Sunday, September 30, 2012

Photo of the Day

Messalina (Yvonne Sanson) and Nero (Gino Cervi) plot something in NERO & THE BURNING OF ROME (Italian title: Nerone e Messalina)

One of those films I haven't seen and never saw it available anywhere. Gino Cervi was an actor that was pretty much in demand. He was great in THE QUEEN OF SHEBA and other PEPLUM films (a few directed by Pietro Francisci). Yvonne Sanson was a popular French actress, with a perfect PEPLUM name. She was a household name back in the day but today, like Gino, she's mostly forgotten. I tried to find a scene of Nero playing with his lyre but couldn't find one.

Cinematic Confusion

VHS cover for THE LION OF THEBES. When I saw this I laughed out loud. OK cover but not for this film. Doesn't even look like Mark Forest (name is misspelled) or Yvonne Furneaux. I'd like to see this movie. Arf.

Nero and his lyre while Rome burns

Is there a more iconic PEPLUM moment than Nero playing with his lyre while Rome burns? Here are a few examples. The 1984 mini-series of QUO VADIS doesn't show Nero, played by Klaus Maria Brandauer, with his lyre while Rome burns. Not good.

Carlo Cattaneo as Nero in QUO VADIS (1912)

(provided by Facebook friend Epic Movies)

Charles Laughton as Nero in SIGN OF THE CROSS

Nero played by Gino Cervi in NERO AND THE BURNING OF ROME (provided by Facebook friend Epic Movies)

The most iconic moment from QUO VADIS with Peter Ustinov as Nero

It might be difficult to see but Nero (Vladimir Medar) is playing the lyre as Rome burns in FIRE OVER ROME.

Michal Bajor as Nero in QUO VADIS (2001)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Photo of the Day

Marcian (Jeff Chandler) salutes Princess Pulcheria (Ludmilla Tchérina) in SIGN OF THE PAGAN

I mentioned Jeff Chandler in a post a few days ago (the Ed Fury/Joan Crawford film). Jeff was pretty good in this film but his role is overlooked because of Jack Palance's showy performance as Attila. Jeff was pretty much overlooked his entire career and he died at 42 on the operating table. He made several b-movie PEPLUM films before this bigger film from Universal. Ludmilla had already starred in SPARTACO (Sins of Rome) so she was familiar with the genre. I don't know what's going on with Jeff's hair in this photo but it's funny. The soldier in the background is also funny. The uniform was obviously too big for him.

They had to start somewhere

Sophia Loren, 15 years old, participates in a beauty pageant in Naples. She was second place.

Canadian PEPLUM stars

For a country with a small population, Canada has certainly contributed a lot to the PEPLUM genre. With a pretty eclectic mix of personalities, including one muscleman, in the form of Samson Burke. Christopher Plummer is probably the most celebrated actor from the list (he finally won an Oscar® last year for best supporting actor) and his energetic performance in FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE actually helped make the long film watchable. I wanted to add Barry Morse to the list but he was born and died in the UK even though he lived most of his life in Canada. I'll try to list actors from other various countries in upcoming posts.

Uploaded to Special Features page

Christopher Plummer as Commodus in THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE; Chris was born in Toronto.

Samson Burke in THE 3 STOOGES MEET HERCULES; Samson was born in Montreal.

Montreal native William Shatner acts it up to Joseph Cotten in the failed TV series ALEXANDER THE GREAT.

Lang Jeffries from FIRE OVER ROME. Lang was born in Ontario. Lang had a pretty solid streak in the PEPLUM genre.

André Lawrence, from Montreal, in 7 FROM THEBES

Geneviève Bujold made several films set in Medieval times but she also played Cleopatra in a TV production of George Bernard Shaw's CAESAR & CLEOPATRA with Alec Guiness.

Canadian born Stephen Forsyth is being strangled by Alberto Lupo in REVENGE OFTHE CRUSADERS, written by Riccardo Freda.

Yvonne de Carlo played Sephora in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS with Charlton Heston as Moses; I wasn't aware she was from Canada; born in Vancouver. Yvonne appeared in a couple of other S&S films, including some made in Italy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Photo of the Day

Jason (Todd Armstrong) and his Argonaut crew await a response from the bust of Hera in JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963)

Remarkably, the film wasn't a financial success when released in 1963. Too many filmgoers apparently thought this was another dubbed Italian mini-epic (I guess a lot of people hated them by then which makes me sad). Ray Harryhausen didn't care much for the Italian PEPLUM genre and wanted to distance his films from them but this one was a virtual Italian production, with location filming all over Italy and scenes reminiscent of those from HERCULES (1958) and THE GIANTS OF THESSALY (1960). The financial failure of JASON probably stung Ray more than anything else and made him hate the Italian PEP genre even more. He didn't do many films after that and didn't make another Sword & Sandal film in a decade, with GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD in 1973. By then there were no more Italian PEPLUM films being made so it was safe for him to venture back in the same genre as JASON & THE ARGONAUTS, which eventually became a hit with TV viewers.

The buff fellow on the left of Todd, in the white loincloth, is Doug Robinson, brother of PEPLUM star Joe Robinson, of the THOR/TAUR films. I'll have more about Doug and Joe in a future post.

Ancient statue discovered by Nazis is made from meteorite

An ancient Buddhist statue that was recovered by a Nazi expedition in the 1930s was originally carved from a highly valuable meteorite.  

Researchers say the 1,000-year-old object with a swastika on its stomach is made from a rare form of iron with a high content of nickel. They believe it is part of the Chinga meteorite, which crashed about 15,000 years ago. The findings appear in the Journal, Meteoritics and Planetary Science. The 24cm (9-inch) tall statue is 10kg (22lb) and is called the Iron Man.


The swastika predates Nazi Germany and they probably saw it as a sign. Something tells me they'll make a movie out of this.

Who wore it best?


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Photo of the Day

Maciste (Kirk Morris) tries to survive a perilous feat of strength in TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (aka Triumph of the Son of Hercules)

One of the most famous Feat of Strengths of the entire PEPLUM explosion. They even made a popular TV commercial with this scene. I might just do a banner with this image. Again, it's one of those films I like to watch on a regular basis.

Before they were PEPLUM Stars

Can you spot the future PEPLUM star? Yes, that's Ed Fury in a deliriously trashy Joan Crawford vehicle called FEMALE ON THE BEACH. Ed plays a gigolo blackmailed by the old couple (that's Natalie Schafer there) into servicing lonely older women and stealing their money! Jeff Chandler, not pictured, is also in this and plays a blackmailed gigolo with his eyes set on Joan Crawford. What a film. It's on Youtube for now, taken from a VHS recording. It's also available on DVD in a better quality but only in a super expensive pack. I'm not interested in the other films, just this one. I hate these kind of packaging.

Herbert Lom RIP

Veteran actor Herbert Lom died today. He was 95 years old. Herbert appeared in a couple of big productions which fall under the PEPLUM genre. He was Tigranes Levantus in Stanley Kubrick's SPARTACUS (above) and THE BIG FISHERMAN (below). He more famous for playing Chief inspector Dreyfus in THE PINK PANTHER series. He made tons of movies. You can watch many clips here at this link: A Career in clips.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Photo of the Day

Jacques Sernas corners Steve Reeves and Virna Lisi in DUEL OF THE TITANS (aka Romulus and Remus)

Those spears couldn't cut through cheese if they'd tried. Ok, some fashion talk: what Virna is wearing is truly unflattering. In fact, most of her clothes in this film are disappointing. It's odd because most costumes of female leads in other PEP films are fairly beautiful and believable. It's possible to have frumpy clothes and still make it look great on someone. Not this. As for what Jacques is wearing. A sort of poncho/tunic/bib. You can view it better in this image. I don't know what it is but I want one.


Hercules and Telephus - artist unknown, originally from Herculaneum.

Hercules recognizes his natural son Telephus (suckled by a doe in lower left), in the presence of Arcadia (seated.). The scene represents the founding myth of the Attalid rulers of Pergamum.

Then & Now: Rossana Podestà

Babe of the month for September is Rossana Podestà so to top it off here's a Then & Now: Rossana in HELEN OF TROY; the most recent photo of Rossana

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Photo of the Day


Here comes the entire army of Carthage. 

REVAK is one hell of a (unintentionally) funny film. I might include this scene in another compilation.

Steve Reeves: Natural or not?

I came across a forum (link) where a poster wrote a convoluted post about how Steve Reeves wasn't a natural bodybuilder and describes his use of steroids. There's been some debate on this: when did Steve hear about steroids (according to Steve he only heard about the drug in the mid-60s) and was he really natural  as he always claimed to be? Personally, I believe he was natural. His body is cut (in the top photo) but he just doesn't have the typical steroid physique.

Uploaded to the HEROES & BEEFCAKE page

PEPLUM Babe of the Month: Rossana Podestà

Rossana Podestà was a regular face in PEPLUM films for nearly 10 years. She first appeared in ULYSSES (1954) with Kirk Douglas and quickly made HELEN OF TROY (1956), directed by Robert Wise and co-starring Jacques Sernas. It was unusual for a Hollywood made epic to star two relatively unknown European actors who's voices had to be dubbed. Unfortunately her Hollywood career was cut short because the film wasn't a success and Rossana's career was relegated to European films, including other PEPLUM films. For 10 years she didn't seem to age at all, looking basically the same in all of them: a captivating beauty who could act. Rossana also appeared in THE SLAVE OF ROME which was Photo of the Day yesterday.

Uploaded to the BABES & BEAUTIES page

A young Rossana Podestà watches the wrestling match in ULYSSES

Rossana as Helen in HELEN OF TROY

Rossana with Jacques Sernas in HELEN OF TROY

Comic book cover for the Robert Wise epic

Rossana shared the screen with Yvonne De Carlo in THE SWORD & THE CROSS



Publicity photo for SODOM & GOMORRAH

Rossana Podestà lets a horse quench its thirst while filming SODOM & GOMORRAH

Monday, September 24, 2012

Photo of the Day

Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Rossana Podestà and Guy Madison are quarrelling in THE SLAVE OF ROME

One of those films I can watch on a regular basis. A solid Roman adventure. My only complaint, if it should be regarded as a complaint, is the lack of sets. A huge part of the film was shot outside in a forest with few expensive sets to give it a sexy gleam of glamor.

Movie Poster Mondays


Whimsical screwball comedy about Greek gods coming to life for one night. Showing a book on a poster was a popular thing back in the 1930s. It automatically informs that the film was based on a prestigious book. This poster looks more like an ad than your average poster but that's mainly due to the fact that the film has almost no stars in it. As for the film itself, imo, it should have spent more time with the Gods than the humans.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Photo of the Day

Gump (David Bennent), Brown Tom (Cork Hubbert), Jack (Tom Cruise) and Screwball (Billy Barty) are prisoners in Darkness' lair in LEGEND

Fantasy films sometimes do fall under the PEPLUM umbrella even though I have some reluctance to include them (just look at the link with the list of titles). THE MAGIC SWORD with Gary Lockwood and Basil Rathbone is definitely a PEPLUM so why not this one? Fantasy films like LORD OF THE RINGS are borderline PEP but just so because of the whole sci-fi/fantasy/other-wordly elements to them but LEGEND is a fairly basic fairytale so here it is. The production design of LEGEND is utterly brilliant. The script is utterly terrible. A mixed bag.

PEPLUM stars in the real world

Steve Reeves at the market with some lady friend. Great photo.

JOSHUA - 12" bronze statue

Great detailing on the Old Testament character.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Photo of the Day

Rik Battaglia and Gordon Scott swing into action in THE LION OF SAINT MARK

Fast paced, great costumes and sets, cool cast including Gianna Maria Canale. What more do you need for a good PEP time?

* there's an extra photo at the facebook page