Friday, April 24, 2020


I take a break every two months and my last break was at the end of February, so this is the time.

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!"

By the Gods!

Leonora Ruffo, Gordon Scott and Jacques Sernas in a triumphant ending from GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961)

Still no news on the Blu-ray release of this film which was announced last November (as SAMSON VS THE VAMPIRES). It's not surprising that it's taking a lot of time since they apparently had to do a lot of work on the transfer. I've never seen an adequate copy of this fun movie so it's not hard to imagine the original copy was in a bad state.

At the movies...

A movie theatre in France showing TRIUMPH OF MACISTE...but what's up with the 'HERCULES STORY' and the lion? There's no lion in the movie. Nice photo though.

Blog notes

Just a quick update on what's going on since the crisis surfaced months ago.

As you've noticed, I've been posting three times a week with 3 posts instead of two. For now, the blog posts will remain like this until further notice.

I've tried to maintain focus on the fun stuff and for now it's easier this way. I have some more stuff planned (which were delayed due to the crisis) and hopefully I'll focus more attention on these projects.

My recent acquisitions

I didn't acquire that many things this past winter and spring. Most of it were purchases made online (direct downloads). I've acquired plenty of different versions of many movies, and discovered many more new titles (see Treasure Throve below).

The only big purchase I've made months ago was buying the SONS OF HERCULES board game on eBay, at a very good price. I'll have more on this in a future post.

My social media accounts

Don't forget that the blog is one of many places on the internet to find all things PEPLUM.

There's BY THE GODS!, PEPLUM Xtra, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube channels, PEPLUM TV and BY THE GODS!

And of course the official PEPLUM TV store.

Treasure throve...

As the world's biggest PEPLUM fan (aha!), I keep searching for anything to do with the PEPLUM genre. Someone recently provided me with a link to a site which has plenty of titles, PEPLUM and non-PEPLUM, and I've been busy getting titles from there. Since the movies are not in English, I won't provide a link to it but needless to say, I'll be very busy sorting out of these movies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

By the Gods!

Edmund Purdom and Jeanne Crain in NEFERTITI - QUEEN OF THE NILE (1961)

I recently acquired an HD version of this movie and I have to say that I'm stunned. The quality of the image is jaw-dropping. It's one of the best looking PEPLUM transfers I've seen since...the recent THIEF OF BAGHDAD one from Germany. The thing is...this is a Fan Dub. It's not available anywhere to purchase. The audio, taken from a copy from the US, is standard but the image itself is beautiful. I wonder who made this Fan Dub. Anyway, the cinematography by Massimo Dallamano is lush and the movie looks like it was shot yesterday. A real surprise.


Sergio Fantoni, Mylene Demongeot and Steve Reeves together while filming THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959)

Sergio Fantoni, R.I.P.

Sergio Fantoni in ESTHER AND THE KING (1960)

PEPLUM star Sergio Fantoni died on Friday April 17 at the age of 89. His most famous role is that of Eteocles in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959). He was so good in it that Hollywood took note and he eventually starred in some Hollywood productions such as THE PRIZE (1963) and VON RYAN'S EXPRESS (1965), among other titles. He often played villains but was never overtly campy about it. He always gave an air of realism to his characters. I'm a fan of his work and he will be missed. R.I.P..

There's no info on how he died and if it was related to the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Sergio Fantoni battles it out with Vittorio Gassman. Directed by Pietro Francisci. 

CAPTAIN PHANTOM  (aka Captain Fantasma; 1953)
Sergio has a good role in this fun actioner. Just by the look of him, guess what kind of role he played.

IMDb credits Sergio in this movie but it's hard to find him. The man in the background, who is never named or has lines, is the only actor who sorta resembles him. It's hard he would accept such a small role while his star was rising. Starring Frank Latimore.


Above and below: Sergio gives a memorable performance as the mad Eteocles who confronts Hercules (Steve Reeves). He steals almost every scene he's in. Fantoni previously worked with director Pietro Francisci in THE LION OF AMALFI.

Sergio and Virna Lisi. A good role for the excellent actor.

Sergio in another starring role in this rarely seen movie.

Sergio with Ivo Garrani, Mylène Demongeot and Steve Reeves

Another good role for Sergio in a classic PEPLUM. He plays a villain, again, but he's not cartoonish by any means. 

Above and below: Sergio with Mylène Demongeot (above) and Daniela Rocca (below)


Above and below: Sergio in his first American productions, co-starring Richard Egan. Of all the characters in this 'colourful' movie, Sergio brought the most levity to it. He's very good and the role is reminiscent of the one he played in HERCULES UNCHAINED but less crazy.


Sergio was good in this Umberto Leni mini historical drama. He had good chemistry with Hildegard Knef (below) who played the titular role.

Sergio as Ram Chand, with Lex Barker.

Sergio reprises his role as Ram Chad in this sequel.

Sergio also appeared in some TV series and movies. Hope you enjoyed this overview of Sergio Fantoni's career. He continued on acting in non-PEPLUM movies for most of his life.

Sergio in THE GIANT OF MARATHON. A recent photo of the actor before he died.

Monday, April 20, 2020

By the Gods!

Sergio Fantoni and Hildegard Knef in CATHERINE OF RUSSIA (1964)

I always wonder where this set was built. I've seen different variations of it, as in ATLAS AGAINST THE CZAR (1964) or FIRE OVER ROME (1965), but the actual location of the set. This movie was shot in Croatia, so presumably the set was located somewhere there. It's a vast set. Good film directed by Umberto Lenzi.

On a sad note, Sergio Fantoni died last Friday. I will have a full overview of his career on Wednesday.


PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of REVENGE OF THE MUSKETEERS (1964)

Excellent poster with great likeness of actors. A very wordy title in Italian.

PEPLUM TV Official store

The PEPLUM TV store for 2020!

Friday, April 17, 2020

By the Gods!

Part of the cast of REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960)

Rhonda Fleming, Dolores Francine, Ettore Manni, Wandisa Guida, and Fernando Rey.

I've purchased the Blu-ray but in the meantime, I got this copy in HD. I'll review this movie after I got the official BR edition. This movie really stands out, thanks mainly to the solid production values and the excellent cast. Click on the image to view it in HD.

Italian Film Studios

Here's a sample of Italian film studios that distributed PEPLUM films during their reign.

TITANUS released many famous PEPLUM titles, including SON OF SPARTACUS (1962) and SODOM & GOMORRAH (1962)

FABIOLA (1949) starts with this film studio, UNIVERSALIA FILM.

Studio of many PEPLUM movies, including SAMSON & THE SEA BEAST (1963)


CEI-INCOM distributed MESSALINA (1951) among other titles.

DISTRIBUZIONE GLOMER FILM logo seen at the start of SIEGE OF SYRACUSE (1960)

Same Set, different movies

I recently got a movie I wasn't aware of called THE SHOOT (1964). It's also known as THE YELLOW ONE. It stars Rik Battaglia and Lex Barker. To my surprise, this movie, which was shot in Kosovo and Germany, has the same set as seen in SEVEN FROM THEBES (1964), which was shot in Italy and Yugoslavia. Kosovo used to be in Yugoslavia. Both films were produced or were in association with AVALA FILM company. THE SHOOT was released first in 1964. When I saw the set in THE SHOOT, I recognized it immediately from SEVEN FROM THEBES. 

Yes, I'm a big PEPLUM fan.



Wednesday, April 15, 2020

By the Gods!

Ursus (Samson Burke) is put to the test in VENGEANCE OF URSUS (1961)

This scene is an almost exact copy of the classic 'feat of strength' scene from GOLIATH & THE BABRBARIANS (1959) starring Steve Reeves. I like this movie. I like it so much that it was one of the first Fan Dubs I created. The original public domain copy available in the US is in pitiful state. If you come across this movie in English and in widescreen, it's my Fan Dub. I've heard comments from viewers saying that they didn't like it but changed their minds after seeing it in its original state.

Director Luigi Capuano directed a dozen famous titles and though his name rarely comes up as an example of a good director of the genre, he certainly should be. He understood the genre.


Jean Simmons enjoys a cigarette break when filming SPARTACUS (1960)

Then & Now: Diane Baker

Diane in THE WIZARD OF BAGHDAD (1960); Diane photographed in 2019.

Monday, April 13, 2020

By the Gods!

Francisco Rabal (second from left) and cast in this historical epic directed by Blasetti.

I came upon SIMON BOLIVAR (1969) quite by accident this weekend and I'm glad I watched it. When I saw the cast and who directed it, I understood why I was enjoying this historical drama with a decidedly PEPLUM style. Aside from Maximilian School, the rest of the cast is a who's who of PEPLUM cinema.

Rosanna Schiaffino (THE MINOTAUR, ROLAND THE MIGHTY, etc)
Conrado San Martin (COLOSSUS OF RHODES, etc)

Made during the height of the Spaghetti Westerns, this movie shows absolutely no style similar to those movies. It's quite rare to see a movie made in 1969 with soldiers and waring factions be devoid  of the usual scenes and music seen and heard back then. It's probably why the movie is mostly forgotten today. It's more PEPLUM than historical drama or neo-western. The story follows Simon Bolivar's rise from Venezuelan soldier to revolutionist, freeing much of South America from the Spanish empire. The task of covering this massive story would prove daunting but director Alessandro Blasetti didn't care about being accurate or realistic. He created his impression of the Bolivar legend, nothing more, nothing less.

The cast is top notch and it's great seeing so many familiar PEPLUM actors in one movie, certainly Rosanna Schiaffino who nearly steals the movie from Maximilian Schell. She's quite good here.

This historical epic marks the return to the large scale movies for director Alessandro Blasetti, who directed two of my favourites: THE IRON CROWN (1941) and one of the movies which re-ignited the PEPLUM craze, FABIOLA (1949). You can clearly see his style of filmmaking which is pure PEPLUM: fast paced, beautiful cast, a good balance of upbeat tone and tragedy, and large scale scenes. There's even a dance sequence.

The one thing which is incongruous with the setting is the soundtrack. There are three men credited for the score. Aldemaro Romero was Venezuelan, which is apparently something the director wanted but some of the music is at odds with the movie. Part of the soundtrack was also composed (and entirely arranged) by Carlo Savina, a familiar name in PEPLUM music soundtracks, and the best parts of the score are mostly due to him.

Though the director and many in the cast were Italian, this was shot in Spain with a mainly Spanish crew.

My only big complaint about this production is the lack of stunning, memorable scenes. There were so many of them in THE IRON CROWN and FABIOLA that I expected to be dazzled by such scenes here but, alas, there weren't any. This doesn't mean the movie was a let down or it's bad. I just wished the old Blasetti was still present. Sadly, SIMON BOLIVAR was his swansong.

My other (minor) complaint is the dubbing. In the English version, we hear Maximilian's voice but I'm not sure of Rosanna's. She spoke English and made several Hollywood productions but her voice in this is sorta odd. The English dub is not the greatest.

I have an English TV broadcast of it (which is 10 minutes shorter than the original runtime) and the Italian version in widescreen.

7 out of 10.

Maximilian Schell is excellent in the role of the Venezuelan soldier turned revolutionist.

Elisa Cegani and Rosanna Schiaffino. Cegani was memorable in PERSEUS THE INVINCIBLE (1963).

Luis Davila and Maximilian Schell: entire male cast in breeches.

Rosanna Schiaffino is particularly good and beautiful in this movie

BY THE GODS!: Rare photos of Steve Reeves and Mylene Demongeot

Only at BY THE GODS!