Friday, August 31, 2018

PEPLUM Break


I usually take a break every two months! It's that time again.

As a side note, I'll take an extended break in the near future. I need to focus on several projects I'm working on and I need all time I can get, which means a break from the blog.

I'll keep uploading stuff at my PEPLUM TV channels so keep an eye on them.

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


My recent acquisitions


Since my previous post about the books in my library, I've acquired a few additional books and DVDs.

The books:

THE ANCIENT WORLD OF CINEMA by Jon Solomon.

It was pretty cheap: $8 Canadian!!! Anyway, I found glaring mistakes in it when I perused through it. I'll write about this in a later post.


GUIDA AL CINEMA PEPLUM by Oscar Lapena Marchena.

Interesting Italian book (translated from a Spanish book) even though the images/photos are horrid. Cover photo is quite eye catching. LOL!


MUSCLES, MYTHS, AND MOVIES by Stephen Flacassier

Small book (nearly 70 pages long). The author was kind enough to send a free copy of his work. He warned me that this was printed before the age of the internet and it has obvious mistakes in it. I like that each title has a set of 4 icons explaining in images what the films contain: Muscleman, monster, etc. Good idea. I'll write more about this in a future article.


DVDs:

HERCULES French DVD which is the same print as a previous one released several years ago. Disappointing.

SAMSON & THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE French DVD. Excellent release though it doesn't have an English track.

SLAVES OF BABYLON ; Excellent print. Not disappointed by this at all.

And a various different titles from Sinister Cinema. I won't be reviewing these DVDs.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

By the Gods!

Iloosh Khoshabe, Mario Novelli and Ursula Davis (back to us) in THE INVINCIBLE BROTHERS MACISTE (1964)

This is the ending to the film. What do you notice about it? (this includes the shoulder the far right) The woman with her head on Iloosh's shoulder is supposed to be Gian Sandri but it's actually a stand-in. And the shoulder of the man on the far right is supposed to be that of Anthony Steffen but it's also a stand-in (see below ; he doesn't look like Steffen at all). This is not the first time this has happened in a PEPLUM production but it's quite remarkable that not one but two actors went missing. I wonder what happened.




Wednesday, August 29, 2018

By the Gods!

Gordon Scott and Gabriella Pallotta in COLOSSUS OF ROME (aka Hero of Rome; 1964)

The ending to the movie. Don't you miss these types of endings? Many think they're corny but I like them, certainly for this movie after what both characters went through in this excellent PEPLUM directed by Giorgio Ferroni. It's know as HERO OF ROME but in the UK it's known as COLOSSUS OF ROME, which is the literal translation of the original Italian title.

Behind-the-Scenes

Dewey Martin in 1954 posing with a Vespa while in Rome filming LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955)


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

By the Gods!

Anthar (Kirk morris) confronts a rhinoceros in ANTHAR THE INVINCIBLE (1964)

A nice change from the usual 'lions, tigers and bears' variety. This scene is actually pretty well shot. A good, fun film that needs a Fan Dub treatment (yes, I'm working on it). Boneheaded US title: DEVIL OF THE DESERT AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES. The original ANTHAR title is much better.






PEPLUM Location: Monte Gelato waterfalls (2018)


These photos were taken at the Monte Gelato waterfalls this past summer by Alan. These are the famous waterfalls seen in many PEPLUM productions. As you can see the vegetation is overgrown. If a new PEPLUM movie would be made, they have to film a scene there. Thanks to Alan for the photos.




The sign above mentions ROLAND THE MIGHTY (1956), directed by Pietro Francisci, for making the waterfalls famous. Though some movies had filmed there before ROLAND the success of the Francisci production helped put it on the map, with a boatload of other productions following suit.




José Greci and Giuliano Gemma in GOLIATH & THE SINS OF BABYLON (1963) standing in front of the famous Monte Gelato waterfalls.

Monday, August 27, 2018

By the Gods!

Dancers in THE MINOTAUR (1960)

The film starts with this scene (right after the credits). I like this scene. It's a good way to start a movie: show dance number and move on with the story. The dancers are uncredited. I believe the male dancer is the same one seen in THE INVINCIBLE BROTHERS MACISTE. The costumes of the female dancers here also showed up in SAPPHO THE VENUS OF LESBOS.

Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian poster of SAMSON & THE SEA BEAST (1963)

Great poster.A mix of PEPLUM and Swashbuckler.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

By the Gods!

Hector (Jacques Bergerac) and Patrocles (Ennio Girolamo) fight for their lives in FURY OF ACHILLES (1962)

A very good PEPLUM. You know it's good when even Jacques Bergerac, who used to play himself in every film or tv program, gives a good performance. One of the stand-out though his Ennio Girolamo as Patrocles (or Patroclus). This scene is especially riveting. Ennio died a five years ago. A thoroughly enjoyable film with just a few reservations.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

By the Gods!

Goliath (Brad Harris) tries to save his friend, Briseo (José Rubio) in GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS (1961)

I love these scenes. Those 'Improbable Death Contraptions' are unique of the genre. In this one, there's a bunch of slaves being whipped in some separate room, who pull the circular device towards Briseo. It's Goliath's turn to reverse the trajectory of the device, so now it becomes a power struggle between Goliath vs a dozen desperate men. Brilliant! There were those kind of contraptions in old serial films and also in TV series like BATMAN TV series but the ones in PEPLUM films are totally different. I always wonder: who came up with these amazing ideas?

Behind-the-Scenes

Elizabeth Taylor checks her makeup during the filming of CLEOPATRA (1963)


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

By the Gods!

Malisa Longo and Aldo Canti in AMAZONS AGAINST SUPERMEN (1974)

One of many Amazons movie of the early to mid-1970s. This one takes the prize as the oddest one of  the bunch. Amazons, Kung-Fu, PEPLUM elements and Canti playing his usual 'Superman' role, jumping about in acrobatic feats. Nothing like you've ever seen...literally. 

Then & Now: Linda Cristal

Linda in LEGIONS OF THE NILE (1959) ; A recent photo of Linda


Monday, August 20, 2018

By the Gods!

The opening shot from THE ROBE (1953)

There's something very interesting about this shot, which happens at the very start of THE ROBE, as the film introduces CinemaScope. Can someone tell me why?

Movie Poster Mondays

Spanish poster of COLOSSUS OF ROME (aka Hero of Rome ; 1964)

Brutal poster! I have it in my collection.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Blog Note

A note: the Wardrobe Malfunction page has been updated.

I will update it on regular basis.


By the Gods!

Cathia Caro, Luciano Marin and Takis Kavouras in THE GIANTS OF THESSALY (1960)

In this scene, Cathia's character is a stowaway and she expresses her love for Marin who is being punished, as is the character played by Takis (who wanted to rape the stowaway). Both men are tied to the mast while the crew decides on their punishment. 'Tied to the mast' is a definite PEPLUM cliché. I'll make a compilation of this. As a side note, the identity of Takis was unknown for many years (he was credited Taki Karas, many believed was a female name) but thanks to my sleuthing and the help of a few others out there, I was able to determine his identity, mainly from spotting him in other PEPLUM films where he was credited correctly.

Retro Friday: SPARTACUS : through the years

Most people think that Kirk Douglas' interpretation of SPARTACUS (1960) was the very first one ever portrayed on screen. This is incorrect. Here's a quick overview of the actors who played the legendary slave turn rebel since the beginning of cinema.


An actor as Spartacus in the 1830s

Mario Guaita Ausonia played the famous rebel slave in SPARTACO (1913)

Gianna Maria Canale and Massimo Girotti in SPARTARCO (aka SINS OF ROME). One of the best Spartacus films of the bunch. The producers of the Stanley Kubrick production bought the rights to this film in order to keep it out of circulation (out of the public mind) while they prepared their own version.

Kirk Douglas as SPARTACUS (1960) probably the most famous of all the Spartacus productions.

Rocca (Dan Vadis) tries to convince Spartacus (Alfredo Varelli) that he's not the enemy in SPARTACUS & THE TEN GLADIATORS. Spartacus has now entered the Pulpy world of action films.

Livio Lorenzon enjoys tormenting Spartacus, played by Peter Lupus, in CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR. Probably the beefiest Spartacus ever.

Croatian actor Goran Visnjic played the Thracian rebel Spartacus in a TV mini-series.


And last but not least, the late Andy Whitfield was Spartacus for one season  (13 episodes) for the TV series SPARTACUS : BLOOD AND SAND before dying of cancer. Liam Mcintyre (below) replaced Andy as Spartacus for one more season.



(originally posted June 2012)


Thursday, August 16, 2018

By the Gods!

Helen of Troy (Hedy Lamar) mourns the death of Paris (Massimo Serato) in THE LOVES OF THREE QUEENS (1954)

A difficult film to get a hold of. I have two copies of this: one in black & white and the a murky, fuzzy one in color. The color one is much better than the B&W copy but it's still poor quality. It was produced by Hedy herself (A Hedy Lamarr production) along with Victor Phalen. It's an anthology of sorts with Hedy playing different 'queens' set in different periods. It seems the rights to this film is still controlled by the daughter of producer Victor Phalen but I believe it's in the public domain in the US: it seems Warner Brothers bought the rights for the US distribution with the intent of never releasing it since they were making HELEN OF TROY (1956) and wanted this film out of circulation. The original title, L'AMANTE DI PARIDE, translates as THE LOVER OF PARIS.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

By the Gods!

A disheveled Alan Ladd and Franca Bettoia in DUEL OF CHAMPIONS (1961)

For some reason, this film is very polarizing. I have this film uploaded at my PEPLUM TV channel and the comments are either pure hate or 'Oh that was good.' So, it's either absolutely awful or it's good (but not great). I wonder why the disparity. I think it's good but not great like HERCULES (1958). I sorta see why some think it's unsuccessful, with the majority saying Ladd acts indifferently. But Ladd's lackadaisical acting sorta goes with the nature of his role. Franca has appeared in several PEPLUM films. She's a good actress who often played the 'strong, regal but cold female' type. This is one of the few shots in the movie with actors' faces are in the same frame. I love old films but this one of those annoying things about old movies: it's always head shots after head shots with little involvement with actors. The direction is sorta indifferent, even with two directors involved (and it looks like a difficult, cold shoot) but there are good scenes in it, the cast is good and the score is beautiful.

Behind-the-Scenes

Behind the scenes photo of Ken Clark and Renata Monvteduro (still in costume) during the filming of DEFEAT OF THE BARBARIANS (1961).

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

By the Gods!

Hadji Murad (Steve Reeves) and Prince Sergei Vorontzov (Gérard Herter) in THE WHITE WARRIOR (1959)

This is one of those films difficult to categorize. Is it a PEPLUM film? I say absolutely yes but the setting is sorta modern compare to stories set in Antiquity. It's a PEPLUM because it follows the familiar PEPLUM formula, including beefy Hero and slimy villain. Directed by Riccardo Freda, a PEPLUM veteran, also helps determine that this is one. I like this film. Steve has never been better (or more buff) and Herter is perfectly slimy...to the point that he renders the character totally unlikeable (sometimes villains can be bad but in a fun way). The annoying thing about it is how there are few great copies out there. Yes, the French DVD is pristine (a bit too pristine) but the company which released it is notoriously Youtube copystrike happy so I can't use that one. I have a pseudo HD copy of this, from an Italian TV broadcast. Unfortunately, there's a massive VOD graphic for several minutes at the start of the film, which renders it useless. Not many choices out there. Cinematography by Mario Bava. BTW, the Italian title, AGI MURAD IL DIAVOLO BIANCO, translates as Agi Murad The White Devil.

Identify PEPLUM film!

Can you identify the film from this screenshot?

It's NIGHT IN PARADISE (1946)

Monday, August 13, 2018

By the Gods!

Maria Grazia Spina and Mark Forest in HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS (1963)

This is one of the most popular films at PEPLUM TV channel. It's a Fan Dub I've made. There's a reason why it's so popular: it's fun. I like these improbable devices of restraint, with big chains everywhere. Spina plays a truly evil woman who eventually helps Hercules at the very last minute.

Movie Poster Mondays

Portuguese poster of THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS (1958)

Great poster. Great likeness of both actors. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

By the Gods!

Julie Newmar as a 'dancer-assassin' in SLAVES OF BABYLON (1953)

This movie gets an undeserved rep. Yes, it's sorta uninspired. Yes, it's low budget. Yes, the exteriors look like California! Yes, some of the acting is bland but you know what? I like it. It was directed by William Castle and it's one of several films he made for Columbia Pictures before his foray into the horror genre which made him famous. Of all his PEPLUM films, it's the most solid one. It sorta looks like an episode of STAR TREK (overlit sets, garish colours, etc) but with all its faults, the film actually creates some pathos and it has a couple of stand-out moments, like this dance scene.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

By the Gods!

Talos in JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963)

One of the best scenes in any PEPLUM, from the US or Italy. The great thing about Talos' robotic walk is that it made sense since he's a statue, making his appearance that much more uncanny. My only complaint about this scene is how Talos dies. It's sorta anti-climatic. The location, Palinuro Arch in Campania, was previously used in HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS (aka Hercules & the Captive Women).

Behind-the-Scenes

Todd Armstrong and Stuntman #4 film a test shot to be used later by Ray Harryhausen to guide him for the Skeleton scenes in JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

By the Gods!

Sappho (Tina Louise ; middle right) and her fellow students carry a wounded Phaon (Kerwin Mathews) in SAPPHO - THE VENUS OF LESBOS (Aka The Warrior Empress ; 1961)

This is one of three films director Pietro Francisci made that was released by a Hollywood studio after the success of HERCULES (1958). SAPPHO was released by Columbia Pictures. The other two were SIEGE OF SYRACUSE (for Paramount) and HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES (for MGM). This was quite a feat for an Italian director back then. Though the English dub is still missing for SIEGE, the English trailer shows that they didn't use Tina's voice for it while Tina's voice was used for SAPPHO (thank god!). With this film, Francisci created a world unto itself, which is why I really like it. It almost sets itself apart from the other PEPLUM and yet it's most definitely a PEPLUM. And, yes, there are some wardrobe malfunctions in this.


Wardrobe malfunctions!

Actors in PEPLUM films often wear skimpy costumes so wardrobe malfunctions were a common thing.

There are many more examples. I'm thinking of doing a permanent page for this subject (and other revealing moments in PEPLUM films) and update it periodically. Agree or not?

Anyway, I created a permanent page for this topic: Wardrobe Malfunctions and Other Revealing Moments!


Tina Louise in SIEGE OF SYRACUSE (1960) falls on the floor on a ship after being pushed (which causes amnesia) and her brief stunt work inadvertently exposed her right nipple. I wonder how this got past censors.




Mark Forest in HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN (1964), his super short toga meant a lot of exposure including this scene during the exciting climax. Oops...



This might not be considered a 'wardrobe malfunction' since she's not wearing any clothes but it's the same thing. Honor Blackman in THE LAST ROMAN (1968). She's taking a bath and the water undulates, which briefly reveals her nipples. I uploaded this film last week on Youtube. Someone flagged it and it has been set on restricted adult mode just because of this short scene. I had to remove the movie from my channel.



Brad Harris in 79 AD: THE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULANEUM (1962) revealed more than was intended. In the full screen version (above), an animated red dot was added by censors to cover the wardrobe malfunction. In the widescreen version (below), this scene is cropped out at the bottom. Carlo Tamberlani seems to notice the malfunction.



The love scene in SALAMMBO (1960) with Jacques Sernas and Jeanne Valerie. A brief but visible wardrobe malfunction. This shot was cut from the US version.


Spartaco Nale drops in and flashes his rump to the audience in DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961). There are plenty of wardrobe malfunctions in this film.