Saturday, August 31, 2013

Photo of the Day

Olympia (Marilù Tolo) and Livia (Elisabetta Fanti) are bitter enemies in THE MAGNIFICENT GLADIATOR

Marilù appeared in 7 films before making this and she was only 20 years old when she filmed it. For some reason this shocked me.

Back on Monday.

Introducing Paul Newman

Paul Newman's first major motion picture was THE SILVER CHALICE and was fourth listed during the credits with an auspicious "and introducing..." (which is usually reserved for new starlets). Mr Newman hated this film and was apparently forced to do it. This was his first and last Sword & Sandal film.


The descendants of Atlantis are now living on a moon around Jupiter. A bunch of American astronauts land there and discover the 'lost' civilization. So goes the story of FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE. The film includes the typical PEPLUM clichés of dancing girls and sacrifice chambers, etc. The sets and murals are decidedly more PEPLUM than sci-fi. This super low budget film was released on Blu-Ray!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Photo of the Day

Tekaet (Federica Ranchi) and Nofret (Vera Silenti) seek the help of Maciste (Mark Forest) in SON OF SAMSON

The wigs on the two actresses make it difficult to identify them. I think I got it right. Excellent PEPLUM film with a pectacular Mark Forest in his second film. Much better than the fun but wonky GOLIATH & THE DRAGON.

Lobby cards set: DESERT WARRIOR

Rare black & white lobby cards set for Desert Warrior. Not too repetitive even though card no 2 seems superfluous. No close-up photo of Ricardo which seems to be a big oversight. Selection is slightly above average. This film, btw, is in colour.

Finding the elusive Roberto Messina

The elusive Roberto, along with his brother Emilio, in a very brief appearance in COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA

Roberto Messina is an Italian actor/stuntman who appeared in dozens and dozens of productions from 1961 to 1992  and like the majority of actors of the era he started in PEPLUM films. His brother, Emilio, is a true PEPLUM star having appeared in major roles in more than one production. But finding Roberto is something different. I knew how he looked like in his films from the 1970s but could never find him in a Sword & Sandal flick. The Italian film companies didn't seem to care much about who got credit and didn't get it. As far as I know now Roberto's appearances probably lasted no more than 10 seconds in every PEPLUM films he made (no wonder I couldn't find him) and sometimes got credit while his more famous brother Emilio got as much screen time or even more screen time and he didn't get credit. Go figure. Anyway, after a long and arduous search here are some of Roberto's (fleeting) appearances.

Here's Roberto next to Jeff Cameron in SPARTACUS & THE 10 GLADIATORS. He appears for about 10 seconds in this film.

Roberto in MACISTE - GLADIATOR OF SPARTA. Emilio is also in this film but he's uncredited at IMDb. This sequence was reused in THE MAGNIFICENT GLADIATOR but Roberto's scene was cut but not Emilio's.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Photo of the Day

Brian Thompson as Hercules in JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (2000)

Whether you like this film or not or whatever one has to say about the updated Hallmark version of this story you can't criticize this casting choice. Thompson as Hercules is one of the best Hercules ever along with Steve Reeves. An definite improvement of the 1963 film. As for the rest of the production well...

Video games art by Boris Vallejo

Same set, different films

This set was reused several times in many PEPLUM films, more than the examples here. The set basically looked the same with a few cosmetic changes. The first 3 screengrabs are from films starring  Richard Harrison.



THE LAST GLADIATOR (aka Messalina against the Son of Hercules)


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Photo of the Day

Moira Orfei in REVENGE OF THE CONQUERED (Drakut)

Moira is a bad girl in this story (as usual) and this scene is probably the best in the whole film. It's almost impossible to explain but I'll try it: Moira is part of a gang of gypsies. The head of the gypsies (not seen in this screenshot but it happens in this moment) pretends to be a clairvoyant and in this scene she is trying to worm Moira's character out by pretending to know that a certain someone in the group is in cahoots with the villains of the Kingdom they've settled in. The head of the gypsies is looking into a crystal ball and says the image of the snitch is getting clearer and clearer and the identity will soon be revealed which makes Moira's character panic and she runs away, basically revealing her intentions to her people by herself. Love Moira and thank god she was in this film or else it would have been dull, dull, dull. 

It's not bad but it not really memorable, or memorable for all the wrong reasons. Many scenes were cut  and the order of some scenes were rearranged as well for the English version but the changes don't make a big difference to the story. The cast also includes the tall and impressive but lifeless Burt Nelson and the stunning Wandisa Guida, who's really good and never looked better. But the script is dire. It *really* feels like a kids film BUT there are scenes of torture, people being burned alive, a joke gone REALLY wrong with decapitated prisoners (yes, you read that right) which results in the killing of Burt Nelson's mom (with no further consequences) and some attempted 'funny' sexual assault from the 'good' guys. Very bizarre script. The cinematography is stunning though. 

Upcoming project: Ridley Scott's EXODUS

“Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver and John Turturro have been tapped to join the cast of Fox’s Moses pic “Exodus,” starring Christian Bale.

Paul is still in negotiations while Weaver and Turturro’s deals are closed.

Ridley Scott is directing the epic drama with Peter Chernin producing for his Chernin Entertainment banner as well as Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch through their Film Rites shingle.

Paul will play the Hebrew slave Joshua who goes on to lead the people onto the promised land after Moses.

Weaver and Turturro will portray the parents of the pharoah Ramses, which will be played by Joel Edgerton.


Oh Moses, Moses!

Seriously, Steven Spielberg is set to make his own Moses film called "GODS AND KINGS" will there be too many Moses epics?

L'aventure fantastique du Henry le chevalier

Facebook friend and regular blog reader Enrique Dueñas Gonzalez created this short film.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Photo of the Day

Al Pacino in REVOLUTION (1985)

I remember watching this film back in the day on VHS and halfway through it I had to press the stop button on the vcr. I thought then that it was a mess and still do even though I haven't seen it since. The film was one of the biggest disasters of the 1980s and effectively killed off the career of director Hugh Hudson and permanently derailed or temporarely derailed the careers of Nastassja Kinski and Donald Shuterland who was cringeworthy bad. I couldn't understand a thing anyone was saying. A real muddled mess. Some reviewers (from The Guardian and such) have recently claimed the film isn't the disaster it was branded as and it needs a re-evaluation, certainly after the director's cut was made available on a beautiful DVD transfer. Today, I've slowly realized though that sometimes what was considered a disaster back then now looks positively brilliant compared to many dreadful films of today therefore I'm willing to check it out again but no director's cut can remove the film's biggest liability: a totally miscast Al Pacino. Painful.

Brazilian Gladiator spoof

Brazilian TV series called AVENTURAS DO DIDI spoofed Roman gladiators with real life mixed martial artist Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira aka the Minotauro with Renato Aragão as Didi. I couldn't find any video on Youtube of this. Reminds me of the Toto films from Italy.

The Minoan palace of Knossos, Crete

Informative video. It's worth watching. I'd love to go there one day.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Photo of the Day

Liana Orfei, as Camilla, in WAR OF THE TROJANS (aka The Avenger)

Is this a spoiler? Liana is good in this film but her hairdo which, thankfully, is not visible in this shot is very anachronistic with a 1960s bob. It's a definite hairdon't.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster for THE MIGHTY URSUS

It captures the spirit of the film even if the blonde girl doesn't look like Maria Luisa Merlo

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Photo of the Day

The captain of the guards (Raf Baldassarre) tells Ismene (Laura Efrikian) of her fate and how he wouldn't sacrifice her in HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN.

A captive woman!

This was Laura's first and last PEPLUM film. She made around 20+ films but only one from the Sword & Sandal genre. On the other hand Raf made tons of PEPLUM films and was perfect for the genre, almost always playing a villain in a supporting role.

Back on Monday!


FABIOLA is a big epic film with a lot for the crew to keep track of in order to maintain the continuity of the production go smoothly. But this classic film is filled with continuity errors. Here's an example: In the above screen grab two gladiators are fighting each other (the one in white played by Henri Vidal). Notice how short the tunics are. In the following shot...

...the length of the tunic the other gladiator suddenly changes and it's much longer in length...and then in the following shot...

...the tunic is back to short again. Oops...


Georges Marchal discuss some details with a crew member (director?) while Dominique Boschero watches on during the making of ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES. Both Dominique and Georges are French so I wonder if some members of the crew spoke French as well.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo of the Day

A feast/orgy from THE SILVER CHALICE

What's for diner?

Flapper PEPLUM

Maria Corda and Alice Adair in a publicity photo for THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HELEN OF TROY. It's funny how films set in antiquity cannot escape the times they were made.

Like father, like son

PEPLUM star Giacomo Rossi Stuart in 7 SLAVES AGAINST ROME; his son Kim Rossi Stuart, who's an established actor in Italy. Kim has done a couple of PEPLUM films of his own such as THE GARDEN OF EDEN.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Photo of the Day

Sarah (Sandra Milo) worries about losing Aaron (Alberto Lupo) in HEROD THE GREAT

A real PEPLUM that seemingly no one likes: action and muscle fans don't like this because there's too much drama; picky history fans don't like this; uber religious fans don't like this because it's not religious enough; atheist hate this film because they think it's religious propaganda; serious film fans dismiss it because they think it's melodramatic junk; etc. It's a film with no love except from ME. I love this film!

It's a 100% pure PEPLUM film : great production values, great cast, a dash of melodrama, of political scheming, etc. All the PEPLUM ingredients are there except for beefcake but handsome Alberto is commanding, shirt or no shirt on. There is some cheesecake in this production, as this screenshot can attest. I believe this lack of love all stems from the reason that this is a story who's lead character is 'evil'. It's difficult to do a likeable film based on a villain, right? It doesn't help that the US cut version is terrible too.

Busty Sandra Milo didn't do many PEPLUM films. 2 or 3. Alberto is a veteran of the genre. Lupo is a major supporting character who happens to have a love interest (Milo) which is sorta rare unless the supporting character is evil and his love interest is an evil woman as well.

Wonder Woman: The Trial of Diana Prince preview

Artwork by Yanick Paquette and written by Grant Morrison. Morrison claims he's resurrecting Wonder Woman with a new origins storyline which is set deeply in Greek mythology. The graphic novel is not completed yet.

Pompeii - Official Teaser Trailer (2014)

New teaser for POMPEII. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. 

I could say a lot about the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake/SPARTACUS TV show feel to it but I'll just use one word: murky. Kit Harington, from GAME OF THRONES, is the main star.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Photo of the Day

A scene from THE LOVES OF PHARAOH (1922)

I finally have this rare film. As this screengrab shows, the silent style of (over)acting is present which doesn't bother me but it is turned up in this film. I'll play this on PEPLUM TV one day even though I know many do not like silent films. Visually it's quite a feast so it's worth watching once.

PEPLUM versions of magazines

Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra

I created this cover in my ongoing series of mock covers.

Anita Ekberg interview

The blog's most popular post (see left sidebar) is a Then & Now with Anita Ekberg. I admit that the (original) current photo was not very flattering. In this interview, which is in two parts, she's much more like the old (younger) Anita with some weight on. It's great to see her so feisty. A real PEPLUM star. (I'm replacing the old unflattering photo at the T&N post with this screenshot)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Photo of the Day

David Prowse is The Strongman in VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972)

Not a PEPLUM film but David Prowse would have made a great PEPLUM star. He went on to play Darth Vader in the original STAR WARS series after this spooky Hammer film. Most Fanboys today know of David than Steve Reeves.

Thundarr the Barbarian

I vaguely remember watching this when I was young but I can't tell you any specific episodes while other cartoons, like the TARZAN one well I remember it as if it was yesterday. I'd love to watch it today and I have ound a place where they have a few episodes but I'm too lazy to start watching the entire series from beginning to end.


PEPLUM star Antonella Lualdi, of MY SON THE HERO and THE MONGOLS among many other titles

Jean Simmons' LUX ad in connection with THE ROBE

Sophia Loren

Monday, August 19, 2013

Photo of the Day

Rudolph Valentino in THE YOUNG RAJAH

The story is about a young prince who was whisked away as a child to live in exile in the US because his kingdom is at war somewhere in India. The young prince slowly realizes his fate/background since he's a direct descendent of Krishna and has supernatural powers of foresight. He tries to return to his kingdom and reclaim his throne. I love stories like this.

It's considered a lost film even though TCM reconstructed it from stills and the few remaining film reels left in existence. When I saw this I went wow! Only Rudolph Valentino could pull off such a display of 'exotica' in a man. Something tells me that Xerxes in 300 was 'inspired' by this.

Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian art for THE GORGON

Beautiful poster. Brazzi was one handsome man.