Tuesday, November 13, 2018

By the Gods!

Dina Loy and Kirk Morris in FALCON OF THE DESERT (1965)

A fun film in which Kirk keeps his clothes on. Fans of shirtless Kirk might be disappointed but the movie doesn't suffer from this little detail. Dina only made 17 or so films, all during the 1960s. Like so many other actors who appeared in PEPLUM films, she disappeared from the face of the earth. For some odd reason, Google describes it as a Spaghetti Western. It's not.


ANCIENT HISTORY magazine published an article on THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. Graham Sumner, the writer of the article, provided it to me after last week's profile I made on the film. I asked him if I could feature the first page of the article. Here it is, as an addendum of sorts. Very interesting article. Producer Samson Bronston filed for bankruptcy after the failure of the epic film.

You can check out their website: ANCIENT HISTORY magazine

Monday, November 12, 2018

By the Gods!

Wandisa Guida and Michel Lemoine in THE PRISONER OF THE IRON MASK (1961)

I finally got a nice copy of this rare film. As you can see, this was shoot at the famous Monte Gelato waterfalls seen in so many PEPLUM movies. It stars Wandisa, which is a plus, and it also stars Jany Clair, which is an additional plus. This was a breakthrough role for Lemoine, as unlikely as an action star as he was. Good looking production. Now I have to find an English copy of this.

Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian poster of THE QUEEN OF THE TARTARS (1960)

Also known as THE HUNS. Directed by Sergio Grieco. So, an over-the-top poster for an over-the-top film.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

By the Gods!

Christopher Plummer, as Commodus, in a dual to the death with Stephen Boyd in THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964)

This scene is great. Brilliantly executed (if a bit too short). The design and camerawork are tops. A great ending to, imo, a clearly uneven film. When released, the Anthony Mann directed movie was a major box office dud. I don't necessarily blame it on the quality of the final product (even if at 3 hours it was overlong) but having been released right after the equally overlong CLEOPATRA (1963), moviegoers' interest in stories set in Antiquity greatly diminished because of the Elizabeth Taylor epic. Both films were a one-two punch that finally killed the PEPLUM craze.

I hope you enjoyed this week's profile on THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. I'll be making more of 'weekly profiles' in the future.

Lobby cards: FALL OF ROME (1963)

Lobby cards set for FALL OF ROME (1963), here under its British title, ROME IN FLAMES (not to be confused with FIRE OVER ROME or CARTHAGE IN FLAMES). This is from the UK. Good set, with nice selection of images with actors. The downside: it's in black & white. But still nice. Remarkably enough, this film preceded the massive Hollywood epic, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964).

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

By the Gods!

Steve Reeves as Hercules in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

I found a rare VHS copy of this film on Youtube. It's from a channel that's 'dead,' meaning there hasn't been any new uploads there in 4 years. The owner must have abandoned it. This copy of HERCULES UNCHAINED was uploaded 7 years ago. It's in English and though it's in 4:3 aspect ratio, it actually included more (compressed) screen info and I was able to un-compress it and make it semi-widescreen. Click here to see the difference. Cool stuff. Youtube is trying to close all of these old channels, including mine. This upload of HERCULES UNCHAINED only has 1600 views...in 7 years. The channel is most likely hidden and I came upon it by accident.


Here's some behind the scenes footage of Omar Sharif talking about his role in THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

By the Gods!

Omar Sharif and Sophia Loren in THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964)

The two characters married for political reasons (he's the king of Armenia) but we see very little of this relationship. Omar's role is basically a cameo, which is a shame because he was a great actor. Sophia had top billing. This seems a bit odd since there were rumours of her being difficult during the filming of EL CID (1961), also directed by Anthony Mann. If she was so difficult to work with why would Mann want to work with her again? I like Sophia in this. She brings a certain humanity that's often missing in a story populated with dozens of characters. My only problem with Sophia is she didn't seem related to Alec Guinness (father) and Christopher Plummer (brother). She's very Mediterranean while Alec and Christopher are clearly not.

Steve Reeves as Hercules at Cinecitta

An artist created a mural at Cinecitta celebrating Steve Reeves as Hercules. Created in 2017. Pretty cool. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

By the Gods!


This short film, in which the dialogue is entirely in Latin (but the voice over is in English), was shot using the sets from THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964). The film is in the public domain.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster of THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964)

I don't like the posters from the US for this film. The Italian poster, though better, makes it look like your average PEPLUM film.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

By the Gods!

Duncan Regehr as a gladiator in the mini-series, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1984)

I tried watching this mini-series all the way through and I still cannot do it (it's over 5 hours long). I remember watching it back when it was shown on TV for the first time and enjoyed parts of it but not all of it. Fast forward to today, and I still hold the same opinion: the excellent production, even solid on same level but way overlong. Too many dull sub-stories. The fun thing about this is that there are Italian actors who starred in PEPLUM films of the Golden Era, like Franco Nero and Marilù Tolo. The gladiatorial scenes were good but oddly enough, they looked more outdated (or less authentic) than those from old Italian films. Someone should take this and re-edit it down to a tight 2 hour long film. It would be great.

Lobby Cards set : CLEOPATRA (1963)

US lobby cards set for CLEOPATRA (1963). Distilling the entire 4 hours into 8 lobby cards was an impossible task. There were two sets of lobby cards, known as the blue and the pink sets. The cards in the pink set were almost identical except for 3 cards. I included 2 more with the blue set. I like it and it does give an impression of the colorful film but the film is too expansive and a lobby card set could never perfectly capture the scope of he film. Good but not great.