When HERCULES, the Steve Reeves classic, was released in 1958 around the world, the name Joseph E. Levine wasn’t featured on any posters, lobby cards or even during the opening credits. Levine eventually purchased the rights for the movie for distribution in North America and he made a fortune since it became a success in the US. But the movie was also a hit around the world sans Levine’s help.
HERCULES was distributed in Britain (presumably the UK) by Archway Film Distributors. Below are some of the advertising and lobby cards of this release.
This looks like the cover of a press book, and if not then it’s the ad shown in print (newspapers, magazines, etc). It’s really cool since:
1 – Joseph E Levine’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on it.
2 – It states that the movie is making ‘record business’ on its premiere run
3 – It has, in very small print, the name of the original Italian film company
The photos for the lobby cards set are mostly different than the US one. Unfortunately, there are no dates on them.
Stuff from the UK is interesting in that titles released directly to TV in the US were actually released in theatres in the UK. And most often than not their titles differed from the (goofy) ones for the US. In this case though, the title for the US and UK distributions were the same.
Finding dubious stuff for sale on eBay is nothing new. It’s to a point now that one doesn’t really know what’s legit and what are dupes.
The two following DVDs are dupes. I bought them knowing they would be dupes but I was curious to see which versions they were. The DVDs were cheap and shipping was free. So, buying them didn’t break the bank.
The ‘HERCULES VS MOLOCH’ is taken from the Trimark boxset I mentioned in a post below. I had hoped it was a Fan Dub of the widescreen version but no it’s in 4:3 aspect ratio.
As for ‘HERCULES OF THE DESERT’ it’s a Fan Dub that’s available on Youtube. I personally did a Fan Dub of this movie and called it ‘MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE THUNDERING ECHOES’. I don’t have it on my channel but many people have uploaded it to their channels. The ‘HERCULES OF THE DESERT’ copy is in poor quality.
Update: the scene was from GOLIATH & THE GIANTS. The bulk of the scene wasn’t used, only the first few seconds. This is why it didn’t click in my head.
Can anyone identify the movie from this scene? It was included in the soft-porn LIVIA – UNA VERGINE PER L’IMPERO (1973), directed by Joe D’Amato, which contains scenes from other PEPLUM movies that I was able to identify. This scene has me stumped. It might be a scene that was never used and was left on the cutting room floor. Regardless, it’s odd seeing a scene that I can’t identify. From the looks of it, it seems to be a movie from the late 1950s.
I recently purchased a double Blu-ray set of THE ROBE (1953) and THE BIBLE: THE BEGINNING…(1966). It only cost $17. Great deal. The print for THE ROBE is excellent. No complaints. The print for THE BIBLE is also great but the issue, or issues, is with the movie itself. While THE ROBE is a classic ‘Hollywood’ movie, THE BIBLE, directed by John Huston, is anything but. When I purchased the double BR set, I thought that I would finally see that movie correctly since the previous versions I had were so dark that it was nearly impossible to watch the whole thing. Well, unfortunately, the Blu-ray edition is exactly the same: many dark scenes. This means Huston filmed it this way. It’s not all like that but it’s often scenes after scenes of dark moments. It’s a very odd way to approach a subject. The film looks good, even if the overall final product is a tad anemic.
George C. Scott as Abraham. Well, I think that’s him.
Don’t know where his hair and beard begins and ends vis a vis background.
I know electricity didn’t exist back then but wow, can someone turn on the lights?
Huston, who was a genuine director, probably saw that these epics were too bright, too colourful and wanted to imbue this project with a more earthy, serious, and realistic tone but damn, he went a little bit too far here.
Here’s just a sample of the many intertitles in COLOSSUS & THE AMAZON QUEEN (1960). It’s odd that these weren’t translated in any version. They are only seen in the original Italian version. They are cute and their exclusion from the movie diminishes the spirited goofiness of this PEPLUM comedy.
I recently got hold of a high definition copy of DEMETRIUS & THE GLADIATORS (1954) starring Victor Mature, Susan Hayward, Jay Robinson and a host of other actors. The copy was impressive in that I could finally see details, like faces in a crowd, that were hard to see in previous releases. The problem with it was the image was truly murky or grubby looking, and the audio was not that good. So I decided to purchase an actual release of the movie. The only official Blu-ray release for North America is Out-OF-Print (OOP). Only 3000 copies were printed. And now that release is being sold for big bucks online. Since I wasn’t about to spend $200 on its Blu-ray edition, I decided to see if there were any other official releases in other languages. Mind you, I always prefer buying the version released for the NA market but since it was OOP, the only option was one from Europe. Well, I got hold of a Spanish Blu-ray from an eBayer in Switzerland, for only 5 euros. I got it today and the murky, grubby image with the poor audio is present as well. This tells me one master copy was made for all markets and they got it from the same source. Mind you, I don’t know if the US Blu-ray is as poor as the HD copy I got or this Spanish Blu-ray but both are identical, so I presume the US copy is the same. The Blu-ray has multiple languages available, including English. At 5 euros, I won’t complain too much though.
Images below can be made bigger if opened in new window.
The image is terrible. Too dark or too much contrast going on here.
The arena scenes are spectacular, even if the image is grubby.
Faces of extras are now visible or clearer, which is a plus if one is looking to spot a familiar face.
Spectacular scenes like this one really shine in HD. Even if the image is grubby and grainy, one can really sense the scope here.
The arrow points to a hair stuck at the bottom of the image. The hair is there for the duration of the scene. This tells me this print is an old print and they simply up-converted it.
I created this blog in the prospect of a new project: a magazine dedicated to the PEPLUM genre. I planned this for some time (years in fact) but I started it in and around last summer. Well, I besieged with personal and professional stuff that prompted me to delay the project. I’ll be working on the magazine full time during the month of January, which means I have to spend slightly less time here and my other projects. Once it’ll be completed I’ll return full time to the blogs and such.
I’ll have more details on it as the project becomes fully complete. For now this is a just a teaser.
I’m taking a break next week and will take things from there.
Here are some fake magazine covers I created years ago.
Right off the recent release of the spectacular Blu-ray presentation of THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) comes the recent Blu-ray version of ARABIAN ADVENTURE (1979), which, in terms of image quality, is quite frankly the complete opposite of the Steve Reeves classic. How can a film that’s newer look this murky? I don’t know if it’s the film process or anything else but this Blu-ray transfer is disappointing. It looks exactly like the previous version but simply upconverted to HD.
The cinematographer was Alan Hume, so it’s definitely not the way the movie was shot. The image of the Blu-ray is very grainy and at times murky. It’s very average.
Emma Samms, Oliver Tobias and Puneet Sira
The great Christopher Lee as Alquazar
The mechanical, fire-breathing monsters. The same concept as MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE THUNDERING ECHOES (1964)
The elaborate flying carpets chase/battle scene during the movie’s climax, the highlight of the entire production, still looks murky.
The German Blu-ray of THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) starring Steve Reeves arrived this week, just in time for Christmas. It’s such a nice edition that I’m very happy. Is it perfect? Not really but it’s simply the best edition available anywhere. I’ll have more on this at the PEPLUM TV blog.