Wednesday, October 31, 2018

By the Gods!

Alan Young, as Androcles, and Jean Simmons in ANDROCLES AND THE LION (1952)

Are there any fans of this film? I rarely read or hear anyone mention this early PEPLUM film anywhere. It was co-directed by an uncredited Nicholas Ray, who would make more prominent films in the 1950s after this one. This was Jean's first PEPLUM movie, before THE ROBE (1953) and others. PEPLUM star Victor Mature is also in it, as well as Robert Newton. Great cast and director, adapted from a George Bernard Shaw play, but seemingly few fans.


Director William Wyler and Charlton Heston have fun with a camel while filming BEN-HUR (1959)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

By the Gods!

José Greci in GOLIATH & THE SINS OF BABYLON (1963)

José is one of my favourite actress of the PEPLUM genre. Every time she's in a film, I know it's going to be good. She adds so much to every film, acting or presence. The odd thing about this particular movie, which I like but not enthusiastically, is how plain José looks in it. I always find her beautiful but in this Michele Lupo directed movie, she's plain as can be (and she's the only major female in the entire thing). I don't know if it's the wig, or the lighting, or the costume but she's not shown in her best way. Unflattering angles and close-ups are nothing new in Lupo movies but she worked with the director in two other of his films and appeared much better in those productions. It's an odd thing to see someone as attractive in one film and not so in another. And she's not the only example (men or women). BTW, I tried to find the most flattering scene to take here.

Unique Arena Sets

One of the cool aspects of PEPLUM films is seeing films with scenes set in the arena with elaborate set-ups. Here are just a few examples. These don't include scenes with standard gladiatorial arenas but just those with added themes or contraptions.

A mock fortress surrounded by a moat in FABIOLA

In SPARTACO : SINS OF ROME, a full ship with oars in a pool of water

An elaborate elevated fighting area in BARABBAS

GLADIATORS 7 : An elevated catwalk area to fight, with wooden spikes waiting below

A bizarre leveraging thingamajig, with Hercules (Dan Vadis) trying to keep his mate (Marilu Tolo) from being killed. It's hard to describe. From TRIUMPH OF HERCULES

Monday, October 29, 2018

By the Gods!

Alan Steel in SAMSON (1961)

Though this film is considered a Brad Harris film, and Brad plays Samson and is the lead with more scenes than Alan, I always think of this as an Alan Steel movie. In France, it was titled SAMSON CONTRE HERCULE in which Alan was Hercules. In the US version, Alan's name was Millstone and not Hercules. As good as Brad is, IMO, Alan steals (haha!) the show. Physically, he's never been more cut. He's impressive. This screenshot was taken from the Italian trailer, which, remarkably, has more screen information and differences in scenes than the same moments in movie itself. This tells me that all versions, including the very popular Spanish version that's in circulation everywhere, has an incorrect aspect ratio. I wanted to include this Italian trailer in the small compilation of Alan Steel trailers I posted below but the trailer was copyrighted.

Movie Poster Mondays

Spanish poster of HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (1964)

Great poster. One of the best!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

By the Gods!

Gordon Scott, as Kerim, is ordered to be whipped by Alberto Farnese and Moira Orfei in KERIM - SON OF THE SHEIK (1962)

When filming this, Gordon Scott was probably thinking: why am I always stuck in these positions? Gordon was often whipped, chained and surrounded by spears. Scott's story didn't end well (maybe I should include him in the tragic stars page?). From what I've read, he wasn't too fond of the PEPLUM genre. This attitude is sorta reflected with almost every actor who had acted in PEPLUM films: they generally didn't like them, or making them. They were physically demanding productions. I recently read a new article of an actor who was a PEPLUM star and he admitted that he preferred doing other films. For a brief second, I thought that I might contact this actor for an interview but after reading the article, and his disinterest in the genre, I thought it wouldn't make much of a difference. The PEPLUM genre gets no respect, even from people who worked on them. I'm still looking for the Egyptian version of this film.


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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

By the Gods!

Carla Marlier, Charles Band and Steve Reeves in WAR OF THE TROJANS (aka The Avenger; 1962)

Charles Band's character in the English version was named Julio. Since he's the only prominent child actor in this film, it's obvious that's him but the film credit information listed out there is confusing. Band is still alive today and wrote an tiny article in The Fantastic Fifties magazine about his experience. While making the film, he realized he hated acting.


Preston Foster and David Holt look at some film stock during the making of THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1935)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By the Gods!

Maciste (Kirk Morris) thwarts guards with a pole in TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (1961)

In this scene, Maciste causes an accident (left hand side of screen) by grabbing the heavy pole, which he tries to take care of immediately after but is then surrounded by even more guards with spears. This is one rare scenes in which we see the Hero recklessly causing a mishap by trying to overcome baddies by using whatever object around him as a weapon but backfiring badly on him. I wish there were more scenes like this in PEPLUM movies, where Heroes are sometimes a source of problem on innocent bystanders because of his desire to do good with his powerful strength. It makes the film look less cartoonish. It grounds the Hero. A true classic PEPLUM!


Forget the Punic Wars...this is the real battle!

Monday, October 22, 2018

By the Gods!

Rhonda Fleming, Serge Gainsbourg and Van Aikens in REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960)

As one visitor noted in comments of a previous post, this title will get a BluRay release in December by Kino Lorber. The notes at the KL website for this title make a point of mentioning Fernando Rey and Gainsbourg names, which sorta tells me why it's being released by them. They are big fans of those two actors. This release is good news, and bad news as well. As I've mentioned often here at the blog, this is one of the best looking PEPLUM films released during the Golden Era. Production values were above average. It was already released recently on DVD in a pristine widescreen version and the film really pops out, so imagine a BluRay version. The bad news is the Kino Lorber are really aggressive when it comes to Youtube and anything uploaded there. I never had an issue with uploading this film on any of my channels but now this might change.

As a side note, I'd like to thank those who contributed to the blog and PEPLUM TV Youtube channel (which is still stuck in the Phantom Zone...)

The donors are:

Bree L., Stefanie S. and Austin S..

Thank you!!!

Movie Poster Mondays

Original US poster

Typical poster of the 1930s. A United Artists release of a Samuel Goldwyn production.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Article of the week: Black & White PEPLUM films

One of the most unique things of the PEPLUM genre is how nearly all PEPLUM films were shot in color. The genre itself was perfectly showcased in color, with the grand spectacle and pageantry of it all. Even Italian films were nearly all filmed in pricey color while other contemporary films were still shot in B&W. It's one of the great aspects of the genre. This doesn't mean there weren't PEPLUM films shot in B&W. There were but they're in the minority. Here's a quick overview of some of these titles.

(I'm not including silent films which were nearly all filmed in B&W and the list is only PEPLUM films set in antiquity)

True Boardman and Charles Laughton in this Cecil B. DeMille directed epic. One of the few big films of the 1930s.

Eddie Cantor star in this infamous PEPLUM musical comedy.

Cleopatra (Claudette Colbert) salutes Caesar after being rolled out of a carpet. Another Cecil B. DeMille super-production.

Preston Foster in this rare PEPLUM of the 1930s

A scene from this French film based on the life of Jesus

Massive crowd scenes from this state sponsored movie

FABIOLA (1949)
Michele Morgan and Henri Vidal in this classic B&W PEPLUM epic.

Georges Marchal in SINS OF POMPEII. A film that quickly established the French actor as a leading PEPLUM star.

Cinzia (Delia Scala) tries to save Timus (Erno Crisa) from hungry lions with prayers. One of the best looking and most spectacular B&W PEPLUM productions. Scenes from this were re-used in ANDROCLES & THE LION.

O.K. NERO (1951)
Silvana Pampanini, Gino Cervi and Giulio Donnini star in this PEPLUM comedy.

Leonora Ruffo, Umberto Silvestri and Gino Leurini star in this fun PEPLUM film directed by Pietro Francisci. A definite fave of mine.

Robert Newton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature in this Hollywood production. Scenes from MESSALINE (1951) were re-used for this production.


Massimo Girotti and Gianna Maria Canale in a film directed by Riccardo Freda. The best B&W PEPLUM film. Below: a short clip of the amazing arena scene.

Pierre Cressoy and Elena Klaus. Nicely shot in B&W.

Messalina (Yvonne Sanson) and Nero (Gino Cervi) plot something. I have yet to see this rare film.

Mark Antony (Marlon Brando) gives a speech to the public in JULIUS CAESAR (1953). One of the rare B&W PEPLUM films made in Hollywood during the 1950s.

JUDAS' KISS (1954)
A scene from this rarely seen Spanish film

Ruth Roman and Akim Tamirof in this rare PEPLUM film. It was apparently shot a couple years before and only released in 1959, which might explain why it wasn't shot in color.

Publicity photo of Samson Burke as Hercules and the 3 Stooges for THE 3 STOOGES MEET HERCULES. One of the rare PEPLUM films released in the 1960s that was shot in B&W.

Aside from art films like THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST MATTHEW (1964) or ELEKTRA (1962), nearly all PEPLUM productions were shot in color and in widescreen.

Posted at the permanent page

Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian poster of TAUR THE MIGHTY (1963)

Good poster. Nothing earth shattering but the resemblance of the actors is good. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

By the Gods!

The Kraken going after Andromeda in CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

Who knew back in 1981 that "Release the Kraken!" would become such a popular saying/meme today. In fact, a politician in the US used the fight between Perseus and the Kraken as an analogy for the heated political situation involved with the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. Surreal!

(A side note: another politician also used the "I Am Spartacus!" saying to prove a point!)


Here are 4 trailers of Steve Reeves films. I can't publish the titles or else Youtube will go after me again (my issue with Youtube is still not resolved)

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

By the Gods!

Herculanas (Sim Iness) shows his strength in SIGN OF THE PAGAN (1954)

It's one of those scenes with a super strong man who is pitted against the main villain (Attila, played by Jack Palance) to show how ruthless the bad guy is after overpowering him. The tall Sim Iness only appeared in two films. This 'bending metal' moment was made 4 years before HERCULES (1958) but the scene itself is lackluster. His poor acting is not helped with the terrible costume (his small black shield is silly) and the overall bad execution of the scene (look at the framing in this screenshot). The character's name was suppose to hint at a Hercules-like strongman but fails to impress when scenes like this one are suppose to impress.


A behind the scenes photo from CLEOPATRA (1963): we see Elizabeth Taylor and Harold Bradley preparing for a scene. Bradley was a regular star in PEPLUM movies.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

By the Gods!

Gordon Scott and Pietro de Vico in GLADIATOR OF ROME (1962)

Gordon Scott was probably thinking: how can I kill this annoying fellow? This film was one of the first to have a bunch of disparate and disgruntled gladiators join forces to form a small army with the hero to overthrow the villain. It quickly became one of the most popular clichés of the genre. It was released the same day as COLOSSUS OF ROME, which also had this identical plot line.

Gabriele Antonini, RIP

Gabriele Antonini, famous for playing Ulysses in both HERCULES films starring Steve Reeves, died last Saturday. He was 80 years old. Antonini starred a good number of PEPLUM films before his career ended when the genre ended. It's a shame. He was good. I really liked him. Though his other films are good he'll always be remembered as Ulysses. RIP. Here's a quick overview of his major roles.

Hercules (Steve Reeves) shows Ulysses (Antonini) how to use a bow and arrow. Classic, timeless scene.

Hercules (Steve Reeves), Ulysses (Gabriele Antonini) and Orpheus (Aldo Fiorello). In the HERCULES films, Antonini played a crucial part of bringing fun and levity (and intelligence) against Reeves' super muscular character.

The Argonauts from HERCULES (1958)

The actors are: Fulvio Carrara as Pollux, Willy Colombini as Castor, Fabrizio Mioni as Jason, Aldo Pini as Tifi, Steve Reeves as Hercules, Gabriele Antonini as Ulysses, Andrea Fantasia as Laertes and Gino Mattera as Orpheus.


Iole (Sylva Koscina) sings Evening Star. Ulysses (Antonini) enjoys the melody. Below, with Steve Reeves. In this scene, Ulysses character figures out the secret to Antaeus' strength.

Antonini had a substantial role in this film

Antonioni with Bella Cortez in this excellent PEPLUM

Gabriele had a small role in this crowded film

Antonini starred with Gordon Scott in this story set in China

Gabriele Antonini, as Zorro sans mask, is pinned by Claudio Undari. A leading role for a change.

Ombretta Colli as Princess Cori and Gabriele Antonini as Alexander the Great

Gabriele Antonini and Roland Carey run away from Roman soldiers

Gordon Scott burns his hand in defiance as Gabriele Antonini watches on