That new HERCULES UNCHAINED HD from RAI TV…

Like HERCULES (1958) recently, there’s a new RAI TV HD of HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959) making the rounds on the internet. Like the HERCULES one, the HERCULES UNCHAINED print is the same as the Japanese Blu-ray. It’s sorta nice but it’s not a new transfer. The biggest issue is that it’s cropped or zooming in. It doesn’t have the original aspect ratio which makes it pretty much worthless. Here’s are screenshots of the RAI TV broadcast and the German DVD (below, from my collection).

The screen shot above is from the German DVD. It’s the correct aspect ratio. Below is the one from RAI TV (and also the Japanese Blu-ray). The image is zoomed in or cropped.

Above is a screen shot from RAI TV version (and Japanese Blu-ray) and below is the same scene from the German DVD. Everything inside the red rectangle is what you see in the RAI TV version. Everything outside the red rectangle has been cropped out. That’s a lot of information.

I really don’t like this cropped print. The original framing should be available. If RAI TV can’t even show the correct version of this classic, I’m afraid the movie will never get released properly in HD.

SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR in English on DVD…

SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR (1959), or SIGN OF ROME, is available in English on this German DVD. The only legit DVD release in English of that movie. It’s heavily cut (over 10 minutes of scenes cut…) but it’s in English. The intro credits are in Italian. Not the English intro credits of the US release with SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR, which is a shame. Anyway, for those looking out for an English copy of this movie starring Anita Ekberg (below), this DVD is it.

I already had this version, which had even more cuts. It was broadcast in the UK via MOVIES 4 MEN. The Italian intro credits was removed and SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR title was added to it which faded to black and went straight to the movie. Aside from this, it’s the same print as the German DVD.

New HD TV broadcast of HERCULES…

A new HD version of HERCULES was recently shown in Italy, on RAI (see screenshot above with the RAI logo), and it s now available at some websites. Hurray! Well, hold on there. The version is the exact same version as the Japanese Blu-ray, with that odd filter. The image is sharp but the filter gets in the way of enjoying it. The good thing is, someone added the English audio to it. The bad thing, it’s not the preferred English audio. Here’s a quick observation of this print:

Runtime:

The runtime of this new print is 1:38:54. The Japanese Blu-ray is 1:43:10. The Italian TV broadcast is in PAL which explains the shorter time but it’s the same print.

Audio:

The audio of the Italian broadcast is identical to the Japanese Blu-ray which is not good since it’s very weak.

Someone added the English audio to this print, and this one is robust and stronger than the soft Italian one.

The question is: who added the English audio to this Italian broadcast? I’m happy it was added but unfortunately, it’s not my preferred English dub. The one included on this print is the International English audio, dubbed in Italy. The version seen in North America, the ‘Avco Embassy’ version, is, imo, better. Even though there are some quirks in regards to the dialogue, the voices are more warm, less shrill than the International English version.

Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina. Beautiful!

Intro:

This Italian broadcast doesn’t have ‘Joseph E. Levine presents’ at the beginning, which is correct since Levine acquired the movie while it was in cinemas in Italy. The Japanese version also doesn’t have the Levine intro.

Opening and closing credits:

The opening credit in this one is the original Italian version with the red mural and Italian text.

The International English version of it has an English version, with HERCULES as title with the red mural. But the US version is different with an animated opening credits. I like both but since this is from an Italian broadcast, the Italian version is to be expected.

The closing credit is whole other matter. Back in the past, movies had THE END when a movie concluded. In Italian, it’s FINE. Well, this copy doesn’t have the FINE closing credit. The Japanese Blu-ray also doesn’t have the FINE closing frame. The music, which culminates when FINE appears, is missing. The movie and score peter out and it fades to black. The US copy has a THE END and closing credit with lists of actors and crew.

Above: US version with THE END over Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina. Below is the FINE with the robust score, familiar with all fans of this movie. In this new copy, there’s no FINE. The movie just fades to black before the crescendo followed by FINE. It’s the same on the Japanese Blu-ray.

Image:

The image is sharp and it’s always nice to see the movie at such a resolution. But if you have the Japanese Blu-ray, it’s not much of an improvement since they are the same.

Above: screenshot from the RAI broadcast. Below: screenshot taken from Japanese Blu-ray. They’re the same. It’s has that odd filter which softens the image, certainly the skin of the actors. It makes everyone ‘glow.’

I’m happy this copy exists but it’s not the actual version seen in movie theatres back in the 1950s. I don’t know why this movie is so plagued with odd aspects. Why is so difficult to get a proper copy without defects?

Maybe it’s cursed.

New SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON German Blu-ray…

A German release of SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON is now available. You can choose your store of choice but they have it at Amazon.de

I like this film and I already have a HD copy of it but I wonder how good the new release is. The movie was already available on Blu-ray but the quality was disappointing. Hopefully this new release the transfer is better. Unfortunately, no English track including. Only Italian and German.

There are two different covers to choose from.

The cover above is an amalgamation of poster art taken from SAPPHO THE VENUS OF LESBOS (the fighting men with Kerwin Mathews) and JOURNEY BENEATH THE DESERT aka ANTINEA – L’AMANTE DELLA CITTA.

Two Blu-ray releases from Warner Archive…

HELEN OF TROY (1956), directed by Robert Wise, and LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955), directed by Howard Hawks, will both be available on Blu-ray in July 2023. This is great news. Both releases are from new restorations and with brand new 4K scans. So, they should look spectacular. LAND OF THE PHARAOHS always looked great but HELEN OF TROY DVD release was murky at best. More on these once I get a hold of them.

July 25

AMAZON

July 18

AMAZON

 

THE SON OF SPARTACUS Blu-ray colour issues…

The new German Blu-ray of THE SON OF SPARTACUS is excellent. The image is clear and the English audio is actually available which is often not the case with German releases. My only issue, and it might be seen as a small one, are the colours. This print seems to have various colour tones and hues.

The German Blu-ray edition (above) vs the Warner Archive edition (below). The Warner one is terrible: too dark and overly red but the sky and ocean seem more realistic than the overly yellowish one of the German Blu-ray. The bag on the lower right is also more true to nature in the Warner release than the German one. Though there’s more general details in the German release, the Warner one seems to have more definition (the ground and bag…) Which is the correct one?

This image above is sharp, much sharper than the Warner archive release but it’s overly greyish blue.

This cropped screenshot from the new Blu-ray has beautiful colours here. Not the yellowish or too blue. Skin tones look great.

The German Blu-ray is excellent but there are some discrepancies in regards to the colour tone in many scenes.

Oddities in CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS…

While examining the new German Blu-ray version of CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS (1961), I’ve noticed many particularities. The movie was heavily cut not just for the US version but the French and German versions differ greatly from the uncut Italian version. It’s not just missing scenes but same scenes but shot differently. I’ve seen this in other movies such as QUEEN OF BABYLON (1954), in which a US version was filmed and edited that’s different to the Italian (European) version but this one is simply odd. Take the scene at Monte Gelato waterfalls. The new Blu-ray includes the uncut Italian version and also a DVD-quality version that’s in German. The Monte Gelato scene in both versions are basically the same but shot differently. With Fausto Tozzi and Christine Kaufmann.

Same scene, shot differently: notice how the towel is different. How the placement differs. How he hold is clothes. It’s very odd when one notices it. It’s the same scene but it’s also not the same. Even the clarity is different. BTW, this scene is cut from the French version.

The German and US versions are the Irving Rapper directed/edited one while the uncut Italian version was directed by Lionello De Felice. This is the ┬ámain explanation but if the scene is basically identical why film it twice? Anyway, with QUEEN OF BABYLON, the Italian/European version felt like a rough cut while the US version felt tighter and more direct. The same thing can’t be said with CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS. It’s more sprawling and has so many different sets and situations but the movie sorta feels, in both the uncut De Felice and Irving Rapper versions, cobbled together.

New German Blu-rays have arrived…

I received the three German Blu-rays last Friday. I got to look at them for a while and I’m pleased with all of them. The BDs are:

Steve Reeves (or Giovanni Cianfriglia…) in THE SON OF SPARTACUS (1962)

Fausto Tozzi and Christine Kaufmann in a familiar setting in CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS (1961)

Massimo Serata in THE GOLDEN FALCON (1955)

The best of the three is THE SON OF SPARTACUS since it includes the English audio. A definite plus but the image is also excellent. The other two are missing the English dubs and the image quality is good but a bit murky. The super widescreen of THE GOLDEN FALCON is impressive. I wish all these BDs had the English audio but alas it’s often something too hard to ask for.

I’ll have more detailed overviews of each release soon.

GOR German Blu-rays…

Germany seems to love the GOR movies starring Urbano Barberini. Even if the movies have yet to appear in any BD or DVD formats in the US, the German market is overflowing with them.

Here are 4 Blu-ray editions to select from:

This is the new Blu-ray release with both GOR and OUTLAW OF GOR. Release April 2023.

Blow are three different collectors covers of the same edition released one year ago.

This one claims to be uncut and it includes the Blu-ray and DVD discs.

And last…the DVD release.

Does anyone out there bought all different editions and what differs from one another?