Friday, June 30, 2023

Image of the week!

Hercules (Mark Forest) fights off with a giant snake in HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS (1964)

VHS Covers

VHS covers of SLAVE OF ROME (1961) starring Rossana Podesta and Guy Madison. Few options here.

UK cover of the movie, retitled as SLAVE WARRIOR, which doesn't make much sense. The art on the cover is actually from FALL OF ROME with Lang Jeffries. The back cover below has a photo of Rossana but I believe that's from ALONE AGAINST ROME and not from the actual movie. Notice that the director is Richard McNamara, who is actually the 'director' and voice actor of the English dub not the movie.



Polish cover reflects the UK cover. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023


Giancarlo Prete (kissing) and the dance / feast / orgy in MESSALINA MESSALINA (1977)

This crude and raunchy Italian sex comedy from 1977 has one of the best scenes ever filmed in a PEPLUM movie. The screenshot above is the scene in question. It's an incredible tracking shot that slowly goes around people drinking and being horny while dancers perform to beautiful music (by the brothers De Angelis). The movie used sets from GALIGULA (1979) and this scene is better than anything in the infamous Bob Guccione production. I uploaded the clip 10 years ago on Youtube and it was taken down. There is some nudity but it's not too overt. The movie is over the top crude but I enjoy it nonetheless but this scene in particular is splendid. The movie stars Giancarlo Prete and Tomas Milian and I'm a fan of both actors. Thanks to my great source who provided a plethora of copies of this movie. This is why I watch everything PEPLUM 'cause you never know when you'll come across something good.


 Howard Keel and Esther Williams keep warm on the set of JUPITER'S DARLING (1955)

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


Scenes from THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

Cecil B DeMille's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS is a treasure trove of special effects. It has literally everything but the kitchen sink. Today, I'll only focus of the raising of the obelisk. The shot above is a combination of real actors, matte painting, and model work. All in one shot.

Edited with the amazing full scale set below, and it's one spectacular scene. 

Supervising the raising of the obelisk is Moses (Charlton Heston) and cast. 

Steve Reeves - His Missed Opportunities

In 1959, Steve Reeves was the highest paid actor in Europe thanks to the success of HERCULES (1958). He starred in 5 films after that movie, all made in 1958 - 1959. He was sought after and was approached for many great projects which went nowhere. Here's just 3 of the many major projects that almost were. 

Samson in SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949)


Steve auditioned for the role of Samson in SSAMSON AND DELILAH in 1948, as the card above shows. Director Cecil B DeMille was interested in casting Steve but he thought Steve's physique was something audiences back then weren't ready for so the role went to Victor Mature. Steve eventually went to great success with HERCULES, and I'm sure DeMille and others in Hollywood saw what a missed opportunity not casting Steve as Samson was. Ironically, the poster of SAMSON AND DELILAH, re-released after the success of HERCULES, imitated Reeves' explosive physique (below) which Victor Mature didn't have.


The producers of James Bond were working on DR NO and they wanted Reeves to play 007 but they were willing to pay $100,000 while Reeves was making twice as much for his PEPLUM movies. He declined the offer. Reeves looked great in a suit. It's a shame he declined the offer. Sean Connery got the role. Connery was also into bodybuilding.


The producers of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966) starring Raquel Welch approached Reeves to play the lead male role but they only offered $50,000 for a role that's very physical. Like the James Bond offer, Reeves declined the project which eventually went to John Richardson who, admittedly, was pretty good in it. Remarkably enough, I actually made a Fantasy Casting post about how amazing the movie would have been if Steve had starred in it opposite to Raquel and lo and behold, this Fantasy Casting almost became real when an article years later wrote about this missed opportunity. Reeves and Welch were good friends.

More in a future post!

Monday, June 26, 2023


Hannibal (Howard Keel) swims with Amytis (Esther Williams) in JUPITER'S DARLING (1955)

Depending on who you talk to, the merit of this movie varies wildly. Some say it's one of the biggest disasters ever, that killed Esther Williams' career. While others disagree. One thing is for sure, few people remember this movie. I always forgot about this movie and it only popped up in my mind again by accident. The production itself is excellent but the idea of making a lightweight musical on Hannibal is, well, a head scratcher, no matter how robust Keel's portrayal is. The songs, including 'If This Be Slav'ry (Then Give Me Slavery)', gets the brunt of the criticism. Personally, I like watching it because it has all the elements of the PEPLUM genre but I'm a big fan of PEPLUM movies so I'll watch anything PEPLUM, no matter how cringy it might be. 

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of CHARGE OF THE BLACK LANCERS (1962) 

Photo montage of the actors, including Mel Ferrer and Yvonne Furneaux in that special crown. I like it.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Image of the week!

The immortal couple of Marc Antony (Billy Zane) and Cleopatra (Leonor Varela) from CLEOPATRA (1999; TV)

At the movies...

 BEN-HUR (1959) playing at the Music Box theatre in Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, June 22, 2023


Yvonne Furneaux and Jean Claudio in CHARGE OF THE BLACK LANCERS (1962)

Any PEPLUM film with Yvonne Furneaux is good and this one is no exception. It's a quite an elaborate production, with big sets and cast. It's all but forgotten today. It's always a mystery why this happens. Directed by Giacomo Gentilomo, it's moves at a good pace and it's entertaining. Have you seen it?


Barbara Stanwyck visits the set of QUO VADIS (1951) with Robert Taylor (sans costume), Peter Ustinov and Patricia Laffan. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

HD Alert!

Jack Hawkins and Joan Collins in LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955)

With HD Alert!, I usually write about hard-to-get HD titles mainly from Italian productions. Nearly all PEPLUM movies made in Hollywood have been released in HD. It's standard procedure for them. But Italian productions in HD are harder to get. Anyway, I'm making an exception here with a new Blu-ray release of LAND OF THE PHARAOHS from a restored source. So, the movie will most likely look better than ever. It's already available on Prime and HBOMax in the US. It will be available on Blu-ray on June 27 July 18. You can buy it here or here.


Then & Now: Daniela Bianchi

 Daniela in THE SWORD OF EL CID (1962); a recent photo of the actress

Monday, June 19, 2023


Gordon Scott, as Coriolanus, in CORIOLANUS: HERO WITHOUT A COUNTRY (1964)

Alberto Lupo and Philippe Hersent are on the left. Good movie, probably the most serious of Scott's PEPLUM production. It's not based on Shakespeare's play even though there are similarities. Some find the movie boring, because it's serious but I like it. It's directed by a solid director, Giorgio Ferroni, who directed some of the best PEPLUM movies. Dismissing it because it doesn't have enough action scenes (there are actions scenes but not as many as usual). The movie does employ re-used scenes, from THE TROJAN HORSE or HANNIBAL but the scenes blend better than most typical PEPLUM flick. Music is also from HANNIBAL

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of A QUEEN FOR CAESAR (1962) 

Great poster. The artist really got Pascale's likeness down. Fun film!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Image of the week!

The tumultuous relationship of Landa (Chelo Alonso) and Emiliano (Steve Reeves) in GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS (1959)


Mark Forest aka Lou Degni, on the cover of STRENGTH & HEALTH magazine, January 1958. This was published before his PEPLUM movies.

Thursday, June 15, 2023


Queen Akiba (Bella Cortez) tries to seduce Taur (Joe Robinson) in TAUR THE MIGHTY (1963)

A PEPLUM cliché for sure: a powerful Queen tries to seduce the equality powerful hero in an attempt to subvert him. It rarely works. There's always a possibility of 'romance' but it always ends up backfiring. TAUR THE MIGHTY is a a Twin Production with THOR AND THE AMAZON WOMEN. The two movies are nearly identical with the Evil Queen played by Janine Henry in THOR. Last year, Bella published a book. Here's a translation of what's on the Amazon page.

Apparently different stories, yet united by two dominant motifs: fantasy and love. I dare to say a single common thread that unites them in a symbiosis, an osmosis, which I would define Love fantasy or rather love fantasy. A journey through time that unites two souls who, from the most ancient past, chase each other, unite "like two clouds in the sky which, carried by the wind of time, become one." One love but different ways of loving. And love can be born, for Vellucci, already in childhood as in the first novel, strong and adventurous as in the ancient story of Falanto and Etra, sweetly romantic in Bella Cortez, the Last Dream or as a diabolical obsession in the last story of the Cuban writer: Obsession.

Through Facebook, I asked Bella for an interview but she ghosted me after years of being Facebook friend and actually being one of her fist FB friend.


Steve Reeves goofs around with Gisele Robert at the premiere of HERCULES (1958) in Paris in April 1959. Initially, I thought that was Sylva Koscina, you know, who plays Iole, but it seems from another photo of the same event, it doesn't look like Sylva so... 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023


Scenes from GLADIATOR (2000)

The Oscar award winning special effects from GLADIATOR. The use of CGI was still evolving back then. Do these scenes hold up today? I like it but the uninspired camerawork defeated the effects. In just 4 years, with ALEXANDER (2004), CGI effects vastly improved by leaps and bound.

GLADIATOR (2000) props auctioned

Back in 2018, Russell Crowe was divorcing his wife and he decided to auction off movie props he collected from his movies, including those from GLADIATOR (2000). The final tally: $3.7 million.



In a previous auction, other costumes from GLADIATOR were also auctioned off in 2016. The tunic below fetched $15,786. 


Links: link 1 - link 2

Thanks to Paul to the tip.

Monday, June 12, 2023


Steve Reeves as Aeneas in THE AVENGER (1962) 

On the left are Giacomo Rossi Stuart and Benito Stefanelli. 

This is the sequel to THE TROJAN HORSE (1961). It wasn't directed by Giorgio Ferroni but Giorgio Venturini. It was produced by American Albert Band and his son, Charles Band, stars in it. I won't detail Charles Band career here. If you know, you know. Though not as spectacular as the first movie, it still holds up quite well on its own. In fact, in some ways, I prefer this film to THE TROJAN HORSE. The scene in the screenshot above is cut from nearly all copies except for one French copy. It's not a major scene but it's nice to see a movie that's integral. Charles Band is still alive and has given interviews about his experience in making the movie. Benito Stefanelli was also in THE TROJAN HORSE. He played a villain and has a great scene with Steve. He's a good guy in this and he's good friends with Giacomo's character. My only big complaint about this movie is the US title: THE AVENGER sounds very generic. The UK title, WAR OF THE TROJANS, is much better, imo. It's also known as THE LAST GLORY OF TROY. Patiently waiting for the HD copy of this, uncut of course.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1961) 

Great poster. Credits on the top left which is unusual. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

Image of the week!

Queen Smedes (Chelo Alonso) seduces Maciste (Mark Forest) for her nefarious plans in SON OF SAMSON (1960)

Lobby Cards Set: THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1961)

Original lobby cards set of THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES starring Rory Calhoun, Mimmo Palmara and a host of other actors. Good set. It would have been great to have one card with the statue. Most of the big cast is there.

Thursday, June 8, 2023


Brad Harris, as Hercules, fights Alan Steel in FURY OF HERCULES (1962) 

This movie is a Twin Production with SMASON (1961), which also stars Brad Harris and Alan Steel. Unlike this movie, Steel was a good guy in SAMSON. Their fights in both movies are the highlights and some of the best fights in any PEPLUM movie. Unfortunately, Steel's role is clearly secondary in FURY OF HERCULES and his screen time is not as extensive as the one he had in SAMSON. As good as Brad was, Alan stole his thunder whenever he was on screen. Alan eventually became a star of PEPLUM movies. And for good reasons. He had everything. 


Giovanni Cianfriglia and Steve Reeves on the set of THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959). Giovanni was Steve's stuntman/body double. With Anita Todesco and director Jacques Tourneur.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Clip of the week: THE INVINCIBLE GLADIATOR (1961)

Our hero, Richard Harrison, is participating in a chariot race with an unexpected surprise. With Leo Anchóriz, Leo Anchóriz and Antonio Molino Rojo. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

HD Alert!

Anna Maria Ferrero in a scene from THE GOLDEN FALCON (1955) 

This fun film has had a Blu-ray release recently and it's quite good with some discrepancies. The screenshot above is from the new BD release and the one below is from a TV broadcast in Germany. Aside from the resolution, the image is identical. So the BD wasn't a 'new' copy of this since it was played on TV with the presumably same print. It's great to have in in full widescreen and the widescreen is used brilliantly. Released in 1955, it's one of the earliest 'widescreen' itles available yet, which is great. It's in Cinepanoramic, not CinemaScope. But the image seems overly dark or murky. Something to do with contrast. Anyway, the unfortunate thing about this BD is that there's no English track. Just German.

The other annoying thing about this release: the opening credits are in English which means a copy of this in English is out there but not available. Side note: the credits are in English but the German title was edited in over the English one. But the rest of the credits are in English (see below).

I have three copy of this, in addition to this BD release. I doubt many people will buy it. Personally, I wanted a better copy than the others I already have even though the lower resolution one from the German TV broadcast is nearly identical. You can purchase it here.


Then & Now: Joan Collins

Joan in ESTHER AND THE KING (1960); a recent photo of the actress

Monday, June 5, 2023


Antonio Banderas in THE 13TH WARRIOR (1999)

Does anyone like this movie? I saw it once at a drive-in back in the day and I barely remember anything from it. Since the Vikings couldn't be the enemy and Muslims couldn't be the enemy, a fictional enemy had to be created: a marauding cannibal horde. Their origin is never explained. It was based on a novel by Michael Crichton. The movie wasn't shot in Europe but in Canada. The movie was directed by John McTiernan but additional scenes were made and directed by Crichton after poor test audience reception. It was completed in 1997 but the release was continuously pushed back. The entire movie was re-edited, a new ending was added and a new score. And the original title, EATERS OF THE DEAD, was changed to THE 13TH WARRIOR. The movie reportedly cost $160 million only got $31 million in North America. Many complained that the movie was too dark (lighting) and had a difficult time following the action.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Italian poster of THE SIN OF ADAM AND EVE (1969) 

Nice poster of this Mexican production. The names of the actors are interesting. Not Jorge Rivero but Georg River. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

Image of the week!

Aladdin (Cornel Wilde) serenades Princess Armina (Adele Jergens) in A THOUSAND ONE NIGHTS (1945)