Saturday, November 14, 2020

PEPLUM Break


I take a break every two months and my last full time break was at the end of August so this is the time again.

Stay tuned!

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

Friday, November 13, 2020

By the Gods!

Gloria Milland and Brad Harris in GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS (1961)

Nice, autumn-like scene. The cinematography in this movie is excellent and this scene shows it. One of the better PEPLUM movies. I have some excellent copies of this but I'm waiting for a true HD or Blu-ray. It would look spectacular.

Behind-the-Scenes

Sylva Koscina and Steve Reeves during a promotional tour for HERCULES (1958)

Thursday, November 12, 2020

By the Gods!

Massimo Girotti and Renato Baldini in HEAD OF A TRYANT (1959)

In this scene, the two men and their friends watch a mongoose battling with cobras. Enter Isabelle Corey (below; Judith). Massimo plays Holophernes. Of course, Judith hates what they are watching and betting on. For some this scene might be disturbing but National Geographic has clips of a mongoose and cobra fighting to the death at their website...and there are plenty of clips on the internet of the two animals fighting. So it's not as exploitive as one could perceive it to be.

These screengrabs are from a copy in HD. Aside from some issues with dodgy colours, the print is the best yet. Really great. I love this movie so of course it's a pleasure to view it in such a near pristine condition.






Lobby Cards Set: MARY MAGDALENE (1958)

US lobby cards of THE SWORD & THE CROSS (1958), released as MARY MAGDALENE, starring Yvonne de Carlo, Jorge Mistral, Rossana Podesta, and others. Good set but nothing really stands out of it though. Cards #2 and #6 are from the same scene. They could have removed one. Card #5 is good but the image is not close enough. No cards with Mario Girotti (Terence Hill) or Philippe Hersent. 
 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Clip of the week!

From ATHENA (1954): PEPLUM star Edmund Purdom walks about a mansion and opens a door that unleashes gang of bodybuilders, including Ed Fury, another future PEPLUM star.



By the Gods!

Alissa Jung as Mary in MARY OF NAZARETH (2012)

Have you seen this TV movie? I haven't. It's a German - Italian - Spanish co-production. It doesn't look too bad from the looks of the trailer (below), if a bit bland. The cruxifixction scene is anything but though.


French Fotonovelas of PEPLUM movies

French fotonovelas with mostly female stars on their covers. Here's a handful of covers with PEPLUM movies.

Rossana Podesta on the cover for HELEN OF TROY (1956)


Anouk Aimee from SODOM & GOMORRAH (1962)


Belinda Lee from GODDESS OF LOVE (the fotonovella is not about that PEPLUM though)


Yvonne de Carlo from THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)


Danielle Darrieux and Richard Burton from ALEXANDER THE GREAT (1956)


Monday, November 9, 2020

By the Gods!

Giuliano Gemma, Pedro Armendariz, and Antonella Lualdi in MY SON, THE HERO (1962; aka The Titans)

There's a copy on Youtube which has been there for a while and is in HD even though it's not. It's a battered print (see the scratch over Giuliano). It was up-converted to HD. The cool thing about it is that the opening credits are in English. I already had one with opening credits in English but it's a poor, discoloured 4:3 VHS source (below). This 'HD' copy is a definite upgrade even if it's not true HD. And one can clearly see how colourful the original version was. Both of these English versions are missing scenes.

In either versions though, that hair on Giuliano...nope. 



PEPLUM Movie Poster

Yugoslavian poster of THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1959)

 As far as I can see Steve is not featured on the poster which might be a first for a Steve Reeves movie.

PEPLUM TV Official store





Friday, November 6, 2020

By the Gods!

Rory Calhoun and cast in COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1961)

I finally got the Blu-ray for this movie and I have to say it's quite disappointing. Personally, I think it's just an unconverted version of the previous version, from the Warner Historical Epics boxset, which I have. Below is from a HD copy of the Italian print. It's also not stellar but the image doesn't seem overly processed like the US one. If you look carefully, there's more information on the left in the Italian one but then there's more information on the right in the US one.

Why can't the actual print be available everywhere? It's really perplexing. There's a German Blu-ray available and I've seen screengrabs on the internet and the image appears better than the US one but the US copy has opening credits in English. 



At the movies...

BEN-HUR (1959) playing at the Loew's State Theatre in New Your city. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

By the Gods!

Warren Stevens, Patricia Medina, and Lex Barker in DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI (1955)

The question many might think right now: is this a PEPLUM movie? I say yes. It's not a Western. It's not a costume drama (too much action). It has all the elements of a PEPLUM movie, including sword fights, duels, brawls, etc. This is maybe my favourite William Castle mini-movies he made for Columbia Pictures. I already wrote about Castle 9 years ago here. Lex was in between his Tarzan movies and his future PEPLUM movies made in Europe (he had already done those two THUG movies in Italy). Lex is quite impressive in this. He towers over everyone. This movie used to show up all the time on a now defunct Canadian TV channel, DRIVE-IN CLASSICS. 

Behind-the-Scenes

A behind the scenes photo of Mark Forest. I have no information about it but from looking at Mark was wearing, it's most likely from SON OF SAMSON (1960). The man next to him is Sam Degni, Mark's brother. It has been confirmed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

By the Gods!

Rossana Podesta and Livio Lorenzon in FURY OF THE BARBARIANS (1960; also known as Fury of the Pagans)

As this screengrab shows, this version is from a HD broadcast of the movie in Italy. The broadcast might have been in HD but the recorded file was not. It's still very nice copy though. More and more PEPLUM movies are getting the HD treatment which is great news. Unfortunately, most of these broadcasts are not in English so the option is to do a Fan Dub but doing a Fan Dub of a movie in HD is problematic, on many levels, certainly on working on such a humongous file size. It makes it almost impossible to do. The only option: for the movies to be released on Blu-ray with the English track included. There have been some, such as the recent THIEF OF BAGHDAD Blu-ray from Germany, but it's still pretty rare. So many dilemmas. Haha!

Name the movie!

Can you identify the movie from this screengrab?

No one tried to guess...hmm. Well, it's from CORIOLANUS - HERO WITHOUT A COUNTRY (1964)

Monday, November 2, 2020

By the Gods!

Kit Harington in POMPEII (2014) 

Does anyone like this movie? Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, it's not that different than one of those low budgeted movies made by Asylum. Almost everything about it comes across as fake or forced. It's only 97 minutes long and the destruction scene at the end take a third of that runtime (over 30 minutes...). I'm not a fan of it. It's like a parody of PEPLUM movies. Harrignton is mainly known for being in GAMES OF THRONE TV series and this was the first movie project he decided to make. Big mistake. The movie didn't last long at movie theatres.

The special effects are, for the most part, quite obvious. When there's a scene with special effects the scene usually lasts longer than a couple of seconds, which is what this movie is edited like throughout: a non-stop barrage of quick edits. 

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original US poster of PIRATE AND THE SLAVE GIRL (1959)

That's Lex Barker? That sorta looks like Chelo. Nice poster. More detailed than many posters from the US. In Colorscope.

PEPLUM TV Official store





Friday, October 30, 2020

By the Gods!

Channing Tatum in THE EAGLE (2011)

Does anyone like this movie? Production wise, it's nice to look at but the story is sorta anemic. I applaud Channing for trying to do something different but he wasn't suited for this. Like so many movies made these days the rewriting of history to fit our current politically correct times is needlessly distracting. Since Channing's career is not as hot as it used to be when he made this, oddly enough, as uneven as it is, this is one of his better movies. 

Behind-the-Scenes

Steve Reeves helps Liana Orfei refresh herself during the filming of THE AVENGER (1962; aka War of the Trojans). 

Little observation here: in the movie, Reeves' character doesn't court Liana's character. IMO, this was a mistake as the two together would have been great. Carla Marlier was Reeves' love interest. Carla should have played Liana's role, and vice versa. 

BY THE GODS!: 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD…a hit!



Advertising placed in a Hollywood trade publication in 1957 touting the success of 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. 



Thursday, October 29, 2020

By the Gods!

Guy Madison, Ray Danton and Ferdinando Poggi in a torture scene from SANDOKAN AGAINST THE LEOPARD OF SARAWAK (1964)

The first Sandokan movie with Ray Danton to be released in 1964. Th movie is pretty much a straight up PEPLUM production, with the main cast all actors from PEPLUM movies, including Mario Petri (not seen here) in a major role. Torture scenes in PEPLUM movies are fairly common. Back then one could torture someone without censors making a big deal out of it but today, a scene like this would get it classified as adult stuff. It's one of the many reasons why I like the genre: they got away with so much back then, stuff that wouldn't be acceptable or seen today. This scene would be more effective if the surroundings didn't look like a movie set but the movie was shot in (stunning) locations. Danton is okay as Sandokan but I prefer Steve Reeves. Guy Madison was touted as an up and coming star more than a decade prior to this film's release. I wonder how he felt starring in movies made in Italy/Europe.

Lobby Cards Set: SON OF SINBAD (1955)

Original US lobby cards set of SON OF SINBAD (1955) starring Dale Robertson, Vincent Price and Sally Forrest. The set captures the movie's fun tone. It's light, colourful and filled with beautiful women. One great shot of the star, Dale Robertson (card #5) and one with Vincent (card #2), one with Dale and a bathing beauty (#6), and one with Dale, Vincent and some girls (#7). Good set.
 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

By the Gods!

A scene from CAESAR & CLEOPATRA (1946)

This movie has some of the best matte paintings in any movie. The artist responsible for this amazing work was Percy Day. Now I don't know if Percy was responsible for all the matte paintings in the movie (they often had different artists) but there are other scenes in which I still can't figure out what's real, model work or matte painting. Pretty amazing for an old movie. 

Then & Now: Nancy Kovack

Nancy in JASON & THE AGONAUTS (1963); a photo of a recent public appearance of the actress
 

Monday, October 26, 2020

By the Gods!

Franca Bettoia and Ray Danton in SANDOKAN STRIKES BACK (1964)

This was one of 3 Sandokan movies released in 1964 in Italy. Yes, 3!!! The first movie starring Steve Reeves, SANDOKAN THE GREAT was released in December 1963 (but it got a wide release afterwards around the world) then the two Sandokan movies with Ray Danton were released, including this one, in August 1964 and then SANDOKAN AGAINST THE LEOPARD OF SARAWAK on October 18, 1964. Steve Reeves' SANDOKAN - THE PIRATE OF MALAYSIA was released on October 16. 1964. No wonder the whole series is confusing. The title to the second Reeves Sandokan movie didn't have the name Sandokan in it, only THE PIRATE OF MALAYSIA, maybe to prevent confusion with the Ray Danton ones. Reeves must have been pissed off by this. I'm not familiar with Danton as an actor. Aside from starring as George Raft in THE GEORGE RAFT STORY (1961), Danton mostly appeared in TV shows I've seldom watched. As for Franca, she made a couple of PEPLUM movies, 6 to be exact, including DUEL OF CHAMPIONS (1961), her most famous title. Franca is still alive!

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Argentinian poster of SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR (1959)

Great poster. I want it. The title is different in that it translates as THE BARBARIANS AGAINST ROME. Hmm...more accurate than SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR since there are no gladiators in this.

PEPLUM TV Official store





Friday, October 23, 2020

By the Gods!

Yôko Tani as Princess Ila in URSUS IN THE TARTAR PRINCESS (1961)

A Japanese actress born in Paris, France. She starred in a handful of PEPLUM movies, including this one. She's mostly known for FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS (1960). I like her. Good actress. These screen grabs were taken from a HD version of it. It's very nice. Not as spectacular as the recent CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER one but a definite upgrade from previous versions.

Ettore Manni starred along with Yôko

At the movies...

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965) playing at the Warner Cinerama theatre in NYC.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

By the Gods!

Jean Simmons is a slave in SPARTACUS (1960)

Simmons was a rare PEPLUM star in Hollywood in that she made a good number of genre films. ANDROCLES AND THE LION (1952), THE ROBE (1953), THE EGYPTIAN (1954) and this one. Aside from ANDROCLES, all other films were big productions and casting her in SPARTACUS made sense. She was a familiar face in such pictures. But she would slowly stop working after this epic, only starring in 6 films in the 1960s after the year SPARTACUS was released. In this story, she's the catalyst in that Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) revolts against the Romans after she is whisked away from the slave camp.

What do you think of her? Any fans out there?

Behind-the-Scenes

Victor Mature takes a photo with one of the extras, who happens to be Ed Fury, during the making of DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS (1954)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

By the Gods!

Giacomo Rossi Stuart and Ferdinando Poggi in THE MYSTERY OF THUG ISLAND (1964)

Rossi Stuart plays Tremal Naik. In our politically correct times, this movie, and other of its kind, are blasphemous. Better save them on your hard drives before TPTB bans them forever. I know the actors are not the right race but both actors look tanned, not in brown or black face. The two look almost identical. 

Rhonda Fleming, R.I.P.

Rhonda in REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960)

Hollywood star Rhonda Fleming died on October 14 at the age of 97. Though she didn't star in many PEPLUM movies, those that she did star in were big titles, at least in regards to the genre itself. She was an actress, singer, and dancer (in Las Vegas). One of her earliest roles was in Hitchcock's SPELLBOUND (1945). She would eventually become lead actress in many movies during most of the 1950s. A lot of her movies are not PEPLUM movies per se but have elements of the genre such as A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT (1948). Her biggest roles would be in SERPENT OF THE NILE, QUEEN OF BABYLON and REVOLT OF THE SLAVE. May she R.I.P..

Rhonda in LITTLE EGYPT (1951). Not a PEPLUM movie but she had a memorable belly dance in it.


Rhonda with Sterling Hayden in THE GOLDEN HAWK (1952). She was the star of the movie, with her name above the title.


THE SERPENT OF THE NILE (1953)
Rhonda as Cleopatra
 
Rhonda starred in this William Castle directed movie made for Columbia Pictures. Raymond Burr co-starred with her. Fun film.





Rhonda in a publicity photo for YANKEE PASHA (1954). Not a true PEPLUM movie. A combination Western/Arabian Adventure. The story takes place in the 1800s and Rhonda's character is kidnapped and sent to Arabia to become a dancing girl in a harem.


QUEEN OF BABYLON (1954)

Rhonda went to Italy to star in this sorta big PEPLUM movie with a 'cast of thousands.' It was quite an ambitious production, an early PEPLUM shot in color. It also starred another Hollywood actor, Ricardo Montalban. Is it accurate in regards to Babylonian culture? Not really but it's fun, sorta influential PEPLUM since it was made way before all the upcoming titles of the late 1950s.

Ricardo, playing Amal, with Rhonda, as Semiramis, in this improbable and yet fun PEPLUM


Rhonda dances up a storm in a massive ceremonial scene.


Semiramis (Fleming) is to be burned at the stake. Big production.




REVOLT OF THE SLAVES
(1960)

6 years after going to Italy to make QUEEN OF BABYLON, Rhonda return to Rome to shoot her best PEPLUM yet: REVOLT OF THE SLAVES. I think it's an overlooked PEPLUM movie which finally got the Blu-ray treatment. One of those PEPLUM movies I watch over and over.

Rhonda Fleming with her co-stars: Dolores Francine, Ettore Manni, Wandisa Guida, and Fernando Rey. Great cast.

Rhonda's character is during the climax imprisoned along with Dolores Francine.


Lang Jeffires and Rhonda in a publicity photo. Both were married briefly after the production was completed.

Rhonda with Serge Gainsbourg and Van Aikens. Serge would become a legendary crooner after his stint in PEPLUM movies.