Friday, May 31, 2019

PEPLUM Break time!

I take a break every two months and my last break was near the end of March. Yes, we're already 6 months in 2019.

Stay tuned!

I'll leave you now with King Leonidas (Richard Egan) from THE 300 SPARTANS (1962), saying "From this wall, we do not retreat!"

Thursday, May 30, 2019

By the Gods!

 Dan Vadis, as Hercules, and Pierre Cressoy (below) in TRIUMPH OF HERCULES (1964)

This is the end of the movie, with Hercules going after the villain, Prince Milo (Cressoy). This scene in particular is such a let down for an otherwise really entertaining PEPLUM. You can clearly see the background is a wall, not the sky. There are creases and stains on the mural standing as the sky. Then there's the crevice (last screenshot) which is the least convincing set I've ever seen in any movie. It looks like something from a high school play. Audiences might not notice these things with beefy Vadis around but the first time I saw this I was shocked by the near amateurishness of it all. It's shocking because the rest of the movie is quite good with top notch production. Must have been a rushed shoot.


Italian lobby cards set of THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959) starring Steve Reeves and Mylene Demongeot. Great set. So much better than the one for its US release. Should have had one more card with Reeves (did they need to have two cards with the ship?) but overall it's quite colourful and representative of the film itself.

My recent acquisitions!

Here are some PEPLUM stuff I recently got, from eBay or other sources.

Full disclaimer: Except for 'MUSCLES, MYTHS, AND MOVIES' by Stephen Flacassier, who was kind enough to give it for free, all the stuff I mention in these posts I purchased myself. They weren't given to me for free or are freebies.

I also purchased the Kindle edition of 'OF MUSCLES AND MEN: Essays on the Sword & Sandal film'. I'll have a review of this in the near future. There's more stuff I got but I will also post in the near future, including magazines.

Three DVDs of WAR OF THE TROJANS (1962), also known as THE LAST GLORY OF TROY or THE AVENGER starring Steve Reeves.

GODS OF WAR DVD is a Steve Reeves double feature with THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959) and THE LAST GLORY OF TROY (1962). I bought this specifically because that's the title which appears during the morning credits. The quality of the image is terrible, as almost all DVDs from the US. This version is missing that one big scene at the beginning.

Greek DVD of THE LAST GLORY OF TROY. It's in Italian only and it's cut (missing that scene).

French version of THE LAST GLORY OF TROY...even though the front cover has the title in Italian. The French version is the *only* version that is the most complete. It has the scene that's not in either copies above, or any other copies I already have in my collection. I wrote about this a few weeks ago. So, this version is invaluable even if the quality of the image is not that good. It's in widescreen but it's murky and fuzzy.

I specifically bought these copies for the opening credits and to see if they had that missing scenes.

For fun, I purchased these VHS tapes of HERCULES (1958). There are a gazillion different copies out there available in this format.

Postcard which shows HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959) playing at a local theatre. I posted about this recently. I loved it so  much that I decided to buy it. It's authentic. Not a reproduction. On the right is a Danish movie program of the same film. It's the smallest movie program I've ever seen. As a collector of movie memorabilia I was shocked to see how tiny it was (see below). It's cute and in good condition. It's not a reproduction.

And some lobby cards of various films. I like the one for THE SEVEN REVENGES (1961) and QUEEN OF BABYLON (Semiramis). One is a reproduction while the others are not.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

By the Gods!

 Raf Baldassarre and Edmund Purdom in SULEIMAN THE CONQUEROR (1961)

It's one of those movie's who's title character is barely featured in the story. Edmund Purdom doesn't play Suleiman but Ibrahim Pasha. Does anyone like this movie? It is hard to come by but I've never heard anyone claim that they liked it. Personally, I don't think its bad but like so many 'historical' PEPLUM productions, the small scale approach to these figures is often underwhelming. Too ambitious for its own good.

Above is a photo from a lobby card set while below is a screenshot of that scene from the actual movie. I like the B&W one. It's so dramatic compared to the color one. I understand that people always prefer watching movies in color but sometimes B&W is quite striking.

Special Effects, PEPLUM style

As I recently wrote, matte paintings in Italian-made films were rare but not in Hollywood productions. Here's a great example: matte work from HELEN OF TROY (1956). Robert Wise was a technical genius and he knew how to utilize an effects team to its fullest potential.

Then & Now: Laura Efrikian

Laura in HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN; a recent photo of the actress.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

By the Gods!

 A hooded Dan Vadis fights in an arena in TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964)

This scene is good and baffling. The action in the Ten Gladiators series are some of the best from the genre. Really action packed. In this scene we see Dan Vadis jumps of this death contraption only to nearly die from it. What makes this scene odd is that this contraption was also used in GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS (1961) where Gloria Milland is nearly impaled by it. Scenes from the latter were used freely in TRIUMPH and yet none of the long shots from GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS of this contraption were used. It's really peculiar decision from the director. Where the few crowd scenes from GIANTS edited together with the scenes of TRIUMPH really that much of a cost saving?

 The device is set in motion, with the plank of nails heading down towards him. 

 The quick thinking hero uses his sword to stop the deadly device...

...only to be in trouble again seconds later. This device was used in GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS.


VHS covers of GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS (1959) starring Steve Reeves and Chelo Alonso. Remarkably enough, the covers for this movie, which contains some of the most iconic moments of the PEPLUM genre, has no scenes from it. It's quite mind boggling.

English VHS cover with Steve from HERCULES (1958), not GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS. 

Brazilian VHS cover with photo from HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959). Weird.

The Spanish cover has a collage of images of Steve and Chelo from other sources.

The German VHS cover translates as HERCULES - THE HORROR OF THE HUNS.

The French VHS cover is a modern artwork of the 1959 movie with no Steve or Chelo in sight.

Vintage article

Vintage article with PEPLUM stars Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield. Odd headline.

Friday, May 24, 2019

By the Gods!

Will Smith and Mena Massoud in ALADDIN (2019)

The live action adaptation of the Disney animated film opens this weekend. I like Arabian adventures and they are often overlooked, even within the PEPLUM genre, but I have to say that this movie looks super cheesy, even by Disney standards. 

Through the Years : Samson and Delilah

The story of Samson and Delilah has been told many times on film, TV and the stage with an opera. The list is pretty long but here are some of the most memorable or known productions. Of course the 1949 version directed by Cecil B DeMille is the most famous one. Bodybuilder Steve Reeves auditioned for the role but DeMille thought Reeves' body was too sculpted and the future Hercules didn't get the part.

From SAMSON AND DELILAH (1922), directed by Alexander Korda, starring Maria Corda as Delilah and Alfredo Galoar as Samson

The classic 1949 version with Hedy Lamarr as Delilah and Victor Mature as Samson. 

Samson (Anton Geesink) has been rendered weak by Delilah (Rosalba Neri) after she and an assistant cut his hair. This one of two short stories in GREAT LEADERS OF THE BIBLE (1965).

Antony Hamilton and Belinda Bauer are Samson and Delilah in this 1984 TV version. Both actors were miscast.

Elizabeth Hurley and Eric Thal in the 1996 version of the fabled story. Unlike other productions, Delilah cuts Samson's hair while he's wide awake, as a dare of sorts. This scene is pretty good even if the final product is uneven.

Caitlin Leahy and Taylor James and Delilah and Samson in the 2018 release, SAMSON. I haven't seen it yet but I haven't heard good things about it.


US lobby cards set for THE WARRIOR EMPRESS (1960; aka Sappho - The Venus of Lesbos): Okay set. The colours are bizarre, typical for a Columbia Pictures release, and there are two 'artwork' cards but the photos are ok even if the 2nd one is a scene which has been cut for the US version. The sad thing is there are no close-ups of any of the main actors.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

By the Gods!

Hercules (Dan Vadis) is put to the test in HERCULES THE INVINCIBLE (1964; aka Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness)

Can you imagine setting up this shot just for a few seconds? It must have taken the cast and crew  some time to ready themselves for this brief shot. It's a good one though as we see Dan's formidable back. You have to have patience to work in movies.

Who wore it best?

So, who wore this tunic the best? Remarkably enough, my vote is for Cesare.

- Robert Taylor in QUO VADIS (1951)
- Rex Reason in SALOME (1953)
- Cesare Danova for his screen test for BEN-HUR (1959)


Martine Carol and Raf Vallone in a behind the scenes photo of the filming of the 'Lysistrata' storyline from DAUGHTERS OF DESTINY (1954; Destinées)

Monday, May 20, 2019

By the Gods!

 The massive set of Babylon from INTOLERANCE (1916)

The photo above is with extras and below is without them. In that image, you can see crew members working on the set, sweeping, etc. There are wires everywhere. This set pretty much dominated this part of the film but since everything was shot a a distance, it makes for an odd viewing: one can't connect any of the characters to it. I always find this puzzling. Since no actors are seen within the set, those scenes could have been easily re-used in other films. Considering the fact that it was made in 1910s, I should be more 'tolerant' of this approach but it's like viewing different movies set in Babylon within the movie itself. One can easily witness this problem in numerous PEPLUM movies, with so many productions freely re-using big scenes from other productions over and over again. IMO, to 'ground' such big scenes actors should be see within them.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Belgian poster of ULYSSES (1954)

Very good artwork. The ship would be used later in HERCULES (1958)


Wandisa Guida and Ettore Manni in REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960)

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

By the Gods!

Sam Pasco and Elvire Audray in IRONMASTER (1983)

The 1980s saw a resurgence of PEPLUM style movies, many of which were made in Italy and on very small budget. IMO, this one is one of the best of that period. Is it cheesy? Yes but very entertaining and surprising solid direction by PEPLUM veteran Umberto Lenzi. Pasco's hair (wig) doesn't really fit him and aside from some flat acting, everything else is good. George Eastman plays the villain (below) and he's great. With his animal helmet and general height/appearance, he makes a formidable bad guy. This movie also has PEPLUM actors from the Golden Era, including Giovanni Cianfriglia (last image) who was still in good form. Giovanni was Steve Reeves' stuntman/body double in many productions. Like so many other movies of the genre, the good girl is blonde (like Elvira) and the bad girl has dark hair. A fun movie to watch for die hard PEPLUM fans like me.

These screenshots were taken from a high definition copy and it's very nice to watch.

Same set, different films

Except for some superficial changes, this is the same set used in these TV productions.

From the SPARTACUS mini-series (2004)


From CYCLOPS (2008)