Saturday, November 30, 2013

Photo of the Day

Geneviève Grad finds a wounded Jacques Sernas in THE CONQUEROR OF CORINTH

How many times has Sernas played a wounded character who washes-up on some sea shore or like this one, a beautiful stranger finding him crawling and wounded and then taking care of him AND falling in love with him. I have to do a compilation of all these scenes.

Back on Monday!

Bad trends : 'medievalling' PEPLUM stories

There's a trend in many new Sword and Sandal films to move away from the usual look of old films and make Greek stories or stories set in Antiquity in other exotic settings look more Medieval than anything their actual setting or customs or clothes. Personally, I don't like it one bit. This is probably due to the success of the LORD OF THE RINGS series and many film producers try to jump on the bandwagon and not go to the more accurate look.

The new comic book KING CONAN; as someone who grew up with Frazetta and Boris Vallejo's exotic interpretations of CONAN this comic book cover is not really exotic. Looks like plain old King Arthur.

The CONAN THE BARBARIAN remake was decidedly more Medieval looking than the original film. It was a big flop and the series is basically dead because of it.

HERCULES (2005) mini-series starring Paul Telfer and Sean Austin didn't look Greek at all. Filmed in  New Zealand the locations also don't look Greek. Bleech. The influence of LORD OF THE RINGS?

Liam Neeson as Zeus in the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake. His armour looks like something straight from EXCALIBUR not Greek mythology. Below, also from the same film, looks like Robin Hood.

Tragic Stars : Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray, born Maria Luisa Mangini, died on February 16, 2011. Gray committed suicide by gunshot at her home in Torcegno. She was 83 years old (while 'officially' she was 75 years old). Dorian appeared in a couple of PEPLUM films, including COLOSSUS & THE AMAZONS and THE QUEEN OF SHEBA. Her career lasted 14 years, from 1951 to 1965. She retired from acting in 1965 and disappeared from the public eye as well (like several PEPLUM stars). Even though she seemingly lived a full life killing oneself at any age is always tragic.

Posted at the TRAGIC STARS page



Friday, November 29, 2013

Photo of the Day

Kellan Lutz as Hercules in the soon to be released HERCULES : THE LEGEND BEGINS

Now this looks like Hercules-style action even if the film, which some say will go straight for the home market, looks nothing like the story of Hercules. We'll have to wait and see eventually…oh and there can never be too many PEPLUM films so it doesn't matter too much if it strays a bit (or much?) from the original source.

Additional photos of Kellan at PEPLUM X: here and here.


Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor celebrating Taylor's birthday during the filming of CLEOPATRA

PEPLUM star postcards

Postcards with movie stars were popular in Europe and here a just a few postcards from various countries with PEPLUM stars.

Jacques Sernas (for HELEN OF TROY)

Sylva Koscina

Mario Girotti (Terence Hill)

Margaret Lee

Massimo Serato

Yoko Tani

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Photo of the Day

Howard Ross (Renato Rossini), Nadir Moretti, Mark Forest and Ken Clark in HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS

Cool photo with all 4 action stars. One of my favourite PEPLUM films ever!

Vintage article : Anita Ekberg filming ZARAK

Here are some pages of an article showing photos of Anita Ekberg filming ZARAK

Statues commemorating King Leonidas

The Leonidas monument in Thermopylae

The statue at the Archeological Museum in Sparta…the inscription says "If you dare come and get them."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Photo of the Day

Steve Reeves, as Karim, meet a group of nymphs(?) in THIEF OF BAGHDAD

This brief scene is cut from the US version. This screenshot was taken from a French version (sorry about the quality). In that version Karim walks away from the waterfalls and comes across these women who all run away and then we see Karim heading to where they went. In the US cut, Karim walks away from the waterfall and we see him run directly to the palacial grounds. It's really not an important scene, which is more awkward than anything else and one of the women is not attractive so the cut is no big deal.

Back on Thursday…

PEPLUM fashion : Trousers in Antiquity

Trousers first enter recorded history in the 6th century BCE, with the appearance of horse-riding Iranian peoples in Greek ethnography. At this time, not only the Persians, but also allied Eastern and Central Asian peoples such as the Bactrians, Armenians, Tigraxauda Scythians and Xiongnu Hunnu, are known to have worn them. Trousers are believed to have been worn by both sexes among these early users.

The ancient Greeks used the term anaxyrides for the trousers worn by Eastern nations and sarabara for the loose trousers worn by the Scythians. However, they did not wear trousers since they thought them ridiculous, using the word thulakoi,  of thulakos, "sack", as a slang term for the loose trousers of Persians and other orientals.

Republican Rome viewed the draped clothing of Greek and Minoan (Cretan) culture as an emblem of civilization and disdained trousers as the mark of barbarians. As the Empire expanded beyond the Mediterranean basin, however, the greater warmth provided by trousers led to their adoption. Two types of trousers eventually saw widespread use in Rome: the Feminalia, which fit snugly and usually fell to knee or mid-calf length, and the Braccae, a loose-fitting trouser that was closed at the ankles. Both garments were adopted originally from the Celts of Europe, although later familiarity with the Persian Near East and the Teutons increased acceptance.


A form of 'feminalia'


I'm fascinated by the history of fashion and the reason (or reasons) when men in Antiquity transitioned from tunics and togas to plain old trousers. It took a long time but eventually all men in Western cultures wear only pants. The barbarians won!

Same scene, different films

Two different films with almost the same identical scene: same confrontation between Arab and a Crusader, same desert location (it looks like the same spot), same camera angle. Two screenshots are from KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS and the two other are from KINGDOM OF HEAVEN directed by Ridley Scott. Guess which is which? The scenes are identical except in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN Orlando Bloom is duelling on the ground, not on horseback as in KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS and I didn't include any screenshot from that moment as it would have given it away. It's quite mind-boggling. Scott copied the scene almost shot per shot.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Photo of the Day

Arnoldo Foà, Liana Orfei and Orson Welles in THE TARTARS

Though the story is pure enjoyable PEPLUM pulp the production values are more A-movie quality. The sets are amazing, including that big statue in the background. The film is available on DVD from Warner archive. This screenshot is from an Italian TV broadcast. It's good but the image quality from the DVD is even better making the film look like a million bucks.

Movie Poster Mondays

German poster (or title card) for CONAN THE DESTROYER

Burning action!

Funny PEPLUM moments (intentional or not)

Compilation of funny moments, intentional or not (mostly not...) of PEPLUM films. I like all of these films but there are some unintentionally funny moments here and there so here's bunch of scenes which make me giggle or laugh out loud or make me go WTH?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Photo of the Day

Gianna Maria Canale looking like royalty in a Roman litter from SLAVE OF CARTHAGE (1956; aka The Sword and the Cross)

One of those films with an unsatisfactory title. SLAVE OF CARTHAGE is ok but it's sorta dull. SWORD AND THE CROSS is even less satisfactory. It's also known as SLAVE GIRLS OF CARTHAGE which is too cheesy. Gianna made this before appearing in HERCULES. No English copy can be found anywhere.

Back on Monday

The curious case of ALEXANDER

ALEXANDER, the Oliver Stone version starring Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie, is a curious PEPLUM. During it's theatrical release, it bombed at the box office. The 3 hour film only made $34 million in North America with bigger box office returns in overseas market. It still didn't make any profit though. Reviews were brutal and Oliver Stone says that the film's portrayal of Alexander as a bisexual man was blown out of proportion by fundies. Needless to say, no one was left happy with the end result. A group in Greece even tried to sue Stone and Warner for defaming Alexander's history. The case didn't make it to court.

Even after 9 years the saga of this troubled film isn't over. There are now 4 different versions. The original theatrical version is 175 minutes long. When it was released on DVD for the first time, Stone re-edited down (removing most of the bisexual stuff) to 168 minutes. But then Stone decided to do an extended version, calling 'ALEXANDER REVISITED: THE FINAL UNRATED CUT' and it's 214 minutes long. Stone nicknamed this one the Cecil B Demille version. But if that wasn't enough Stone thought he added too much stuff in the 3rd cut and re-edited again in a fourth version called the ULTIMATE CUT, at 206 minutes. This cut was released in November 2012. Confusing.

PEPLUM stars in swimsuits

Dominique Boschero

Elaine Stewart

PEPLUM couple Edmund Purdom and Linda Christian

The chiseled Steve Reeves

Charlton Heston

Friday, November 22, 2013

Photo of the Day

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) has to decide which is the real Dejah Thoris (both played by Lynn Collins) in JOHN CARTER

This film, described as a 'Cosmic PEPLUM' by French newspaper Le Monde, didn't miss a beat in the PEPLUM Clichés department, including the 'Seeing Double' cliché.

Posted at the PEPLUM Clichés page.

PEPLUM publicity campaign

Elaborate publicity campaign prop for the release of Robert Wise's HELEN OF TROY. Cool stuff.

Lobby Cards Set : THE TARTARS

US lobby cards set for THE TARTARS; good set with 3 cards showcasing the actors. But card 2 and 8 (and the title card) are pretty poor and it would have been great if they had used those to show Bella Cortez or some of the many spectacular scenes. So it's average.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Photo of the Day

Maciste (Kirk Morris) using his strength to stop a deadly torture device in MACISTE VS THE CZAR (aka Atlas vs the Czar)

Fun film. Kirk is in top form and the Russian setting, though always very PEPLUM, is a nice change from the usual. My only complaints: the beginning is a bit slow (it's padded) and Massimo Serato's dubbed voice is terrible. But aside from those details it's one of those films I like watching again and again. Exclusive photo from

Then and Now : Julie Newmar

A young Julie Newmar, star of SLAVES OF BABYLON (1953) ; a photo of Julie taken this week. She's 80 years old.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad soundtrack

Bernard Herrmann is the composer. I didn't upload this.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Photo of the Day

Electra (Irene Papas) is not too happy about the arrival of Klytaemnistra (Aleka Katselli) in ELECTRA (1962)

Typically somber film on Greek mythology. The films of director Mihalis Kakogiannis are unique works but they are difficult to program. You can't play one of these films between THE LOVES OF HERCULES and MY SON THE HERO. I personally wouldn't have issues with it but it would drive away viewers at my PEPLUM TV channel. Oddly enough, Italians celebrated Greeko-Roman history and mythology with wild abandon while the Greeks kept it dead serious. Kakogiannis would also direct the equally stark THE TROJAN WOMEN and IPHIGENIA. Great film.

Back on Thursday

Captain Barbell - PEPLUM connection

Pages from a Filipino comic book superhero called CAPTAIN BARBELL. The first issues shows a bunch of bodybuilders, most of them stars of the PEPLUM cinema, and the mythical heroes they played. Odd connection but there you go. It's also odd to see Victor Mature (drawing doesn't look like VM) amongst bodybuilders. Victor, who was always on the pudgy side, was most definitely not a bodybuilder. Several films based on the comic book have been made since 1964.

Mystery actor : another spotting (UPDATE)

It appears that the actors name is Takis Kavouras. Regular blog reader Scott sent me some info on an actor who looks exactly like the one in the photos below but older from a film made in the 1970s. Now what's interesting is that a certain Taki Karas was credited for THE GIANTS OF THESSALY, his biggest PEPLUM role. Initially I thought that the actor's name was Taki Karas but someone else, who shall remain nameless, told me that Taki Karas was a female. Well, it's now guaranteed that the Taki Karas credited for THESSALY is actually Takis Kavouras but with a slight variation of his name. Mystery solved.

 Thanks Scott.

The on-going search for the identity of a mysteriously nameless actor continues: spotted him in SIEGE OF SYRACUSE as a merchant trying to sell jewelry to Rossano Brazzi. This is the 4th spotting, with major roles in big productions like THE GIANTS OF THESSALY and this one. It's a brief role but still no identity after 4 films. Here's last month's article: link.