Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Clip of the week: ATTILA (1954)


Irene Papas makes some predictions during a sacrifice. With Henri Vidal and Anthony Quinn as Attila.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

HD Alert!

There are no new Blu-ray releases in the forceable future so let's talk about some old releases...

 


Ray Harryhausen's SINBAD movies, THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958), THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973) and SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER (1977), are available on Blu-ray, individually or in the RAY HARRYHAUSEN THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION pack, which has the 3 Sinbad movies, plus 4 other movies, including JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963). I don't mind the other movies but what if I just want to buy the 3 Sinbad movies? Buying the 3 movies individually would cost more than the ULTIMATE COLLECTION, which is around $60

A SINBAD boxset was released in the UK but look at the price. 


 

Why don't they release a boxset in the US/Canada with just the 3 Sinbad movies at a reasonable price. 


Then & Now: Giovanni Cianfriglia


 Giovanni in IRONMASTER (1983); a recent photo of the actor

Monday, September 26, 2022

Musings!


 Henry Cavill as Theseus in IMMORTALS (2011)

Does anyone like this movie? I often ask this question and there's no exception for this movie. PEPLUM films are adulated to incredible heights, like GLADIATOR (2000) or SPARTACUS (1960) while many others are all but forgotten. Even though this movie is only 11 years old it's, imo, already forgotten. I never hear anyone talk about it. Personally, I'm not a fan of it. It looks great but the direction is so obtuse that it's impossible for me to get into it. The film is also extremely stylized, with conflicting looks of cultures and in the end it doesn't look like something that's supposed to be based on Greek Mythology. The Gods of Olympus are made to look like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in action. It's really odd. Oh well...



PEPLUM Movie Poster


 Spanish poster of ULYSSES (1954) 

Great artwork. Very evocative. It does amplify things a bit much like the Trojan Horse which appears just for two seconds. And Kirk's physique.


Friday, September 23, 2022

Image of the week!


Karim (Steve Reeves) on his tumultuous journey to find the blue rose in THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961)

At the movies...


 CALIGULA (1979) playing at a movie theatre in New York City.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Musings!


Salammbo (Jeanne Valérie) makes an unexpected appearance to the surprised fighting men in SALAMMBO (1960; The Loves of Salambo US)

This is one of my favourite scenes of any PEPLUM movie. The set-up and everything is perfect. Scenes like this make me realize why I love the genre so much. As much as I love this movie, I admit that it's wildly uneven. Some truly beautiful, near breathtaking stuff with some wild overacting and cringe scenes. It's too bad because the brilliant stuff is really brilliant. Sergio Grieco went all out and even though this approach gave us some amazing stuff, he had difficulty controlling himself which resulted in some of the  bad stuff. The US version was severely cut to the point of being unwatchable. The score is excellent but very boisterous. I made the first Fan Dub of this years ago. Except for PEPLUM fans like me, it's pretty much forgotten today. Does anyone like it?

Behind-the-Scenes


 Elizabeth Taylor and costume designer Irene Sharaff on the set of CLEOPATRA (1963)

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Clip of the week: IRONMASTER (1983)

Giovanni Cianfriglia vs Sam Pasco. With Elvire Audray.



Tuesday, September 20, 2022

SPFX DEPT.


A scene from THE LOVES OF HERCULES (1960)

This scene has a pretty darn good matte painting in a movie filled with special effects, like practical effects of the Hydra, Tree-Men, and monster in full hairy costume, etc. From what I can tell, this is the only major matte painting in the entire production. And this scene was cut from the US version! As nice as it is, the elements don't work in the movie as the real landscape wobbles while the painting itself is still. I can see why the scene was cut. It's even more obvious in the HD copy I have than the lower quality copies. Even so, it's still a good one. Maybe the stabilizing issue in this scene could be fixed with a computer.


Irene Papas, RIP



Irene Papas died on September 14 at the age of 96. Like so many actors and actresses of the past, Irene starred in PEPLUM films before moving on to critically acclaimed films. She only appeared in 8 productions, movies and TV, that would be considered PEPLUM. She made three movies by Michael Cacoyannis based on Greek Tragedies. Though her roles became more complex and layered, her two early movies, in ATTILA and THEODORA, will always be memorable to me. And her role as Penelope in the TV mini-series showed what an excellent actress she was. RIP.



Irene's first PEPLUM role was in THEODORA - SLAVE EMPRESS (1954), directed by Riccardo Freda. She played Theodora's jealous sister. She made an impression in this excellent production. The main photo above is from that movie.

 

Immediately after THEODORA, Irene appeared in ATTILA (1854), directed by Pietro Francisci, and staring Anthony Quinn. Like her role in the previous movie, it was a supporting role and she shone in all of her scenes.





Irene starred in ANTIGONE (1961), an excellent Greek PEPLUM in the old Italian style. Her next movies would follow suit but be different as well.



The first of three Greek Tragedy movies she would make with director Michael Cacoyannis, ELEKTRA (1961). This movie was more art-house style than the previous ANTIGONE. 



Irene starred in THE ODYSSEY (1968), an excellent TV mini-series with Bekim Fehmiu as Ulysses. One of Irene's best roles. She was superlative. 

 

Irene was in THE TROJAN WOMEN (1971), with an ensemble cast that included Kathryn Hepburn (below). The second Greek Tragedy movie she made with director Michael Cacoyannis.





Irene's third and last Greek Tragedy movie directed by Michael Cacoyannis, IPHEGENIA (1977). It's co-starred Panos Mihalopoulos.



Her PEPLUM productions:

THEODORA - SLAVE EMPRESS (1954)

ATTILA (1954)

ANTIGONE (1961)

ELEKTRA (1961)

THE ODYSSEY (1968; TV)

ANNE OF A THOUSAND DAYS (1969)

THE TROJAN WOMEN (1971)

IPHIGENIA (1977)


Monday, September 19, 2022

Musings!


Messalina (Susan Hayward) inspects gladiators in DEMTRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS (1954)

I was watching an old episode of WHAT'S MY LINE? and the mystery guest was Van Johnson. One of the panels hosts, Arlene Francis, asked Johnson if he starred in a Biblical movie and Johnson said no. A surprised Arlerne then said, "Everyone starred in Biblical movies..."

Though Biblical movies were all the rage back then, they were also, to a certain extent, looked down upon. The panel's reaction to the fact that a famous actor didn't appear in a Biblical movie was telling. Hitchcock apparently hated these movies too. Susan Hayward was one of those stars who actually loved making Biblical movies, or epics, or PEPLUM movies. Her performance as Messalina shows she 'got' the genre. That's Ernest Borgnine behind Susan and Barrys Jones to the left. Ed Fury was one of the gladiators but he's not in this shot.

PEPLUM Movie Poster


Spanish poster of TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATrA (1954) 

Colourful, comical poster. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Image of the week!


Hercules (Mickey Hargitay) is seduced by Hippolyta in the image of Queen Deianira (Jayne Mansfield) in THE LOVES OF HERCULES (1960)


Note: I'll have an overview of Irene Papas' career in PEPLUM movies next Tuesday!

Lobby Cards Set: SAMSON (1961)

British lobby cards set of SAMSON (1961) starring Brad Harris, Alan Steel, Serge Gainsbourg and others. I have to say that this set rocks! Excellent set. It's a shame it's in Black & White but even so it's much better than most in (often terrible) colour. I want it. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Musings!


David Carradine, as Kain the Warrior, gets a bath in THE WARRIOR AND THE SORCERESS (1984)

Bathing scenes are a cliché in PEPLUM movies, including the Sword and Sorcery kind of the 1980s. It's either Bathing Beauty or Bathing Beefcake, and well, I wouldn't call Carradine Beefcake so it's more like Bathing Hero, or in this case, Bathing Anti-Hero. Of all the Sword and Sorcery flicks of the era, this one is one of the oddest (and that's saying a lot!) and most obscure. Carradine plays his usual anti-hero role. It's sorta entertaining but it drags a lot in many places. The highlight of the movie is the dance number, with a topless dancer, has to be seen to be believed. It's the best scene in the movie. Filmed in Argentina.


Behind-the-Scenes


Jayne Mansfield and husband Mickey Hargitay during a break on the set of THE LOVES OF HERCULES (1960)

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Clip of the week: THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES (1962)


The Three Stooges end up in Ancient Greece and Curly Joe gets the nutcracker treatment from Hercules, played here by Samson Burke.



Tuesday, September 13, 2022

HD Alert!


THE THREE AVENGERS (1964) will have a Blu-ray release in France. It will be available on October 4. You can pre-order now, for those who are interested.

I like the movie. It's fun. Alan Steel (below) clearly had fun making this movie. But we live in a world where this movie gets a Blu-ray release and HERCULES (1958) doesn't. 



Vintage article


Old article on Iloosh Khoshabe, aka Rod Flash or Richard Lloyd, in some Italian magazine. It shows his workout routine which sculpted his formidable physique  Iloosh starred in many memorable PEPLUM productions, including playing Samson in HERCULES, SAMSON AND ULYSSES (1963).
 





Monday, September 12, 2022

Musings!


 Alfio Caltabiano is a gladiator in SEVEN SLAVES AGAINST ROME (1964) 

The English dub of this movie has been missing forever. Someone on the internet contacted me to say that they had the English version, from a VHS source. I was "Hurray! Finally." Unfortunately, a trade with this fellow didn't pan out. I believe the VHS was from Finland. It wasn't a scam or anything. The fellow was confused and thought I traded in Kung-Fu movies or something like that. Anyway, at least I know the English version IS out there, somewhere. Hopefully, it will show up one day. The screenshot above was taken from a Spanish HD streaming service. Very nice copy but only in Spanish. 


PEPLUM Movie Poster


Original Italian poster of ERIK THE VIKING (1965)

Great poster. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Image of the week!


Nahum (Richard Conte) saves King Cyrus (Terry Kilburn) from assassination by a dancer (Julie Newmar) in SLAVES OF BABYLON (1953)

VHS Covers



Above: VHS cover of SANDOKAN AGAINST THE LEOPARD OF SARAWAK (1964). It was re-titled as THRONE OF VENGEANCE for the VHS release. This is NOT a Steve Reeves Sandokan movie. Ray Danton starred as the the titular hero. Ray was fit but nothing like the cover. Below is the less flashy Spanish VHS cover.

  


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Musings!


Kellan Lutz is Hercules in THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (2014) 

The movie had very little to do with Hercules. In this movie, Hercules is a gladiator which is bizarre since Hercules was never a gladiator. He battled with men and armies with swords and spears, yes, but never as a gladiator. The producers wanted GLADIATOR (2000) but since a big budgeted Hercules movie was being released that same year, the one starring Dwayne Johnson, they probably re-wrote the whole thing to capitalize on it. It's not the first time a Hercules movie had very little to do with the Greek demi-god. It's a shame though since Lutz was fit and could have a made a decent Hercules. He would make a great DOC SAVAGE though. Rotten Tomatoes rating: 5%


Behind-the-Scenes


Sophia Loren gets her wardrobe checked on the set of THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964)

This is how she looked like in the final movie.



Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

SPFX DEPT.


Scenes from SUDAN (1945)

With the recent release of SUDAN on Blu-ray, watching the movie again reminded me of how many matte paintings there are in it. It's replete with these wonderful scenes. Even incidental scenes have them. At IMDb, no one is credited for them. But according to another website, the matte painting supervisor was Russell Lawson and John DeCuir was also an artist. Both Lawson and DeCuir are not credited at IMDb. 








Then & Now: Liana Orfei


Liana in HERCULES, SAMSON AND ULYSSES (1963); A recent photo of the actress.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Musings!


Delilah (Liana Orfei) is plotting something against Hercules (Kirk Morris) in HERCULES, SAMSON AND ULYSSES (1963; US 1965)

I got a nice print of this fun Pietro Francisci movie. It's not quite HD but almost HD. It's from a TCM broadcast. This movie is one of the few HERCULES movies in which a Hollywood studio owns the rights to it, which is why TCM always plays this one on a regular basis. Monte Gelato is the beautiful location. 

PEPLUM Movie Poster


Argentinean poster of THE MAGNIFICENT GLADIATOR (1964)

Great poste. I assume this poster is identical to the one from Spain

Sunday, August 28, 2022

PEPLUM Break


I take a break roughly every two months so this is that time again. Last full break was back at  the beginning of July. 

So 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, August 26, 2022

Image of the week!


A vengeful Artemide (Gianna Maria Canale) is about to meet her fate in THE CENTURION (1961; aka Conqueror of Corinth)

SAMSON AND THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD Blu-ray review



SAMSON AND THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (1961). Directed by Riccardo Freda. Starring Gordon Scott, Yôko Tani, Hélène Chanel, Gabriele Antonini, Dante DiPaolo, Leonardo Severini.

Original Italian title: Maciste alla corte del Gran Khan



This review of the new Kino Lorber Blu-ray edition of SAMSON AND THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD will be short. It's great. Buy it.

Seriously, unlike other releases, this one is pretty much straightforward and not much to go over. There are two versions included in this release, including the original Italian cut. And there's US American International cut. This version is where things get a bit tricky. 

The Italian cut is complete, same as the RAI HD broadcast, which I have. The only difference is the runtime. Not because the RAI one is cut but because the movie was shown in PAL format, which means 25 frames per second while the uncut version on the Blu-ray is at 24 frames per second. This slight change makes the runtime of the RAI TV broadcast shorter than the one on the Blu-ray. 25fps shaves off time from the original version at 24 fps. It's a European thing. Anyway, so there's no need to do a side-by-side comparison since by looking at the frame rates differences, they are most likely identical. 

I'll make a 'Different Versions' post in the future comparing all the different copies I have but the runtime for the on on the Blu-ray is 95 minutes 38 seconds, while the runtime of the RAI broadcast is at 91 minutes 52 seconds. Same movie, different frame rates, completely different aspect ratio. If I find any major differences, I'll post them in that article.



The image is crisp though not as colorful, or 'Technicolor', as the old Public Domain one. The one problem are scenes at night or dark scenes. Like so many recent Blu-ray editions, the dark scenes are so dark it's sometimes difficult to make out what's going on (above). 


Size comparison: Top left is the old Public Domain version available on WARRIORS 50 pack I bought 14 or so years ago. Below it is the US cut from the new Blu-ray. Same scene, same time, totally different aspect ratio.

The big issue with this excellent release is the US American International Pictures or AIP cut. It's *not* a genuine copy taken from a negative of that version. It's basically a Fan Dub, like those I've been doing for years, in which they took the audio from the AIP version, cleaned it up, and re-edited the movie from the pristine original Italian version to match this AIP cut. I don't know who did this but they did a great job. The opening and closing credits are from the old Public Domain print but the rest is nearly the same as the old version. The runtimes are slightly different but by a second or so. This is an interesting thing. Is it legit though? I'm sure the negatives of the AIP cut are lost or impossible to find so they reverted to this Fan Dub approach which works but it's not a genuine copy of the AIP print. 


Hélène Chanel and Leonardo Severini in the 17 minutes + intro that was cut from the AIP version for its US release. 

The other big difference is the Uncut vs AIP cut versions. The runtime for the AIP is around 77 minutes while the original Italian copy is 95 minutes (24 fps). That's a whopping 18 minutes cut for the AIP version. The question was: will the missing scene (nearly all the beginning excluding opening credits), have an English dub? The answer is YES! So the original 95 minutes copy is in English from the start. For years, fans like me had to watch the intro in Italian and then to English when Samson (Gordon Scott) shows up. I wanted to make a Fan Dub of it but this major gap complicated things. So no need for subtitles for the beginning of this movie.


The US cut on the Blu-ray starts with the familiar AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES logo take from the Public Domain print. Don't worry, the image gets better after the short credits.
 
I give this edition a 10. Even though the AIP cut is not really a genuine copy, and even though dark scenes are too dark, and the Italian audio is not included (why?), and the BD is barebones with only some commentary by the omnipresent Bava-expert Tim Lucas, this release is near perfect. What's really remarkable about this release is that it's the first time a major PEPLUM title was released in HD first in North America and not Europe. Quite a miracle. More of this please.