Thursday, January 31, 2013

Photo of the Day

Eve (Candy Wilson) an Adam (Jorge Rivero) in (THE SIN OF) ADAM & EVE

A nude PEPLUM. Probably the corniest nudie ever made. I love watching it (with finger on the fast forward button for the dull spots). This is Candy's only film performance (under that name at least). Jorge was famous before doing this with the fun SANTO films and starred in a John Wayne western after this. In the 1970s and 80s he starred mainly in exploitation films, including the Sword & Sorcery mini trash epic called CONQUEST, directed by Lucio Fulci.


The photo on this lobby card was in black & white and before printing it they added color to it except for...Serge Nubret's body. They definitely thought because he's black that he didn't need any color. Oy. Ridiculous.

Julius Caesar: why so difficult to cast?

It seems Hollywood (and only Hollywood) rarely got Jullius Caesar right. If he was too tall in one film he was too short in another portrayal...or too mawkish or too dull. Caesar has rarely been portrayed as a gruff and cunning man. Sadly, my idea of the perfect actor for Julius Caesar never played the emperor.

Bust of Julius Caesar

The very short Claude Rains played Julius Caesar in CAESAR & CLEOPATRA. I love this film. Very underrated and overlooked. Even good as Rains is I recognize that he was totally miscast. Rains is such a good actor that even when he's miscast he's still excellent in that role.

While the very tall Louis Calhern played Caesar in JULIUS CAESAR. Excellent actor but not my favorite by any means.

John Gavin as Julius Caesar in SPARTACUS was an interesting choice but alas his character had  minimal screen time and Gavin, good looking as he was, wasn't the best of actors.

Rex Harrison in CLEOPATRA. His Caesar was too genial, mawkish. Very little gruff.

While...'s Alberto Lupo as Octavian in SON OF CLEOPATRA. Lupo never played Caesar but if I had my way Lupo would have been my ONLY choice to play the famous emperor. An excellent actor who always gave sharp performances, always gave the impression that he was in control of everything and was very gruff while still looking intelligent, not barbaric or simple.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Photo of the Day

Hercules (Steve Reeves) and most of the Argonauts including Gabriele Antonini (Ulysses, far left); Fulvio Carrera and Andrea Fantasia (Castor and Laertes, right of Steve); Willy Colombini and Gino Mattera (as Pollux and Orpheus, far right) in HERCULES (1958)

I like this shot as almost the entire cast from the Argo is in it. Great use of the widescreen image. This is just after the attack of the monkey men.

Spot the lion tamer!

When you watch a PEPLUM film there's almost always the Hero-Battling-A-Lion scene. Depending on how they filmed it, a real lion timer is often used for some shots. Unfortunately for the filmmakers and the lion tamers, most of the actors portraying the Hero are buff and muscular making it difficult to match the tamer's physique with the bulging actors.

From MACISTE IN HELL: this lion tamer is supposed to be Kirk Morris...not quite. 

Gordon Mitchell is the star of MACISTE IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS; this lion tamer simply doesn't look like Mitchell.

 This scene is from HERCULES (1958) and he's supposed to be Mr Universe himself Steve Reeves. He's missing definition to match Steve.

In URSUS & THE VALLEY OF LIONS, lion tamer Orlando Orfei is a stand-in for Ed Fury. It's obvious that's not Ed.

New IMMORTALS-inspired fragrance commercial from Versace

New fragrance ad from Versace obviously inspired by IMMORTALS. Versace are going through some sort of PEPLUM phase like nothing I've seen before from any fashion house. It sorta makes sense since they're Italian and the PEPLUM genre originated in Italy. I'm like it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Photo of the Day

Queen Deianira (Jayne Mansfield) gets ready for her dressing with her many handmaidens in THE LOVES OF HERCULES (or Hercules vs the Hydra)

How many handmaidens does one woman need to get dressed? I think she has a dozen in this scene alone. Arf. Love this campy film. Jayne should have made more PEPLUM films. She was, eh, larger than life.

Different opening credits

One of the frustrating aspects of the PEPLUM genre is the numerous title changes, between different countries and often within the same market. This practice of changing titles created unnecessary confusion and little respect from critics and cinephiles alike for the genre. Here are two examples:


Original Italian opening credit title which translates simply as HERCULES AGAINST MOLOCH

The English/US opening credit is knowm as CONQUEST OF MYCENAE (with a title subtitle with the more direct Hercules against Moloch). For this film is particular, CONQUEST OF MYCENAE is a fairly terrible title.

The French opening credit is the same same as the Italian title. This opening credit is pretty sad looking.


Original Italian opening credit title which is identical to the English translation.

One of two versions for the English/US market. This one is the correct title.

THE INVINCIBLE GLADIATORS is the second opening credit version for the English market. It's a terrible title as the Maciste brothers are not gladiators.

German version (Google translated this as "The downfall of the rich leopard" huh?) is more about the Leopard men than the Maciste brothers.

PEPLUM Survey: who's got the most fab headgear?

Hélène Chanel in CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS or... 

Pietro Ceccarelli in COLD STEEL OF TORTUGA

Monday, January 28, 2013

Photo of the Day

The ten gladiators in action from TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS

Cool photo. Climbing walls is most definitely a staple action moment of the genre.

Movie Poster Mondays

French poster for CAESAR & CLEOPATRA

Gorgeous! I don't know if it captures the actual (talkative) essence of the film but it's beautiful. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Photo of the Day

Richard Harrison hugs Paola Pitti after a bloody fight in REVOLT OF THE PRAETORIANS

The hero gets the girl!

What movie?

Can you identify this movie from this screenshot?


Behind-the-scenes photo from WAR & PEACE with Audrey Hepburn and January PEPLUM Babe-of-the-Month Anita Ekberg. They seem a bit aloof and none too pleased. What a contrast between actresses.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Photo of the Day

Clio (Sylva Koscina) gets ready for her doomed marriage to Archimedes in SIEGE OF SYRACUSE

Beautiful production values in this film and this image is a good example. The film was co-financed by Paramount pictures and it shows. Sylva's role is a supporting one and it would be her last film directed by Pietro Francisci. 

Then & Now : Terence Hill

Terence in CARTHAGE IN FLAMES (1960); Terence today


Here are some impressive special effects shots for ASTERIX AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES. A combination of real sets (surprising) and cgi, the final look is almost seamless. The sets were built in Spain.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Photo of the Day

Rossana Podestà and Edmund Purdom in FURY OF THE PAGANS

Super rare PEPLUM not that different than GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS or the many Barbarian inspired films made in the 1960s in Italy. I finally got a hold of it and I'll be watching it this weekend on PEPLUM TV for the first time. In Italian with English subs. Oh yeah. Reviews at IMDb aren't very good but I like watching anything with Rossana and Edmund.

Nude PEPLUM stars

It's not unusual these days to find a magazines with current stars/actors in the buff. It's almost de rigueur.  But in the past, nudity was still a no no. But that didn't stop our favorite PEPLUM stars to disrobe entirely or be near nude, for the sake of art or titillation. Here are a fe examples:

Sylva Koscina, the sweet and innocent Iole from the Francisci's HERCULES films, was photographed on many occasion without clothes. You can easily find tons of her photos on them interwebs. Sylva was most definitely not shy. Uploaded to the Babes & Beauties page.

Mark Forest, aka Lou Degni, was a bodybuilder and of course disrobing for photographers comes with the job. Uploaded to the Heroes & Beefcake page.

Chelo Alonso was a saucy dancer before becoming an actress and popularized in the PEPLUM genre. Her costumes were always skimpy, showed loads of skin. I tried to find a nude photo of Chelo but couldn't find one but this is as close as she got to being nude. Uploaded to the Babes & Beauties page.

Like Mark Forest, Steve Reeves was a bodybuilder par excellence and he too took his clothes off for the sake of art. Only Steve can make a nude photo of himself showering and lathering up seem wholesome, not tawdry in the least. Arf. Uploaded to the Heroes & Beefcake page.

Spartacus : War of the Damned

The final season of the SPARTACUS series called SPARTACUS : WAR OF THE DAMNED starts tonight on Starz in the USA. This season, which takes place during the final battles between the rebellious slaves and Rome, actually sounds more interesting than the previous seasons as it will follow history to its inevitable end. The series will include large scale (computer generated) battles along with the usual slow-mo with over-the-top cgi blood gushing all over muscular actors.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Photo of the Day


This is a screenshot from an HD version I got a hold of recently. It's the most spectacular PEPLUM transfer I've ever seen. Truly dazzling. It's so sharp you can see the freckles on Reg Park's skin. IMO, the film should be tweaked a bit more to make it more sharp (tighter editing, some color correction, stuff like that) and re-release it on the big screen. It would be AMAZING. When it comes to spectacular, this film was way ahead of its time.

I wonder what happened to incredible statue. This set in CAPTIVE WOMEN is the biggest set from any Euro Sword & Sandal epics.

Who wore it best


Aspect ratio: FURY OF HERCULES

Trying to find the right version of a PEPLUM film is often a daunting task. Take FURY OF HERCULES. I've been trying to get an acceptable transfer from all over the world and I still haven't found one. It would be great that a standard would exist when transfering a film but no it's different in every country, including Italy.

German DVD (titled SAMSON..!!!)

Probably the best in image sharpness even if the print looks old and and scratchy. The aspect ratio is all wrong as the sides are cropped out, missing a lot of info. Good but not great.

Italian TV Broadcast

You'd think that Italian TV would show the film is a pretty nifty transfer but no it's not good. Almost identical to the German DVD but the frame is squished vertically. The image is fuzzy and blurry. The image also has lots of artifacts caused by the transfer.

US public Domain print

Has more info on the right that's missing from the two previous version and there's no squished image issue here but the colors are terrible and the entire blurry print is not really good.

French DVD transfer

Of all the prints, this one has the most information on the sides even if it's cropped on the top and bottom. The extra info on the sides, missing from the 3 previous versions, gives you an idea of the real widescreen format. The image is terrible and the colors are murky but it's sorta acceptable. The image is slightly squished as well; because the top and bottom are cropped, the image is, vertically speaking, incredibly narrow.

My version

 I tried to fix the French version with a slightly less narrow vertical height while retaining the extra info on the sides. The image is squished but with the top and bottom being cropped out there's no way around it. This is sorta the closest to what the right image should look like.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Photo of the Day

Epic scene from GOLIATH & THE GIANTS

I got hold of an HD Italian-only version of this film. It's quite nice and filled with details. To see a bigger picture of above click on it. It's beautiful and I'm amazed that these forgotten PEPLUM films are getting transferred to HD, in Europe at least. It's a very good sign for the genre's future.

Update: Unknown actors in PEPLUM films

I have two updates on the post from last week (see here)

Georges Ehling


The actor from REVAK THE REBEL is called Georges Ehling, a former wrestler it seems. I even found a video on Youtube profiling the former actor/wrestler. Thanks to Scott for the excellent info and the two photos above. I've been trying to figure out who he was for some time and it's now resolved. Yeah!

Ahmed Ramzy

Second, the mysterious actor in THE SON OF SPARTACUS. His name is Ahmed Ramzy. I saw some photos of him on Google but wasn't sure it was him and his name in the film is Braxus while IMDb had him credited as Murdok - A Lybian Chief. So of course there was confusion going on. But for sure it's Ahmed. On a sad note Ahmed passed away last year, in September. A belated RIP.