Friday, April 28, 2017

By the Gods!

Daniela Rocca threatens to kill Ed Fury, to Dorian Gray's dismay, in COLOSSUS & THE AMAZON QUEEN (1960)

A PEPLUM comedy of the sexes, or a PEPLUM sex comedy. Men vs Women. The first time I saw this I didn't like it but today I really like it. There were a couple of reasons why my original opinion was skewed : the copy was horrendous. It simply didn't do the film justice. In its widescreen version, it's beautifully shot. Also, one has to be a fan of the PEPLUM genre to get it. At first, when I started my crash course in the genre, I knew very little of it. Now today, this film tickles my 'vast' knowledge. Great cast, great production, sexy. What more can you ask for?

Retro Fridays : Mount Olympus at the Movies

(originally posted January 2012)

Above and below: from VULCAN ~ SON OF JUPITER (1962)

Above and below: From JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963)


The original CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)



Above & below : from Disney's HERCULES (1997)

From the CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010)


Above & below : from IMMORTALS (2011)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

By the Gods!

Carl Möhner fights for his life in the arena in THE FALL OF ROME (1963)

Möhner was one of the few German male actors who made some PEPLUM films. There were plenty of German-born actresses seen in PEPLUM films but not as many actors in lead roles. Möhner is good, or a good change from the typical actor they used during the PEPLUM explosion. It was directed by Antonio Margheriti, who went on to direct plenty of action films in the 1970s and 1980s. It utilizes plenty of scenes from ALONE AGAINST ROME (1962), which was also produced by the same producer of this film, Marco Vicario. Margheriti loved working with models and this film is no exception : we se plenty of models, of the Colosseum and such, tumbling down during the climatic earthquake.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

By the Gods!

Cleopatra (Amanda Barrie) and Mark Antony (Sidney James) plot something in CARRY ON CLEO (1964)

Fun film. Not uproariously funny but fun to watch. According to some sources, the costumes and sets used for this film were intended for CLEOPATRA (1963) but when production moved on to Italy, the CARRY ON team used what was left behind. The beginning in ancient Britain is a tad boring but when the story moves to Rome or Alexandria, the silliness is non-stop! PEPLUM comedies are almost a genre unto itself.

Behind-the-Scenes video edition

Here's a short 'travelog' clip of José Greci walking about Rome with friends. The clip says she starred as the Virgin Mary in BEN-HUR (1959). I love these clips. José is pretty!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

By the Gods!

A scene from SPARTACUS (1960)

A combination matte painting and set, the set being the part with the actors walking about. The intro shot of Rome for this film is great but subsequent matte works during the course of the film weren't up to the quality of the first one. The perspective is a little off here.

Upcoming film : MARY MAGDALENE

A new MARY MAGDALENE film is set to be release later on this year. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus, and Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene! Joaquin as Jesus? Will this be a hipster version of the story between Christ and the prostitute he saved? Below is a behind-the-scenes photo of the filming, with Rooney taking a cigarette puff while (I assume) is a waiting Joaquin on the cross. 

The story of Mary Magdalene was made before, starring Yvonne de Carlo as Mary. It was called THE  SWORD & THE CROSS or simply MARY MAGDALENE (1958 ; 1960 in the US).

Monday, April 24, 2017

By the Gods!

Cleopatra (Sophia Loren) chats with her handmaiden Dedit (Cristina Fantoni) in TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA (1954)

AIDA (1953) was Sophia's first leading role but it was a musical in which she lip-synched to opera. It wasn't really a role in which she had to recite her lines. TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA is considered Sophia's first dramatic (or in this case, comedic) leading role. It opened many doors to many more leading roles. Loren plays two characters, sorta like identical twins, in this fun but not uproariously funny film. Fantoni also starred along with Loren in ATTILA (1954) but her career didn't go beyond the 1950s.

Movie Poster Mondays

French poster for ALONE AGAINST ROME (1962)

Action packed artwork. Rossana sorta looks sunburned there. Not a flattering rendering.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

By the Gods!

Hercules (Steve Reeves) trying to secretly enter Thebes via a river in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

Whenever I see scenes like this one in old movies, I always wonder how polluted the water was and how bad it might have been for the actors. The story's setting might take place thousands of years ago, when most rivers were clean, but the film itself was shot in the 1950s, when regulations were lax. Reeves is almost always working in and around some river / sea setting in practically all his films. He must have been weary about this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

By the Gods!

Mark Antony (Raymond Burr) and Cleopatra (Rhonda Fleming) enjoy a feast / entertainment in SERPENT OF THE NILE (1953)

A low budget epic directed by William Castle and released by Columbia Pictures. Burr is a sorta interesting casting choice for Mark Antony but Rhonda, who made a couple of other PEPLUM films, is totally miscast as Cleopatra. She just doesn't get the role. It's a fun film to watch but it doesn't have much to do with the real Cleopatra. Just a Hollywood's idea of the legendary Egyptian Queen. Castle would fare much better with SLAVES OF BABYLON (1953).


Elizabeth Taylor's screentest for QUO VADIS (1951)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

By the Gods!

Rome seen in THE ROBE (1953)

A matte painting with only the shimmering water and people walking about at the far right being real elements. A nice image but they could have added a few people traipsing about to give it more realism. This scene lasts just a few seconds. A lot of work for a brief moment.

Different titles : CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER

Here's a good example of how the PEPLUM genre is beset by so-called cinematic confusion : the original Italian title for CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER is IL SEPOLCRO DEI RE, which translated in English is THE TOMB OF THE KINGS. The official International English title was THE DAUGHTER OF CLEOPATRA, not CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER. The film was released in 1960. In the original Italian version, Debra Paget doesn't play Cleopatra's daughter. The story had nothing to do with Cleopatra.

But then news of Elizabeth Taylor was to star in a new super-production about the life of Cleopatra and Italian producers took notice. Since IL SEPOLCRO DEI RE was made first, producers / distributors made some modifications to the script and Debra Paget now became the daughter of Cleopatra. This newly dubbed version was released in 1963 in the US to capitalize on Taylor's CLEOPATRA (1963).

Aside from this tidbit of information, none of the titles match the original Italian title.

US / British version :

Hong Kong version :

THE TOMB OF THE PHARAOHS (there's a spelling mistake in the title)

French version :


Monday, April 17, 2017

By the Gods!

Debra Paget tries to hypnotize a cobra in JOURNEY TO THE LOST CITY (1960)

Directed by Fritz Lang. This is actually a condensed version of two films, TIGER OF BENGAL (1959) and THE INDIAN TOMB (1959), edited down to JOURNEY TO THE LOST CITY by American International Pictures. There were many such German-produced films, that always started in modern times with the main characters ending up in some exotic setting. It was sold by AIP as Sinbad-like adventure. The film is gorgeous but it was shot in standard 4:3 aspect Ratio, not in widescreen, which gives the film an unfortunately dated feel. Paget made several PEPLUM films, including THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) and CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER (see post below). This dance is eye popping because she's nearly nude.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster of CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER (1960)

Good poster for a good film. I got a new version of this and though the image is still not as pristine as a HD transfer, it's better than the murky US one. A little gem of a film.

Friday, April 14, 2017

By the Gods!

Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton) is haunted by the crucifixion of Jesus in THE ROBE (1953)

The first studio film shot and released in CinemaScope! A classic film. Since Easter weekend is upon us, I'll wish a happy Easter weekend to all of those who are believers, followers (and also non-believers)!

(You'd think this film would be the one they'd show every year on TV and not THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, which is about Moses and not Jesus. Oh well...)

The Ten Commandments tomorrow on ABC

"Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid adorable fool!" 

For those in the US and Canada, don't forget to watch THE TEN COMMANDMENTS Saturday on ABC, 7 pm EST. Starring, among others, super camp Anne Baxter and Charlton Heston. It's an annual tradition!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

By the Gods!

Maciste (Mark Forest) seduces Queen Smedes (Chelo Alonso) in SON OF SAMSON (1960)

This is a good PEPLUM flick with yet another questionable title (Maciste is NOT the son of Samson). It was Chelo's birthday this past Monday. I usually don't celebrate birthdays here at the blog because 1) it would be too time consuming to track the date of births of ALL the actors and directors, and 2) most of them are dead. In this case, both Mark and Chelo are still with us. She's 84 years old. Happy belated birthday, Chelo!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

By the Gods!

Claudia (Gianna Maria Canale) wants to buy a slave (Ombretta Colli) from soldier (Giovanni Cianfriglia) in THE SON OF SPARTACUS (aka the Slave ; 1962)

Giovanni was Steve Reeves' main stuntman / body double. They share a brief scene just before this one. It's always funny to see the two together, which happened in a couple of other films. We're introduced to the two main females characters for this film, Ombretta and Gianna Maria. Gianna always makes a great entrance. Her character is sorta unfocused (needed more scenes) but she added so much to the film's overall worth. The film was directed by Sergio Corbucci, who also directed another Steve Reeves films, DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961). I prefer this one over DUEL. As a PEPLUM fan, this one is so much more satisfying.


Lou Ferrigno waiting for his cue to jump into action while filming HERCULES (1983)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

By the Gods!

The massive set of Babylon from INTOLERANCE (1916)

The film is over 100 years old. An expensive flop when it was first released, this set, which took a big chunk of the film's then massive budget, is still considered one of the greatest ever built. No CGI. No matte painting. I really like the old storylines in this film, while others prefer the contemporary stories. You can view a HD version on Youtube.

Recreation of Hollywood Romans in 'Ancient Warfare' magazine

© Graham Sumner

Graham Sumner has been writing and illustrating a series of articles on Hollywood Romans for 'Ancient Warfare' magazine. The sample illustration from the series (above), featuring his reconstruction of the costumes from 'THE ROBE' (1953). Graham, who is a fan of this blog, contacted me and asked if I could post something about his work in 'Ancient Warfare' magazine. Graham hopes to assemble all his work together and publish a book.

For comparison, here's a screenshot from the film.

Monday, April 10, 2017

By the Gods!

Lorella De Luca and Yvonne Furneaux in CHARGE OF THE BLACK LANCERS (1962)

This is a pretty solid film with one big liability : very few close-ups. Like so many other films released during the PEPLUM explosion, the focus on the use of widescreen often meant few close-ups, and this production is a great example. It's very frustrating, for many reasons, but certainly because Yvonne is such a beautiful woman who should be seen up close. Lorella De Luca appeared in other PEPLUM films. She played Bathsheba in SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR (1958).

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster for THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS (1958)

I like this. This is a 'fotobusta' style poster (a wild collage of photos and imagery). Perfectly captures the film.

Friday, April 7, 2017

By the Gods!

Gordon Scott burns his hand in defiance as Gabriele Antonini watches in COLOSSUS OF ROME (1964)

I have 4 different copies of this film : US version, British TV broadcast version, Italian version and French version. This screenshot is from the French copy. The best, in terms of image quality, is the British TV broadcast. Beautiful transfer. Unfortunately, some scenes were cut, including this pivotal scene! I couldn't take a screenshot of it since they cut it. Those kookie British Broadcasters! Very frustrating!

The film is also known as HERO OF ROME but I prefer COLOSSUS OF ROME because, well, it's more Colossus. Anyway, good film!


(originally posted November 2011)

The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the wonders of the world. It stood for 54 years before a big earthquake toppled it down. According to historians, Ptolemy III offered to pay for the reconstruction of the statue, but the oracle of Delphi made the Rhodians afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it.

Here's a brief overview of the legendary statue :

The Colossus from COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1961) directed by Sergio Leone

There were plans of recreating the Colossus a few years ago and this was one of the designs. I don't know the status of the project.

Here are other artists' conceptions of the once wonder of the world :

...and for something cheeky, there's the NSFW anatomically correct view click here