One of the fun things in scoping old magazines dedicated to the movie industry is finding ads which indirectly dealt with the PEPLUM genre. Here’s a good example: the durability of the prints for SPARTACUS (1960). It seems Hollywood used the epics of the time to boost new technological advances, including THE ROBE (1953) being the first movie shown in widescreen.
Here’s a rare glimpse of an Italian magazine, Epoca, with a page showing Steve Reeves and Mylene Demongeot, still in costume for THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959), walking about a street in modern day Rome, and shopping in a men’s clothing store. I’ve never seen these photos before. Really amazing. I’m going to try to get that issue.
With the recent passing of Max Von Sydow, and a quick overview of his PEPLUM titles, one stood out from the pack: his appearance in the TV movie version of SAMSON & DELILAH. It’s an oddly cast movie with Anthony Hamilton as Samson and Belinda Bauer as Delilah. It’s forgotten, certainly compared to other versions. What’s interesting about the TV movie is how they tried or try to sell in on home video.
Not very inspiring packaging. Only the first one has some nice artwork. Does anyone like this version?
Hylas (Jason Carney) and Hercules (Nigel Green) in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963)
According to Greek mythology, Hercules and Hylas were companions. They were inseparable. The 1963 Ray Harryhausen movie is one of the few which shows the two together. Same-sex relationships back in the 1960s were a no-no, and to a certain extent, it’s still a touchy subject today. Personally I wouldn’t have any issue with it since their relationship wasn’t the main point of the story. In other words, it’s no big deal. Harryhausen was well aware of their relationship when they incorporated these scenes in the movie. But many would have difficulty seeing Hercules, the very representation of masculinity, be involved romantically with another man. I think most people would have issue with this portrayal of Hercules than the possibility of the relationship itself.
The humongous GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES (1961) pressbook for the US release is something else. Who wrote these? Anyway, I have it and I get a chuckle in reading the text describing the movie.
‘FEMME STAR’? The text spells Jacques Sernas’ name as Cernas. It describes her as an Amazonian military leader…?!? She’s a Sultan’s aid. It’s nice that they used her actual name and not Maria Canale or something. They’re right in saying she’s best in ‘sexy, villainess roles’.
Again, who wrote this stuff? They definitely didn’t see the movie.
Does anyone have the laserdisc of DEMETRIUS & THE GLADIATORS (1954)? I’ve never own a laserdisc and I’m not thinking of buying one. But I’d be curious to know the image quality. I’m sure it’s nowhere as close as anything on Blu-ray but I’m thinking: did Twilight Time’s limited edition of the movie on Blu-ray was taken from this?
I still can’t believe how bad the image of the Blu-ray release, presumably taken from the Twilight Time edition. Below is the comparison between the DVD and the BR. The BR image is even cropped. To me this doesn’t make any sense. Was the BR copy simply an unconverted version of the laserdisc? I’m wondering since some have stated the BR is an unconverted version of the DVD but the image of the DVD has more information on the sides.
Motion Picture Daily was a publication, in the VARIETY kind, which was printed, well, daily. It had tons of advertisements of upcoming and successful movies. Here are a couple of examples of PEPLUM movies.
There’s much more of these. it’s pretty cool to see how PEPLUM movies were sold and seen back in the day.
THE MAGIC SWORD (1962) was recently released on Blu-ray. It’s a fun movie with a good cast. It is very colourful and it’s a borderline kids movie (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Now I won’t review the movie itself (I’ll do that on the main blog), just the Blu-ray release. The quality of the transfer is uneven, to say the least. Some parts of the movie, the image is super clear while during other scenes, the grain is very obvious to the point of being distracting and quite annoying. The mostly studio bound set looks even more like a studio-bound movie. But was the quality of the movie itself meant to be seen in HD or even in 4K. The resolution of 35mm film is super high (15k or so) but I believe the print quality of this movie wasn’t the highest and would explain these inconsistencies.
Gary Lockwood played the hero.
Above & below: the climax with the dragon. I’m always amazed by how good this dragon looked, certainly compared to the Hydra in THE LOVES OF HERCULES (1960). But the image is very dark and can’t see that much. The dragon reminds me of GORGO (1961).
Above is a screen grab taken from the DVD release. Compare it to the images above.
The visible grain in the movie is apparent in many scenes, including this foggy one. The transfer cannot replicate the fog and grain is everywhere. Hard to believe this is a Blu-ray release.
Compared to other recent releases, such as THE GOLDEN ARROW (1962) or the spectacular THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) starring Steve Reeves, this one is disappointing.
NERO & POPPEA – AN ORGY OF POWER (1982) is one of many notorious sex / shock movies released in the wake of CALIGULA (1979). Though this Bruno Mattei movie is not on the same scale as the massive Tinto Brass / Bob Guccione sex epic, it’s still has its outrageous moments.
I recently acquired an Italian VHS copy of it and to my surprise many scenes were cut and others were changed to cover up the nudity in some scenes. This version still has nudity and the lurid storyline is the same but when compared to the different releases of this title I already have in my collection shows that these other versions have much more stuff going on. Much more. It’s very odd to see a ‘Sex & Sandal’, in Italian no less, that’s censored.
Above and below: the version showing more nudity and simulated sex (above) while the Italian version (below) has both actors covered.
Discovering these two different copies is a good example of why it’s important to view the majority all versions from different countries or releases. You never know what you’ll find.
Will any of these notorious movies ever be released in HD?
Here’s an old article on Steve Reeves and GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS (1959). It looks like it’s from a press book but I saw the press book and it’s not from it. The article is unintentionally funny.