll just demonstrate how difficult it is to make a Fan Dub of a specific title, this one being THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS (1958). Released the same year as HERCULES (1958), with both films starring Gianna Maria Canale and Sylva Koscina, this movie is, along with HERCULES, one of the seminal films which forever changed the way pulpy historical movies were made back in the 1950s. Its impact is not as wide and far reaching as the Steve Reeves epic but still it was a then modernized approach, shot in color and in widescreen, of making a historical / mythological film under 2 hours without making too many concessions. The great thing about these films, even greater than those made in Hollywood, is that producers and filmmakers had access to real locations and settings Hollywood films could only dream of having. And THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS is one of these films. Beautifully shot in widescreen, with a capable cast, following a typically ‘PEPLUM’ screenplay, the film is a great example of the PEPLUM genre.

The first thing to establish in planning a Fan Dub is to view different versions in order to see which scenes are missing. By watching those 4 different versions simultaneously, I was able to determine that 4 major scenes were missing.

Which one would you prefer to watch?

US English 'full screen' Version 

English Fan Dub full screen version taken from French source

English Fan Dub semi-widescreen version taken from French source

Widescreen Italian TV broadcast (with Arabic opening credits)

Obviously, the last version, the widescreen Italian TV broadcast, is the best version of the 4.

With these 4 different, the main objective was trying to create the most complete version. Here's a quick rundown of these 4 copies.

- US full screen version

This is the first copy I got years ago from another trader. Fuzzy, faded and blurry, this copy is the oldest one from my collection. There are also annoying subtitles.

It’s missing the title in the opening credits. And even though it’s the longest version of all the different copies, at 103 minutes and 29 seconds, it’s, oddly enough, missing a couple of major scenes, mainly the 2 kissing scenes and the dancing scene.

The 2 kissing scenes were blacked out but not cut.

- Two versions in English but with French opening credit

The opening credits are in French but the language spoken is English. I assume these are Fan Dubs. They're almost identical except for the screen aspect ratio and runtime. The one with the wider screen image runs at 88 minutes and 4 seconds, while the more cropped one runs at 87 minutes and 40 seconds. They are incomplete.

- Italian / Arab widescreen version (the one used for the Fan Dub)

This version was most likely taken from an Italian TV broadcast since the copy has some scrolling text at the bottom of the screen during 3 different moments. I had to crop the text out (illustrated below). The question is: if this one was from an Italian TV broadcast, why are the opening credits in Arab?

The running time of this one is at 98 minutes and 22 seconds.

Final assessment:

You can ask why not use one of the English versions? Why make a Fan Dub when there are already two adequate versions in English?

Well, first, those copies are incomplete and their aspect ratio aren't good. The aspect ratio and image quality of the widescreen Italian TV broadcast blew those two away. I had no choice but to use the Italian one.

So, after watching the different versions, I was able to see what scenes were missing from the widescreen Italian TV broadcast version.

The scenes missing in two versions (including the one I was going to use as the main source) were kissing scenes and a sexy dance number. Those scenes were missing from the Italian one, and oddly enough, from the English full screen version as well. In the Italian one, the kissing scenes and the dance number were entirely cut. But in the English 'Full Screen' version, the kissing scenes fade to black while the audio can still be heard (this is something I've never seen before), while the dance number is entirely cut.

To make things even more bizarre, the kissing scene between Francesco Rabal and Sylva Koscina are in the two French versions, but the kissing scene between Gianna Maria Canale and Rik Battalia is missing from all 4 copies.

Since the goal of was to use the widescreen Italian TV broadcast as the main file, I had to:

- remove the Arabic open credits and replace it with an altered French version with English title

- Re-insert the missing scenes, including the kissing scenes and the dance number

- Remove scrolling text from TV broadcast

- Fix audio (not illustrated for this article)

First: New Opening Credit

The first thing I did was to create an opening credit with English title and remove the Arabic credits from the widescreen Italian TV broadcast version.

I couldn't redo the entire opening credits in English because it would have taken way too much time to achieve this. I simply inserted the English title to the French opening credit. It was easy to do: a Photoshop file converted into a movie file.

Credit an opening credit:

Second: Add Cut Kissing Scenes

Second thing to do is to find the most complete kissing scene and insert them in the widescreen Italian version. The kissing scene in the image below is from the 'English Fan Dub semi-widescreen version taken from French source.'

Kiss number 1:

The second kissing between Gianna Maria Canale and Rik Battaglia is incomplete in all 4 versions but in the US English version the scene fades to black but we can still hear the audio. See the Youtube clip below.

Kiss number 2:

Scene is cut not by it being edited out the scene but by fading it to black, while the audio can still be heard. It must have been a hot kiss for it to be censored this way!

Since this kissing scene was cut from all 4 versions, I had to make sure the moments before and after were the most complete.

Third: Add Dance Number

This dance number was cut in two versions, the US English full screen version and the widescreen Italian TV broadcast. I took this scene from the 'English Fan Dub semi-widescreen version taken from French source.'

Fourth: Remove Scrolling Text

The fourth and final thing to do was to remove the scrolling text seen during the run of the film. The scrolling text (in Italian) tells me that this was from a TV broadcast.

Though not a major issue, it's annoying to see scolling text while watching a film. Above is how the text looked like. Below is the same scene with the text removed. And below that is a GIF animation showing before and after. Note that the image is stretch while maintaining same aspect ratio.

All those modified scenes above had to be inserted in the main timeline of the edited movie.

And here's a presentation of the end result.

In the timeline:

In Yellow: new opening credit.

In Orange: scrolling text removed

In Blue: missing kissing scenes inserted

In Green: dance scene inserted to timeline

The final result is the most complete version of THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS available anywhere. The only scene missing is the second kissing scene with Canale and Battaglia (plus a few seconds shaved off here and there to make the audio match the image).

Posted at the 'Articles of the week' permanent page.

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Movie Poster Mondays

Spanish poster of THE TROJAN HORSE (1961)

Great poster!


Starring Gordon Mitchell, Roger Browne and a host of other actors. Proof that the English version exists.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

By the Gods!

Jesus (Claude Heater) crucified in BEN-HUR (1959)

It was traditional for films featuring Jesus to keep his face hidden. I sorta understand that. What actor can be pious enough to play Jesus? Though there were films made during the silents era which showed Jesus, more modern films like KING OF KINGS and THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD broke that tradition once and for all.

For those who celebrate the holiday, have a happy and blessed Easter!

The Ten Commandments tomorrow on ABC

Charlton Heston as Moses

For those in the US and Canada, don't forget to watch THE TEN COMMANDMENTS Saturday on ABC, 7:00 pm EST. It's an annual tradition.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

By the Gods!

Gianna Maria Canale and Rik Battaglia are about to kiss in THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS (1958)

Next week, I'll write about this film and the missing kissing scenes, certainly this one. From the looks of it, the two were supposed to kiss but it was cut in all the versions that I have in my collection. The English full screen version fades to black but the audio is still present. The black screen remains for 14 seconds with swirling romantic music. What happened to this kissing scene?


Starring Gordon Mitchell, Scilla Gabel, Roger Browne, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart and other Italian actors. Directed by Michele Lupo.

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Preview starring Isabelle Corey, Massimo Girotti, Gianni Rizzo

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French version of CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER starring Debra Paget, Ettore Manni and Erno Crisa. Nice widescreen version, a bit blurry. A sharper version of this would make a great Fan Dub copy.

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Trailer for SEVEN SEAS TO CALAIS starring Rod Taylor

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Starring Linda Cristal, Pierre Brice, John Drew Barrymore and Armando Francioli. This is the 'full screen' version I have.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

By the Gods!

Michèle Morgan and cast in FABIOLA (1949)

One of the misconceptions of the re-emergence of the PEPLUM genre is that it started with the success of Hollywood productions like SAMSON & DELILAH (1949) and continued on QUO VADIS (1951) when in Europe the genre was also a hot commodity with successful films like FABIOLA or MESSALINA (1951). And since QUO VADIS and other Hollywood productions were made in Italy (BEN-HUR, LAND OF THE PHARAOHS, to name a few), it was only normal that the genre would eventually explode into what it became a few years afterwards. So the re-emergence of the genre wasn't only a Hollywood thing. Originally at 164 minutes, the film was released in the US two years later, in 1951, at 98 min. Michèle passed away in 2016. 


Steve Reeves in attendance at the French premiere of THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1959)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

By the Gods!

Georges Marchal enters the arena in THE WARRIOR AND THE SLAVE GIRL (1958)

Directed by Vittorio Cottafavi, this early entree in the 'new' style PEPLUM films (along with HERCULES) was a showcase of stand-out scenes, certainly this one. We see Marchal exiting the gladiator quarters and enter the arena, in one straight shot, as the camera follows him from behind giving a vivid impression of the location / setting. It brings the audience right in the middle of the action. One of the best shots ever. Cottafavi was the most experimental director of the PEPLUM genre and this 1950s production is a good example. Some scenes might fall flat while others, like this one, stand-out from the rest.

Blog notes

I'm taking some time off starting next week. I've been blogging non-stop since January. It's been a very busy period, more so than any other time since I created the blog back in 2010.

I need to take some time off to focus on many things, mainly my PEPLUM TV channels. I've undertaken a lot since my last break: new Youtube channels, THE SINNER fotonovela, reviews, etc.

All of these things will resume after the break, including THE SINNER serialization. I'm not abandoning it.

Articles will still be posted while I'm away (wait and see).


Daily views for the blog have grown exponentially, which is good but also not so good in that I feel that I need to work more now. It gets 2000 views a day!

Add this to the Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr views and the daily views reach nearly 8000 a day! Twitter alone gets nearly 2000 impressions a day.

One of the negative aspects of higher views is more spamming. If you look at the left hand side, at the most popular posts, the 'Then & Now: Paola Pitti' one is quickly gaining ground. Why? I dunno but that post is being bombarded by spam on a daily basis, even with the blogs spam filter on. It's the most bizarre thing ever! See below for examples of this spamming.

Since all of this is a one-man show, I'm thinking of maybe finding someone to assist me. The issue is money, of course. And control over content, which I like to have.

Youtube channels

All my Youtube channels are going great, certainly the main one. The stats are amazing.

My new 3 channels, PEPLUM TV RETRO, PEPLUM TV WORLD and PEPLUM TV FIRE & SWORD are doing good.

Unfortunately, while I created these new channels, Youtube changed their policies making it harder to have a fully certified and monetized channel. One of the prerequisites: a channel needs to have over 1000 subscribers to be even considered (and then it still might not be accepted). Because of this there's some delay in uploads and stuff (even though I've uploaded tons since their initial creation).

The list of titles blocked or claimed by others on Youtube is an issue. For example, I've wanted to upload some movies for Easter and most of the titles which deal with the reincarnation of Jesus are blocked, claimed or not available.

I'm trying to find alternatives. Dailymotion doesn't seem to gather many visitors so that might not work in the long run.

There's something called BitChute, which is a 'peer to peer' site that can be viewed like Youtube. The site is still in the process of trying to figure out how to run things so I'll wait until things are legit before joining them (if ever).

There are additional frustrating things about Youtube, aside from their crazy policies these days everyone hates.

One of the most frustrating thing is finding 'dead' Youtube channels (it's literally a cemetery out there), abandoned for a long time (maybe due to the fear of getting strikes) and a lot of these dead channels always have one or two PEPLUM movies which have garnered amazing number of views. This makes my task in uploading original 'new' content that much harder since dozens and dozens of 'dead' channels have these titles already monopolizing viewership. One such 'dead' channel has GOLIATH & THE SINS OF BABYLON with over 5 million views. Why bother uploading it to my channel, right?

Well, no. I think of my channels as one-stop place where everyone can view movies under the PEPLUM TV brand. Also, I try to upload the best quality available (with Fan Dubs and stuff) so I can still have an edge over them. The problem really (and this really irks me) is that those dead channels uploaded specific titles when movies weren't blocked but have become blocked since, meaning I can't upload titles because claims / copyrights have changed so often in the past 5 to 10 years. For instance, I can't upload SON OF SAMSON but some channels have that movie because they were uploaded before changes to claims took effect. It's a strange state of limbo.

And finally, there's a major issue with my videos and with Youtube, and some others channels which I can't talk about (without giving them free publicity). It's an annoying and stupid situation, and adds needless frustration, more so since I can't talk about it.

On a side note, here's a graph showing the PEPLUM TV Youtube channel demographics:

The channel is overwhelmingly viewed by men, with women making just a small percentage of viewership.

Other PEPLUM stuff

The list of books covering the subject of the PEPLUM genre keeps growing to the point of saturation. This is sad because I'm seriously thinking of writing my own book.

Most of these new books are disappointing (which is no surprise, really).

The blog's far reaching success (there were few PEPLUM books before the blog came along) seems to have given the impression to a lot of authors out there that they can cover this subject in a superficial manner and that's good enough since the no one takes the genre seriously. These books need to pass the smelling test, and as the creator of this blog, the information in these books is often quite pitiful.

I'll compile all the books out there (or those that I've purchased) and review them for an 'Article of the week.'