Tuesday, February 25, 2020

By the Gods!

Mark Damon is THE SON OF CLEOPATRA (1964)

Starring Mark Damon, Scilla Gabel, Arnoldo Foa, Livio Lorenzon, Paolo Gozlino and Alberto Lupo. Directed by Fernando Baldi.

When I began watching PEPLUM movies, I figured they were mainly about muscular heroes fighting evil rulers. This one, starring a non-bodybuilder sorta broke the rule. Though Mark Damon is fit, he's not comparable to Steve Reeves or even Gordon Scott in terms of physique. I thought it was a good change and in general I liked the movie. I thought it was refreshing to see. Well, those were the early stages of my introduction to the genre. After seeing a gazillion other movies, my estimation of it as sorta went down. Mind you, I don't dislike it. I like it but there's nothing remarkable about it.

Production wise, it's well made and the locations are great. The cast is good (certainly Gabel, Gozlino, Lupo, Lorenzon, and Foa) and the movie moves at a good pace. The story, though, is sorta boring (I won't bother with a summary) and the direction by Baldi is uninspired. Fernando Baldi excelled in dramas (the religious kind) and dramatic moments, not necessarily action movies. There are some good action scenes here and there and the fight at the end, between Damon and Paolo Gozlino is good. But there are obvious problems with many such scenes: during one of the film's best action scenes, a contest in the desert, it's pretty obvious Mark Damon wasn't the one doing all the work (see below). Discrepancies like this lower the quality of the movie more than necessary.

Alberto Lupo and Arnoldo Foa. Great actors.

The big problem I have with this film is the main star himself, Mark Damon. I must admit that I'm not a big fan. He's okay in this but his acting style is sorta odd. Initially, I took his style as someone who's acting was hampered by the dubbing process of Italian movies but then after seeing Mark in BEAUTY & THE BEAST (1962), an US production, and I realized that his acting was pretty much this way in all of his movies, dubbed or not dubbed. Personally, I find Paolo Gozlino much more compelling to watch. Excellent actor. He would have made an interesting son of Cleopatra. But he was cast a bad guy, and even in his limited villainy role he outshines Damon. 

Fortunately the story (or direction) relies more on the Italian cast and it doesn't shoulder the entire production on Mark's shoulders. The story needed a Steve Reeves type or even a Kirk Morris type, someone who was believable in action scenes. Damon is not really believable in such scenes. Had the film starred anyone else than Mark my view of it would have been much better. And had the film been directed by someone else, I'm certain the PEPLUM elements would have rocked more. Everything is there but a compelling story and a compelling lead actor.

As a side note, Damon's green costume (first image above) was re-ussed in a couple of other PEPLUM movies. 

I have just a couple of versions of this in my collection. The movie was included in the SON OF SAMSON (1960) DVD as a second feature, which I have. Its runtime is 103 minutes and it's not in widescreen. I have a Fan Dub of this (I don't know who made the Fan Dub) and I have the Italian version, with a runtime of 98 minutes. Both of those versions are in widescreen.

This movie is blocked on Youtube. The previous channel I managed there was closed in part because I got a strike after uploading it (even though I never made the movie public. Kept it private). It has a 'worldwide' block. You can still find it there on other channels but I can't upload it.

A serviceable 7 out of 10.

Mark Damon being whipped is the movie's highlight. I uploaded this scene to one of my first channels at Youtube and it became one of the mot popular videos ever. But the scene was eventually removed, for multiple reasons.

The beautiful Scilla Gabel is excellent as usual but her wigs are terrible. 

Livio Lorenzon in SON OF CLEOPATRA. The set was obviously cold: notice the greyish puff of smoke before him. The story is set in hot Egypt but he's freezing. Livio gives a good performance in an usually meaty role.

Above and below: this is clearly NOT Mark Damon. This is so obvious while watching the movie that I wondered if it was a joke. The actor wearing the helmet has big pecs and is hairless but Mark Damon's chest is hairy and certainly not muscular. Very poor direction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Best line of the review: "Mark Damon being whipped is the movie's highlight."

Sounds like on to pass on.