Tuesday, April 25, 2017

By the Gods!

A scene from SPARTACUS (1960)

A combination matte painting and set, the set being the part with the actors walking about. The intro shot of Rome for this film is great but subsequent matte works during the course of the film weren't up to the quality of the first one. The perspective is a little off here.

Upcoming film : MARY MAGDALENE


A new MARY MAGDALENE film is set to be release later on this year. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus, and Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene! Joaquin as Jesus? Will this be a hipster version of the story between Christ and the prostitute he saved? Below is a behind-the-scenes photo of the filming, with Rooney taking a cigarette puff while (I assume) is a waiting Joaquin on the cross. 


The story of Mary Magdalene was made before, starring Yvonne de Carlo as Mary. It was called THE  SWORD & THE CROSS or simply MARY MAGDALENE (1958 ; 1960 in the US).






Monday, April 24, 2017

By the Gods!

Cleopatra (Sophia Loren) chats with her handmaiden Dedit (Cristina Fantoni) in TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA (1954)

AIDA (1953) was Sophia's first leading role but it was a musical in which she lip-synched to opera. It wasn't really a role in which she had to recite her lines. TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA is considered Sophia's first dramatic (or in this case, comedic) leading role. It opened many doors to many more leading roles. Loren plays two characters, sorta like identical twins, in this fun but not uproariously funny film. Fantoni also starred along with Loren in ATTILA (1954) but her career didn't go beyond the 1950s.

Movie Poster Mondays

French poster for ALONE AGAINST ROME (1962)

Action packed artwork. Rossana sorta looks sunburned there. Not a flattering rendering.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

By the Gods!

Hercules (Steve Reeves) trying to secretly enter Thebes via a river in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

Whenever I see scenes like this one in old movies, I always wonder how polluted the water was and how bad it might have been for the actors. The story's setting might take place thousands of years ago, when most rivers were clean, but the film itself was shot in the 1950s, when regulations were lax. Reeves is almost always working in and around some river / sea setting in practically all his films. He must have been weary about this.

Video of the week : THE TEN GLADIATORS - Fight!



The Dailymotion video of the week :

Fight scene from THE TEN GLADIATORS (1963) starring Mimmo Palmara, Roger Browne and Arnaldo Fabrizio

(I couldn't upload this scene at Youtube)

Video of the week : REVENGE OF THE GLADIATORS - Trailer


The Youtube Video of the week :

Trailer for THE REVENGE OF THE GLADIATORS (1964) starring Gordon Mitchell, Scilla Gabel and Roger Browne. Also known as Revenge of Spartacus.

I've uploaded several trailers the PEPLUM TV channel.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

By the Gods!

Mark Antony (Raymond Burr) and Cleopatra (Rhonda Fleming) enjoy a feast / entertainment in SERPENT OF THE NILE (1953)

A low budget epic directed by William Castle and released by Columbia Pictures. Burr is a sorta interesting casting choice for Mark Antony but Rhonda, who made a couple of other PEPLUM films, is totally miscast as Cleopatra. She just doesn't get the role. It's a fun film to watch but it doesn't have much to do with the real Cleopatra. Just a Hollywood's idea of the legendary Egyptian Queen. Castle would fare much better with SLAVES OF BABYLON (1953).


Behind-the-Scenes

Elizabeth Taylor's screentest for QUO VADIS (1951)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

By the Gods!

Rome seen in THE ROBE (1953)

A matte painting with only the shimmering water and people walking about at the far right being real elements. A nice image but they could have added a few people traipsing about to give it more realism. This scene lasts just a few seconds. A lot of work for a brief moment.

Different titles : CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER

Here's a good example of how the PEPLUM genre is besetted by so-called cinematic confusion : the original Italian title for CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER is IL SEPOLCRO DEI RE, which translated in English is THE TOMB OF THE KINGS. The official International English title was THE DAUGHTER OF CLEOPATRA, not CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER. The film was released in 1960. In the original Italian version, Debra Paget doesn't play Cleopatra's daughter. The story had nothing to do with Cleopatra.

But then news of Elizabeth Taylor was to star in a new super-production about the life of Cleopatra and Italian producers took notice. Since IL SEPOLCRO DEI RE was made first, producers / distributors made some modifications to the script and Debra Paget now became the daughter of Cleopatra. This newly dubbed version was released in 1963 in the US to capitalize on Taylor's CLEOPATRA (1963).

Aside from this tidbit of information, none of the titles match the original Italian title.

US / British version :



Hong Kong version :

THE TOMB OF THE PHARAOHS (there's a spelling mistake in the title)

French version :

THE VALLEY OF THE PHARAOHS


Monday, April 17, 2017

By the Gods!

Debra Paget tries to hypnotize a cobra in JOURNEY TO THE LOST CITY (1960)

Directed by Fritz Lang. This is actually a condensed version of two films, TIGER OF BENGAL (1959) and THE INDIAN TOMB (1959), edited down to JOURNEY TO THE LOST CITY by American International Pictures. There were many such German-produced films, that always started in modern times with the main characters ending up in some exotic setting. It was sold by AIP as Sinbad-like adventure. The film is gorgeous but it was shot in standard 4:3 aspect Ratio, not in widescreen, which gives the film an unfortunately dated feel. Paget made several PEPLUM films, including THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) and CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER (see post below). This dance is eye popping because she's nearly nude.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster of CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER (1960)

Good poster for a good film. I got a new version of this and though the image is still not as pristine as a HD transfer, it's better than the murky US one. A little gem of a film.

Friday, April 14, 2017

By the Gods!

Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton) is haunted by the crucifixion of Jesus in THE ROBE (1953)

The first studio film shot and released in CinemaScope! A classic film. Since Easter weekend is upon us, I'll wish a happy Easter weekend to all of those who are believers, followers (and also non-believers)!

(You'd think this film would be the one they'd show every year on TV and not THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, which is about Moses and not Jesus. Oh well...)

The Ten Commandments tomorrow on ABC

"Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid adorable fool!" 

For those in the US and Canada, don't forget to watch THE TEN COMMANDMENTS Saturday on ABC, 7 pm EST. Starring, among others, super camp Anne Baxter and Charlton Heston. It's an annual tradition!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

By the Gods!

Maciste (Mark Forest) seduces Queen Smedes (Chelo Alonso) in SON OF SAMSON (1960)

This is a good PEPLUM flick with yet another questionable title (Maciste is NOT the son of Samson). It was Chelo's birthday this past Monday. I usually don't celebrate birthdays here at the blog because 1) it would be too time consuming to track the date of births of ALL the actors and directors, and 2) most of them are dead. In this case, both Mark and Chelo are still with us. She's 84 years old. Happy belated birthday, Chelo!

Video of the week : HERCULES VS ANTAEUS!


Fight scene from HERCULES THE AVENGER starring Reg Park and Giovanni Cianfriglia

Hercules vs Antaeus! One of the best fights!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

By the Gods!

Claudia (Gianna Maria Canale) wants to buy a slave (Ombretta Colli) from soldier (Giovanni Cianfriglia) in THE SON OF SPARTACUS (aka the Slave ; 1962)

Giovanni was Steve Reeves' main stuntman / body double. They share a brief scene just before this one. It's always funny to see the two together, which happened in a couple of other films. We're introduced to the two main females characters for this film, Ombretta and Gianna Maria. Gianna always makes a great entrance. Her character is sorta unfocused (needed more scenes) but she added so much to the film's overall worth. The film was directed by Sergio Corbucci, who also directed another Steve Reeves films, DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961). I prefer this one over DUEL. As a PEPLUM fan, this one is so much more satisfying.

Behind-the-Scenes

Lou Ferrigno waiting for his cue to jump into action while filming HERCULES (1983)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

By the Gods!

The massive set of Babylon from INTOLERANCE (1916)

The film is over 100 years old. An expensive flop when it was first released, this set, which took a big chunk of the film's then massive budget, is still considered one of the greatest ever built. No CGI. No matte painting. I really like the old storylines in this film, while others prefer the contemporary stories. You can view a HD version on Youtube.


Recreation of Hollywood Romans in 'Ancient Warfare' magazine

© Graham Sumner

Graham Sumner has been writing and illustrating a series of articles on Hollywood Romans for 'Ancient Warfare' magazine. The sample illustration from the series (above), featuring his reconstruction of the costumes from 'THE ROBE' (1953). Graham, who is a fan of this blog, contacted me and asked if I could post something about his work in 'Ancient Warfare' magazine. Graham hopes to assemble all his work together and publish a book.

For comparison, here's a screenshot from the film.


Monday, April 10, 2017

By the Gods!

Lorella De Luca and Yvonne Furneaux in CHARGE OF THE BLACK LANCERS (1962)

This is a pretty solid film with one big liability : very few close-ups. Like so many other films released during the PEPLUM explosion, the focus on the use of widescreen often meant few close-ups, and this production is a great example. It's very frustrating, for many reasons, but certainly because Yvonne is such a beautiful woman who should be seen up close. Lorella De Luca appeared in other PEPLUM films. She played Bathsheba in SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR (1958).

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster for THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS (1958)

I like this. This is a 'fotobusta' style poster (a wild collage of photos and imagery). Perfectly captures the film.

Friday, April 7, 2017

By the Gods!

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

I have 4 different copies of this film : US version, British TV broadcast version, Italian version and French version. This screenshot is from the French copy. The best, in terms of image quality, is the British TV broadcast. Beautiful transfer. Unfortunately, some scenes were cut, including this pivotal scene! I couldn't take a screenshot of it since they cut it. Those kookie British Broadcasters! Very frustrating!

The film is also known as HERO OF ROME but I prefer COLOSSUS OF ROME because, well, it's more Colossus. Anyway, good film!

Retro Friday : COLOSSUS OF RHODES

(originally posted November 2011)

The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the wonders of the world. It stood for 54 years before a big earthquake toppled it down. According to historians, Ptolemy III offered to pay for the reconstruction of the statue, but the oracle of Delphi made the Rhodians afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it.

Here's a brief overview of the legendary statue :


The Colossus from COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1961) directed by Sergio Leone


There were plans of recreating the Colossus a few years ago and this was one of the designs. I don't know the status of the project.

Here are other artists' conceptions of the once wonder of the world :










...and for something cheeky, there's the NSFW anatomically correct Colossus...to view click here

Thursday, April 6, 2017

By the Gods!

Dwayne Johnson as Hercules in HERCULES (2014)

I have yet to see this movie. I'm afraid it's going to be as bad as EXODUS: GODS & KINGS. The big problem I have is that Dwayne doesn't look like Hercules. A barbarian, yes, but not the legendary son of Zeus. The film wasn't a success so don't expect any sequels. Why does Hollywood (not Italy) have such a difficult time in making a proper Hercules film? It's a true cultural blind spot.

Video of the week : Evening Star from HERCULES UNCHAINED



In HERCULES UNCHAINED, there's a scene when Iole (Sylva Koscina) sings Evening Star while Hercules (Steve Reeves) takes a nap. This clip shows the English and Italian versions.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

By the Gods!


A scene from WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970)

Trying to figure who's who with this cast is difficult since they all look alike. Robin Hawdon is the fellow in the middle (or is the one lying down?). I recently got a HD version of this. Interesting companion to ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.. Watching it in HD is sorta good and bad. The details are an eyeful, certainly with the mostly near-nude cast, and also with the special effects by Jim Danforth which still hold up quite nicely today but in other scenes, the studio bound settings are quite obvious and it's sorta cringeworthy. Since dinosaurs and humans didn't co-exist, this is more a fantasy than anything else. Every type of PEPLUM cliché is used : sacrificial offerings, washing up on the beach, the raft, etc. Check out the blog's permanent page of PEPLUM clichés to see what I mean.

Behind-the-Scenes - video edition


A compilation of behind-the-scenes clips from various PEPLUM films, including GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS starring Steve Reeves and Chelo Alonso, and also KINDAR THE INVULNERABLE starring Mark Forest.

(I didn't upload this video)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

By the Gods!

Pythias (Don Burnett) arrives at a port in DAMON & PYTHIAS (1962)

Excellent matte painting combined with location filming in Terracina, Italy. I like these scenes. They're subtle, not showy and yet they give a much needed sense of location to a story.


Blog notes re: Youtube and video clips / movies


Unless you've been living under a rock but right now Youtube is a complete mess. The Wall Street Journal recently published two articles targeting the popular social media website. Because of these articles, Youtube is cracking down on anything that might be deemed offensive, which basically covers everything, including my PEPLUM TV channel.

I first noticed problems when I uploaded SAPPHO - THE VENUS OF LESBOS and got a warning from Youtube claiming that monetizing the film was removed because the upload was not 'advertiser friendly.' The words 'Sappho,' 'Venus' and 'Lesbos' were probably picked up by their algorithm system as being pornographic, even though there's nothing pornographic about the legendary Greek poetess Sappho. Advertiser Friendly apparently means anything not for kids is suspect and ads from companies like Coca-Cola or McDonalds have been pulled until Youtube finds a solution for them to control the content of creators and what they upload better than they do right now.

As in what happened with SAPPHO, many of my uploads from my previous versions of my PEPLUM TV channel have been barred, for a number of reasons. This is limiting the number of clips and movies I can upload there. I recently uploaded SADKO, a Russian film. It also came with a warning. I'm fine with this particular film since its appeal is limited but clips that I've been sharing for years, which are now barred and I cannot share with my followers, well, I'm not happy about this. This is just one annoying aspect of the current Youtube.

The second annoying aspect of Youtube is this : my channel, like so many channels from other Youtubers, is nonexistent under Restricted Mode. If you're not familiar with this, Youtube has two modes : Restricted Mode on or off. If a channel is viewable set under 'on,' it's deemed kid and family friendly, i.e. videos about cats. When a channel is considered adult, like mine, it's only viewable to visitors if Restricted Mode is turned off at their account. Most people are not aware of this. If you visit my Youtube channel with Restricted Mode turned on, no videos at my channel will show up. I assume that most of my new subscribers know this and they have Restricted Mode turned off in their accounts. What exactly does this mean in the grand scheme of things? It means that anyone who's under 18 cannot view my channel because it can only be viewed with Restricted Mode off and Youtubers 18 years and under are not able to do this. This even if all these clips and movies I upload were made 50 years ago and kids could see them no problems back in da day.

It's one of the reasons why I resurrected my old Dailymotion channel which I let go for a couple of years. Since Youtube is being so problematic, I might upload clips and films there that Youtube have blocked at my PEPLUM TV channel. Not everything. Just those blocked at Youtube. Personally speaking, I would rather have everything under one channel but during these existential moments  Youtube is currently experiencing. which is affecting so many people, that this might be a good, if temporary, solution for now. So expect a few clips and maybe movies at Dailymotion (until they too get the same treatment as Youtube).

I don't make any money from this blog. I do this purely for my dedicated to the PEPLUM genre, which I love. The blog gets over 1000 up to 1500 hits a day. It's the most visited blog on the internet covering the PEPLUM genre. I love doing this but these continual strikes against my work at the Youtube channel is getting to me. I started my first PEPLUM channel at Youtube back in 2007. I lost 5 channels with their constant meddling. The current one is going strong and I try not to upload anything that might get it closed again but at the moment, like so may other Youtubers caught in this situation, I'm thinking of starting a Patreon crowdfunding page, to help keep this blog going strong, and keep PEPLUM TV running smoothly. More about this in upcoming posts.


Monday, April 3, 2017

By the Gods!

 Christine Kaufmann (with Barbara Carroll) in THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1959)

Christine died last Monday at the age of 72. Christine starred in a couple of other PEPLUM films, including CONSTANTINE & THE CROSS (1961) and TARAS BULBA (1962), which starred her future husband Tony Curtis. Her most famous PEPLUM role though would always be in POMPEII.


Steve Reeves with Christine in THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster of ALI BABA & THE SEVEN SARACENS (1964)

In the original version, Ali Baba was Sindbad. It didn't make much difference since the story takes place entirely of terra ferma, which me wonder why they called it Sindbad in the first place. Poster art captures the spirit of the film.