THE SILVER CHALICE, Paul Newman and a $1200 ad…

Here’s a screengrab of text from the book, PAUL NEWMAN: A LIFE by Shawn Levy describing Newman’s hatred for the first movie he ever starred in, THE SILVER CHALICE (1954). I won’t reprint the text here. Read it. It’s quite funny and sad.

Did Paul hate the movie because critics thought he looked a lot like Marlon Brando? Yes, the movie itself is not successful in a standard narrative kind of way. But the movie is sometimes visually fascinating. It’s amazing that he spent that much movie for an ad and it created the opposite effect: people who caught the ad now wanted to see the movie.

His statement about ‘wearing a cocktail dress’ pretty much sums up the way many view PEPLUM movies. Modern day audiences have trouble seeing men in clothes from Antiquity.


Paul Newman and Pier Angeli

Delilah…who’s your favourite

Delilah of the Bible is one of the most famous female characters ever and has been often portrayed on screen, at the movies or on TV. Which of the following Delilahs is your favourite? Now, this is not a critique of the movies themselves, meaning one could like a Delilah and not necessarily care for the final movie…or like the actress and like the movie but her portrayal is not the ultimate one.

Hedy Lamarr in SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949)

Liana Orfei in HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES (1963)

Rosalba Neri in THE GREAT LEADERS OF THE BIBLE (1965)

Belinda Bauer in SAMSON AND DELILAH (1984; TV)

Elizabeth Hurley in SAMSON AND DELILAH (1996; TV)

Caitlin Leahy in SAMSON (2018)

My favourite, of course, is Hedy Lamarr. Then it’s Rosalba Neri, who’s really good in that role. And in third it would be Elizabeth Hurley, not necessarily because of her portrayal but because of the direction, by Nicolas Roeg, makes the whole project interesting.

I like Liana Orfei and I really like HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES but her portrayal is more campy or comical than tragic. As for Belinda Bauer, well, she’s my least favourite for sure. I can’t say anything of Caitlin Leahy.

Note: I didn’t include Suzzanna from SAMSON AND DELILAH (1987) because that movie is insane.

The Last Days of Sodom & Gomorrah novelization…

I like collecting all things PEPLUM and I came across this novelization of the movie SODOM AND GOMORRAH (1962). I’m like ‘cool, I want it.’ For some reason, this book is expensive on eBay, at least the shipping is expensive for such a pulp publication. Has anyone read it? How does it differ from the movie.

Now, just by accident, I came across this other pulp publication.

It doesn’t have anything to do with the movie. It was published first but still I was wondering if it has any connection with the movie. How different is it from the screenplay for the 1962 movie.

Also, are there any other novelizations of PEPLUM movies? I’d be interested in them.

Upcoming Blu-rays…

There are a couple of titles to be released on Blu-ray or Ultra-HD Blu-ray (aka 4K).

Two Kirk Douglas movies. SPARTACUS will be released in 4K and ULYSSES (1954) will finally have an official Blu-ray release in the US. This was probably prompted with Douglas’ recent death. Good news for the latter. If it’s as good as the one in Europe or Japan, I won’t need to buy them.

Click on title for more information.


SPARTACUS 4K


ULYSSES


GLADIATOR 4K

Two Maria Montez movies coming on Bl-ray. These should be nice to watch in HD.


ARABIAN NIGHTS


ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES

And this one as well…


SON OF ALI BABA

No other European PEPLUM titles on the horizon…

Steve Reeves TV Times…

I collect vintage magazines from the 1950s and 1960s, always hoping to find some cool stuff that pertains to the PEPLUM genre. In a vintage VIM magazine, they wrote about recent TV appearances of Steve Reeves…

Steve appeared on the Ray Bolger show, and on the Steve Allen show in support of ATHENA! I have to find some footage of these appearances, if they still exist.

In the same issue, they also mention future PEPLUM star Ed Fury who made an appearance on MY LITTLE MARGIE show. I have the clip of that appearance.

THE REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960) Blu-ray review

A must see in widescreen!

I recently acquired two new Blu-ray editions, of HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) and REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960). I’ll give a quick overview of the latter. I won’t be reviewing the movie itself (I’ll do that on the main blog) but I’ll still mention a few things about the quality of the movie itself.

So much grain on Rhonda Fleming you’d think she was covered in freckles.

Released by KINO LORBER, REVOLT OF THE SLAVES was one of those PEPLUM movies which languished in obscurity: it never got an official VHS or DVD release. It was released on VHS by Nostalgia Family but I don’t think it was legit (I have the VHS tape). And what copies were available were often in a poor state, such as the one by Nostalgia Family. I was pleasantly surprised when KINO LORBER decided to release this on Blu-ray. From their website, I suspect they did this just for Serge Gainsbourg and Fernando Rey completists, not because of their love of the PEPLUM genre.

A visible scratch on the image, over Lang Jeffries’ face.

As for the image and sound quality: it’s very good but both could have been better. The image is spectacular, showcasing the excellent camerawork by cinematographer Cecilio Paniagua but the grain is everywhere, and white dots and scratches are visible throughout. And the audio is very flat and weak. I wished they had punched it up a notch or two. The score is excellent (some new stuff combined with some familiar score heard in many PEPLUM movies) but the transfer doesn’t do it justice.

Fernando Rey, Ettore Manni and Gainsbourg.

I watched the movie from my 27″ iMac and on a HD Toshiba TV (below). The audio and image issues were present in both instances.

Scenes like this one really showcase the excellent composition of the camerawork.

The quality of previous versions were so bad that I shouldn’t complain but when a movie is released on HD I always expect the presentation to be tops and even though this release is excellent, it’s not really top. It’s a shame because this is one of those PEPLUM movies I can watch over and over again.

Wandisa Guida

As for the movie itself, some say it’s a knock-off of QUO VADIS (1951) or FABIOLA (1949). Personally, I don’t see the similarities. There could be more than a couple of movies about the same subject without having to be compared to other works. I think it stands well by itself without having to be pigeonholed in some category. It’s first and foremost an action movie, which the other two epics weren’t. They were big dramas with action scenes.

As for extras, there are only a couple of trailers, including the trailer for this movie. It’s pretty barebones. They could have at least included the Italian track as an extra.

Overall I’m pleased with it and I’ve already watched it three times. I just hope a stellar version will be released in the not so distant future.

Where’s Rosalba Neri in HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD?

I’ve watched HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) many times and I still can’t find where’s Rosalba Neri. In the FANTOMA DVD released years ago, it was the British version with truncated opening credits which didn’t include her name but the 100 minute long Italian version (the one on the Blu-ray is actually a German print with Italian audio), her name is listed during the opening credits (see below). And her name also showed up at IMDb. But I still can’t find her. I always suspected that she had a major scene that was eventually left on the cutting room’s floor.

Well…


Her name shows up during the opening credits on the Italian version (with German opening credits). But where is she in the movie?

The actress in chains is supposed to be Rosalba. This would make sense: it’s  a brief role but quite memorable, good enough for a credit. But looking at her, one can clearly see that’s not Rosalba. According to many sources, it’s actually Monica Neri, a relative (or sister) to Rosalba, who would sometime substitute for Rosalba when she was ill or overbooked her acting roles. LOL!

So, Rosalba is credited for a movie, and technically speaking she was to be in it but she’s not.

GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES Blu-ray…when?

As I reported back on November 8, 2019, the Blu-ray edition of GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961) was announced. The movie is retitled as SAMSON & THE VAMPIRES but regardless, it was great news. 6 months later the movie hasn’t been released yet. No additional info. Nothing.

It seems the original prints needed major restoration but they should have some short clip to give us hope or an idea how it’s going to be. I’m starting to think it’ll never get released. It’s one thing to announce it and it’s another to have some updates on it. Maybe a sneak peek? Kino Lorber is a good company but this wait is getting ridiculous. The title is not even listed as a pre-order at KL’s website, and titles listed there go all the way to the middle of August.

On a side note, I uploaded this movie on PEPLUM TV Youtube channel but I had to pull it out of circulation because of some dubious copyright claim. I’ve uploaded it on all of my previous Youtube channels without any issues. I’m thinking this was done in preparation for the upcoming Blu-ray release but now it’s been so long that what was the point of claiming it nearly a year ago?

Scary Gordon Mitchell…

This old article from a French magazine is interesting. It’s purports to be a nice article but hmm…It also mentions ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS (1961) but they use a photo from FURY OF ACHILLES (1962)

Here’s the translation of the text.

Gordon Mitchell, 36, American…He is the most frightening of Macistes. Culturist, accomplished sportsman, he rarely cheats in his cinematographic ‘effects’.

He practices wrestling and judo. Despite his age, he remains one of the most spectacular ‘monumnets’ in cinema.

Correct description? The definition of a backhanded compliment?

It’s hard to believe Mitchell was only 36 years old. That’s a rough looking 36 years old.


Achilles (Gordon Mitchell) in a fight with Hector (Jacques Bergerac) in FURY OF ACHILLES. The top photo in the article is not from ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS.

In the American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography by Rob Craig, the author describes Mitchell: “…certainly must be the most gruesome European “muscleman” ever to grace the screen.” (review of Fury of Achilles).

Was Gordon Mitchell scary?

A story about A STORY OF DAVID…

Just a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have a  copy of A STORY OF DAVID (1960) and now I have three versions of it. It’s a rarely shown  movie, made for British TV and for ABC, produced in Britain and also filmed in Israel. It stars Jeff Chandler, who also appeared in SIGN OF THE PAGAN (1954).

This is not a review of the movie but the quality of the copies. Since this was made for TV it doesn’t have a widescreen format. I have a German TV broadcast, one US broadcast and one Canadian broadcast (Moviepix). Overall, the German copies is much better than the other two. It looks more cinematic and the frame  not as cropped as the other two copies.

Let’s compare:

US copy

Angela Browne and Jeff Chandler

Moviepix copy

German copy

The German copy is much better. The other two are way too dark. There’s virtually no difference between the US and Moviepix copies aside from the resolution. If you clearly, the already small frame in the US and Moviepix copies are more cropped. The German one has more information on the sides.

US copy

Basil Sydney as King Saul

Moviepix copy

German copy

The German one looks less like a TV movie.

The major difference are the opening/ closing credits. Since it’s a TV movie, the credits are different than a regular theatrical release. In the US and Moviepix versions, the full credits occur at the end while those end credits are shown at the beginning in the German version. The US and Moviepix versions’ full title is actually A STORY OF DAVID – “The Hunted”. It definitely looks like a TV movie title. The German one is simply A STORY OF DAVID.

I’ll have a full review of this movie at PEPLUMTV.com soon.