Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Highlights from German PEPLUM documentary

Bartolomeo Pagano in MACISTE ALPINO. I need to see this.

I got hold of a German documentary on the PEPLUM genre. It's called KINO KOLOSSAL and it was made in 2000. It's one hour long so it's not too in-depth but even so it contains more goodies in it than any documentary I've ever seen, certainly the Italian one which is filled with mistakes. I don't understand German but I could get what was being said or what was going on and some bits I was able to hear the Italian conversation which also helped. Here's a quick recap of highlights from the doc.

It starts with some fun footage from COLOSSUS OF RHODES, HERCULES and the action-packed THE LAST GLADIATOR and the stabbing scene from FURY OF ACHILLES, which is one of my favorite PEP scenes. Only just a few minutes in and I already loved this doc. It also had a brief clip of Bartolomeo Pagano in MACISTE ALPINO and I go "Oh wow! I need to see this."

Giovanni Cianfriglia and Mimmo Palmara

We see some footage of Gordon Mitchell (before he died of course) it's then followed by scenes of Mimmo Palmara and Giovanni Cianfriglia having fun in a swordfight (see youtube clip below) which is amazing. Both are mentioned together as they both starred in THE TROJAN HORSE when Mimmo wrestles with Steve Reeves (and Giovanni as Steve's stunt double).

Mimmo still has it!

We see a bunch of not too impressive bodybuilders which starts the part when they talk about the popularity of bodybuilding which started with the success of HERCULES and Steve Reeves. It shows a woman who talks about bodybuilding (I don't know who she is) and then shows a clip from HERCULES when Herc bends the steel bar.

The amazing Steve Reeves from HERCULES; Sylva Koscina watches on.

The next bit is something I've already mentioned here several times but was totally amazed that it made in a mainstream doc: this expert (who would appear more extensively later on) talks about one the genre's most unique aspects: the upskirt phenomenon and shows a clip with Peter Lupus and a white circle around his package just in case viewers missed the point (below). I started to wonder: did I make this documentary? 

Moira Orfei

We see the first glimpse of Moira Orfei and they show several clips from her films. Moira runs a big Circus in Italy. She seems quite lively and fun when they made this documentary. After that, we see some great black and white photos I've never seen before, including a great one with Giovanni Cianfriglia from GIANT OF MARATHON which I'll post here one day. This leads to Giovanni talking about his experience working with Steve Reeves and a man joins him as he also participated in the filming some film with Reeves. I don't know who he is (he's the one on the far left in photo below).

We're not even 10 minutes in and we already had all of this. Phew. We see Moira Orfei talking about Steve Reeves(?) or bodybuilders in general eating lots of chocolate? Then we see an old clip of Bartolomeo Pagano eating a box of chocolate. Don't ask.

Bud Spencer makes his second appearance and what I could figure out was that Bud unofficially became the new Maciste/Bartolomeo Pagano and they show clips of Bud smashing things and punching a bunch of men from his films. Cool. It also shows a passport photo of Bud when he was young.

Bud Spencer: the then new Bartolomeo Pagano?

A young Bud Spencer

The documentary becomes more serious as it talks about SCIPIO AFRICANUS (but no CABIRIA...hmm...). Then there's a bit about ULYSSES starring Kirk Douglas. This part was too long, too many scenes. Then a few scenes from HERCULES UNCHAINED and Sylvia Lopez. And then Brad Harris jogging in Rome. Huh, what? Wow. And then Brad Harris standing in front of the big statues from BEN-HUR. 

Brad Harris jogging near the Colosseum

Brad Harris next to the BEN-HUR statues at Cinecitta

We see some clips of Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay from THE LOVES OF HERCULES (or Herc vs the Hydra). Love the shot below.

The eternal real life PEPLUM couple

Director Antonio Margheriti is interviewed at his home. Antonio directed many PEPLUM films, including GIANTS OF ROME and ANTHAR THE INVINCIBLE.

We see props and statues stored somewhere. Then it's a brief profile on Gordon Mitchell with someone I couldn't identify and they show clips of FURY OF ACHILLES. The end of the documentary basically talks about Spaghetti Westerns and production designers, some extended scenes from MACISTE IN HELL starring Kirk Morris and Helene Channel. It fades aways with love scenes, of our heroes kissing the girl.

I have to say that this documentary was one amazing surprise. It's the best christmas gift I've had in a while. We need more stuff like this, in English or at least with English subs. 


S.R.Orsulak said...

Where can I get a copy of this?

PEPLUM cinema said...

The documentary is available on any KINO KOLOSSAL DVD, which is where I got it. I don't know if you can download from somewhere.