Thursday, September 29, 2016

By the Gods!

José Greci and Dan Vadis are lovers in THE TEN GLADIATORS

This happens at the very start of the film. In this scene they come face to face with Roman soldiers. The two have the oddest relationship in PEPLUM history. At one point Greci's character dumps Vadis for Roger Browne just at the drop of hat.

Dan doesn't look like Dan here. After making this film he got a total makeover and began to look like the Dan Vadis we all know. Greci is a veteran of the PEPLUM genre. I wonder what happened to her?

The first of 3 TEN GLADIATORS films. It's also the least worthwhile. The other two TEN GLADIATORS films are much better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

By the Gods!

Georges Marchal and Anita Ekberg in SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR

A film which suffered from a case of too many cooks. Multiple (soon-to-be famous) directors and (soon-to-be famous) writers and the final result is meh. It looks good and it looks like a PEPLUM should but the story is nothing remarkable. It's a shame because all the ingredients were there, including Marchal and Edberg as a couple. I liked them. They worked well together. I don't view this as a total flop. No. I've watched this film so many times and will continue to watch it because it feeds my craving for all things PEPLUM but I just wished the story and direction were more than meh. Also, the English title doesn't make any sense.

This is one the first films I reviewed years ago. I stopped reviewing films because no one seemed to care. I might start again if I can find some extra time. My review of the film was from viewing a poor quality copy. My estimation of it has somewhat grown with the much better widescreen copies I've got since writing that review (including one in English) but what I think of it is pretty much the same : a to and sometimes dull mess. Here's the page : Featured Film


Charlton Heston looks on as director William Wyler tries to see the best shot for a scene while filming BEN-HUR

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

By the Gods!

Roland Carey is about to kill Sandro Moretti in SWORD OF EL CID

Exciting climax of an often overlooked film. Of course, since it has El Cid in the title people tend to compare it to the Charlton Heston film which is ridiculous. Both films are totally different. Roland Carey is impressive in this film but his role is limited. He played Jason in THE GIANTS OF THESSALY. As for Sandro Moretti, aside from his unfortunate hair colour, he makes an amiable good guy in this. Moratti was in GOLIATH & THE DRAGON, as Goliath's brother (or Hercules' son in the original version). I have several copies of this and I need to do a Fan Dub of it. I have in English and in widescreen but the image quality is meh and there are some technical issues with it. 

All roads lead to Rome...

2,000-year-old Roman road revealed by building work in Rochester

Building work in a busy town centre has revealed a pristine section of a Roman road, dating back almost 2,000 years

Award-winning conservationist and developer Mark Lucas and his son Zac bought the unit to renovate and convert into a shop - without knowing for certain the road was there.

The pair were tipped off about the potentially historic find at the bottom of the five-storey Grade II listed building by the previous owner, and have now been able to reveal the section of road.

The unit sits on an ancient Roman road in Rochester, Kent, which once took legions of soldiers from the coast to London.

The Telegraph

Monday, September 26, 2016

By the Gods!

Maria Montez is COBRA WOMAN

Maria plays a double role as twin sisters, the evil queen Naja, who rules the remote Pacific island, and Tollea.  In this scene, it's the good Tollea pretending to be Naja, who was summoned in order to sacrifice Jon Hall and Sabu (not shown). The film, a camp classic, follows the typical PEPLUM plot line almost scene by scene. Very colourful and great costumes, which are a mix of Arabian, Aztec and Las Vegas. Directed by German-born Robert Siodmak, who went on to direct a couple of films during the PEPLUM explosion of the 1960s, including THE LAST ROMAN. Only 71 minutes long.

Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian poster of TRIUMPH OF HERCULES

Very colourful poster. It includes artwork of that bizarre 'jaws' contraption!

Friday, September 23, 2016

By the Gods!

Tony Russel gives a beautiful piece of jewelry to Luciana Gilli in SWORD OF DAMASCUS

The original Italian title translates literally as THE THIEF OF DAMASCUS, which makes more sense than SWORD OF DAMASCUS, certainly considering the film is more comedy than anything else. It's sorta a take on the THIEF OF BAGHDAD but with some surprisingly violent scenes and a moment when Tony is in blackface. This film will probably never see the light of day on US TV. I really like some parts of it but other parts, not so much. Very odd film. Tony made many PEPLUM films but his star was eclipsed by other more famous actors or bodybuilders. He's sorta an after thought in the entire genre. He made a bigger impact in other Italian genre films like WILD, WILD PLANET. As for Luciana, her acting career was short lived but the majority of her films were of the PEPLUM kind.


I recently got the Italian version of CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATORS and I was surprised, and not surprised, by how many scenes were cut from the English versions. I wasn't surprised because I always felt the film was missing something and the Italian copy showed how much it was missing.

The film stars Peter Lupus as Spartacus. Of all of the Lupus PEPLUM films, this is my favourite.

I'll be comparing 3 versions : The original Italian vs the Sinister Cinema version and the version shown on Canadian TV. I'll mainly compare the Italian and Canadian versions since the Sinister Cinema one closely resembles the Canadian version aside from the opening and closing credits, and one other scene.



The opening credit is a pretty much standard on seen in many PEPLUM films. It's a full credit. After the credit, we see text explaining the gist of the story. This is not in the Canadian or Sinister Cinema copies.


As you can see the opening credits in the Canadian version differs from the Italian version. After the abbreviated opening credit, a narrator explains the gist of the story.

CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATORS - Sinister Cinema version

The opening credit of the Sinister Cinema version differs from the other two versions. That's the only real big difference.


Here are all the scenes from the Italian version which are missing from the Canadian TV broadcast version and also the Sinister Cinema version :

Peter Lupus, as Spartacus, plays tug-o-war with his rebels. This scene is not in the Canadian version but it's in the Sinister Cinema copy.

Above and below : Spartacus saved the life of Consul Metello (Piero Lulli) and is let go along with other rebels. This scene is important since we don't know what happens after they leave the Roman camp.

A Roman caravan with some women or slaves. This scene is in the Canadian and Sinister cinema versions but it's abbreviated and it's missing the ladies.

Above and below : The fake Nero (Walter Barnes) fights with a bunch of gladiators. Great scene. This big scene is entirely cut from the English versions. Why was it cut?

Above and below : Lorris Loddi plays a kid who happens to meet with an advancing Roman caravan. He's given a medal by Massimo Serato who doesn't know the kid is actually on the look out for Romans. In the last shot, the kid goes to a rebel to warn them of the incoming caravan, with the medal as proof. Lorris was a popular kid actor in those days. He also acted in CLEOPATRA (1963). He's not credited at IMDb for this film.

The rebels wait to attack the Roman caravan. Lupus has a discussion with a rebel. This scene is cut.

After the rebels were ambushed by the Roman caravan, Lupus goes to the rescue of a woman in need of help (Gloria Milland). In the Canadian version, once he rescues her, that's it. But in the Italian version, Spartacus brings her to meet the rebels.

After Gloria Milland is kidnapped, we see Lupus talking to rebels. This scene is not in the Canadian copy.


In the Italian version, it ends with a standard shot of FINE

In the Canadian version, it ends with the standard THE END but it's followed by a full credit, which is nice to see.

The Sinister Cinema ends with a dreary THE END


The major cuts happen mainly during the first half of the film. The second half, which includes the gladiatorial fights and the big battle at the climax, are pretty much intact. Here are some additional cut moments :

This inter-title is from the Italian version. It's missing from the Canadian and Sinister Cinema copies.

In this scene, Massimo Serato holds the statue up in the air. This scene is actually abbreviated in the Italian version. Comparing it to the Canadian version (on the right), we seen Massimo picking up the statue. There are a couple of other such abbreviated scenes between the Italian and Canadian versions.

Image comparison :

The film was originally shot in widescreen and you can see in the side by side comparison how the cropped the film differently between the Italian and Canadian versions.

Above and below : At one point in the film, the image is flipped. I don't know which version is the correct one (I'm assuming it's the original Italian one). It's odd but it's not the first time I've seen this happen to PEPLUM films.

On the left is the Italian version and on the right is the Canadian version.

Also, if you look at the time in the below comparison, the time for the Italian version is at 42 minutes while the Canadian version is at 29 minutes. That means 13 minutes were cut from the Canadian version at that point in the story (including its shorter opening credit)

The 'flipped image' is finally corrected during this scene. That's Piero Lulli as Consul Metello.

Above & below : image crop. You can see how the film was entered and cropped between the Italian (left) and Canadian (right) versions.

The quality of image between the Italian TV broadcast and Canadian TV broadcast : the color of the Italian version is incorrect. It needs some color correction. The image is also murkier at different spots making it seem like one is viewing the film through a dirty window. The color in the Canadian is better and the image is clearer but by 'cleaning' it up some of the detail seen in the Italian version was washed out. Though the colours are incorrect in the Italian version, the details are much richer. And though the image is softer in the Canadian version, the colours are correct.

As I've mentioned above, this is my favourite PEPLUM film starring Peter Lupus. He made 4 films in Italy and though I like his other films, this one is less campy. It needs to be released in widescreen, as intact as possible. I like many of the missing scenes. The film flows much better with those scenes.

As a side note, this is one of those PEPLUM films with a confusing title :  it's sometimes GLADIATORS or a singular GLADIATOR.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

By the Gods!

Joseph (Geoffrey Horne) massages Henet (Belinda Lee) in THE STORY OF JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN

Belinda Lee vamps it out in this film. Her wigs are so over-the-top, which makes her vamping that much more OTT. Her career was cut short after she died in a car accident. Geoffrey, who was born in Argentina, made a couple of feature films but the majority of his acting roles comes from TV. He eventually quit acting to teach acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute in NYC. Both sorta had odd career. This film is part of many other low key Biblical films made in Europe at the time which are pretty much forgotten today.


Gordon Scott and Gianna Maria Canale meet in  THE LION OF ST-MARK. Fun film.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

By the Gods!

Cleopatra (Virginia Mayo) poisons her brother (Bart Mattson) in THE STORY OF MANKIND

Virginia really camps it up as Cleopatra. Was this her attempt (and the filmmaker's attempt) to make fun of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS? The cast for this kookie film is insane. Written and directed by Irwin Allen.


Sylva Koscina watches as Steve Reeves has fun with a crew member

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

By the Gods!

Roger Browne, Mario Novelli and Mimmo Palmara are the 3 SWORDS FOR ROME

They just punched their way into the bar (noticed the unconscious men behind) and the three are about to punch their way out of the bar.  This probably one of the longest brawl scene in a PEPLUM (and that's no mean feat). All three men are in top form, certainly Mimmo. This was release just as the PEPLUM genre died and like so many Italian films released at that specific time (see yesterday's By the Gods! post),  there's no English dubbing available. Fun film.

Nero exhibition

Photo : Carole Raddato

There's a Nero exhibition at the Rhineland Museum, in Trier, Germany. The fun thing about this exhibition is that it includes movie posters of PEPLUM films which has Nero or Nero-like characters in them (photo below). I recognize many of the film. There should be a PEPLUM museum somewhere in the world.

Link to the museum web page : NERO - EMPEROR, ARTIST AND BULLY

Thanks to Alan Robert and Carole Raddato for the info and photo. You can see more photos by Carole @ Flickr

StadtmuseumSimeonstift Trier © Simon Kürten

Monday, September 19, 2016

By the Gods!

Claudie Lange is about to be stoned to death in GLI AMORI DI ANGELICA

Interesting film, made just as the PEPLUM genre died. There's no official English title for this. The literal translation is THE LOVES OF ANGELICA. The Spanish title (it's an Italian / Spanish co-production) LA MUJER DEL DESIERTO translates as DESERT WOMAN. Good location filming and sexy cast. Claudia made a couple of PEPLUM genre films, including THE INVINCIBLE BROTHERS MACISTE.

Movie Poster Mondays

German poster for MORGAN THE PIRATE

More action packed than other posters made at the time

Friday, September 16, 2016

By the Gods!

Lex Johnson inspects his new wife (Tere Velázquez) in THE RAPE OF THE SABINE WOMEN

A rare PEPLUM film from Mexico. Today, would it be possible to show this film anywhere? Though there's nothing graphic about it the concept of men kidnapping (and subsequently raping) women and it ends happily ever after for all would be politically incorrect. It's interesting to compare this film with the European one starring Roger Moore. Lex Johnson's acting career went nowhere even if he looked like he belong in PEPLUM films. As for Tere, she looked like a soap star. A real curio.

Retro Friday : Cinematic Confusion

(originally posted on June 3, 2011)

One of the most deceptive posters ever conceived by AIP (American International Pictures). By looking at this poster would you know that:

1 - there's Zorro in it?

2 - the story doesn't take place in Ancient Roman/Greek period?

3 - the hero even closely resembles Alan Steel?

4 - the movie doesn't have an evil Queen with a whip?

5 - there's no actual slave queen in it

The poster is so unlike the film that it's incredibly brilliant.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

By the Gods!

Theseus (Bob Mathias) faces the minotaur in THE MINOTAUR

Today, the special effects for the minotaur looks sorta corny but for 1960, this was pretty good. But the design itself looks more like a horned gorilla than man-bull. I like this film. It's pretty solid : good cast, good production, good score, etc. A faithful version of the story of Theseus versus the minotaur has yet to be done though.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

By the Gods!

Bad guy Warkalla (Serge Gainsbourg) is about to get his comeuppance from Samson (Brad Harris) in SAMSON

It aways seems odd to me that Serge Gainsbourg, the ne plus ultra hip of French singers began his career in the PEPLUM genre. It's one of the many cool aspects of the genre few people know about. Harris makes a very good hero.


Jeff Chandler and Rita Gam goof around while filming SIGN OF THE PAGAN. They were probably just practicing the scene when Chandler tosses Gam in a pool.