Sunday, September 25, 2011

PEPLUM Directors: William Castle

Before becoming a showman, director William Castle directed straight films without any gimmicks. I've seen all of his Sword & Sandal/Swashbucklers  and though they'll never be considered great works of cinema I have to say that I was entertained by all of them, with THE SARACEN BLADE, SLAVES OF BABYLON and DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI being my favourites.

He also directed SERPENT OF THE NILE, the unlikely Cleopatra opus with Rhonda Fleming and THE IRON GLOVE starring Robert Stack. But the first films mentioned above are above average and are truly entertaining. Ricardo Montalban is excellent in THE SARACEN BLADE and except for a few cheap shots of stock footage, it's solid from beginning to end. DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI might not seem to be a PEPLUM but it is as it's all about sword fights and it stars Lex Barker. Need I say more? Lex is pretty impressive in this film and Castle got the best out of him. And SLAVES OF BABYLON has a high number of impressive scenes in it which makes it a stand-out. Hollywood "B-movie" Sword & Sandals made in the 1940s and early 1950s are all but forgotten today and this post is just to shed some much needed light on them. And Castle's films are some of the best of the forgotten bunch.

An impressive Lex Barker in DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI

Ricardo Montalban makes THE SARACEN BLADE

One of the many stand-out scenes in SLAVES OF BABYLON

The beautiful Rhonda Fleming in SERPENT OF THE NILE

1 comment:

Steven Lester said...

So, now we know that God is right-handed. And notice the healed wound right in the middle of the top of the hand (at least it looks that way to me). I wonder what that tells about time and space and other metaphysical conundrums.

It is a very dramatic scene. I am most impressed.