The seemingly endless drama over the release date of the German Blu-ray of DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961) is finally over. The BRs have been shipped. At least in Europe. This edition, which was always ‘out of stock’, is now in stock. I should have more info on it next week, including screen grabs. Stay tuned!
I usually post about Blu-rays of Non-Hollywood movies. Aside from certain titles, nearly all PEPLUM movies made in Hollywood have been released on Blu-ray or HD. I’m talking about the big Hollywood productions. In fact, they’re now releasing some of these titles in 4K.
Two new titles have been released and they’re sorta flew under the radar. THE GOLDEN BLADE (1953) and SWORD OF THE VALIANT (1984). The latter is not really a Hollywood movie since it was made by Cannon Group but it’s now own by MGM. Cannon Group were always outside of Hollywood though some of there titles were sometimes released through a Hollywood studio.
These Blu-ray releases are excellent.
I always thought SWORD OF THE VALIANT looked cheap back in the good old days of VHS but with this BR release, the movie looks quite good. Much better than it ever did. It still sorta looks on the cheap side but the pristine widescreen image gives the movie a cool classy look. It’s a shame about that wig Miles O’keeffe had to wear throughout the movie.
THE GOLDEN BLADE is one of those small Arabian adventure movies, only 81 minutes long, which are often overlooked by fans of the genre or in general. This one is one of the best of the bunch. Fun, colourful, well acted certainly by Piper Laurie. The Blu-ray is beautiful. It’s not a widescreen production and the movie was clearly made in a Hollywood studio lot but I have to say that the BR really makes this movie shine. Some of the lighting, usually seen as flat in previous releases, now looks quite beautiful and elaborate (here’s a comparison of the movie). A fun little movie with Rock Hudson as the action hero. I’ll have full reviews of these titles at PEPLUMTV.com in the near future.
A quick note: the Blu-ray edition of THE WONDERS OF ALADDIN will be available on November 17. I already pre-ordered it. I will report on it after my break. No screengrabs available yet.
More good news. NEFERTITI – QUEEN OF THE NILE (1961) starring Jeanne Crain, Edmund Purdom and Vincent Price, will have an official Blu-ray release in Germany. The Amazon link doesn’t have any screengrabs but if a recent print I acquired recently will tell well the image quality will be stunning.
Edmund Purdom and Jeanne Crain. A screengrab of a HD copy I got recently. I dunno the source of it (from this upcoming disc or TV broadcast…?) but needless to say it’s beautiful.
Advertising placed in a Hollywood trade publication in 1957 touting the success of 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. I love these ads. They say more about the movie than the movie itself, even if these ads were stuff straight from the publicity department of the studios, in this case COLUMBIA PICTURES.
There’s a current batch of PEPLUM titles now available in HD. These titles are not available on Blu-ray but were broadcast in HD or are available for streaming. This bodes well for the genre. Titles long left in obscurity now look absolutely amazing! Looking forward to more titles in the future.
Above and below: CLEOPATRA’S DAUGHTER (1960) starring Debra Paget and Corrado Pani. The most stunning HD print of a PEPLUM title, even surpassing the equally stunning German Blu-ray of THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) starring Steve Reeves. I’m just amazed by the clarity of the image. This movie has not been released on BR but is available as a streaming title in Italy.
Above and below (2): Another beautiful print of a favourite movie of mine, ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES (1962) starring Georges Marchal. Not as stunning as CLEOPATRA’S DAUGHTER or THIEF OF BAGHDAD it’s still great to see.
ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES was filmed on the Canary Islands. As the image above shows, the image quality is not as perfect as CLEOPATRA’S DAUGHTER.
Above and below: SULEIMAN THE CONQUEROR (1961), starring Giorgia Moll and Alberto Farnese (above) is hard to get movie and previous prints were always disappointing. Not anymore. Though not super pristine as other prints (as the below screengrab shows), is a definite improvement over other releases. Worthy of a Fan Dub.
And last but not least. A recent showing of SON OF SAMSON (1960) on the Italian network, RAI. The image is stunning. Unfortunately, the aspect ratio is not full 1920×1280 HD. It, and Mark, still look great though.
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
This ad, published in MOTION PICTURE DAILY, shows the two big upcoming movies from Paramount in the *fall* of 1959: LI’L ABNER and the re-release of SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949)
The re-release of SAMSON AND DELILAH was set after the success of HERCULES, which was made in 1958 but released in August of 1959 in America. Remarkably enough, Steve Reeves auditioned for the role of Samson but his physique was considered too much by DeMille who eventually cast Victor Mature. Just to show you how influential the success of HERCULES was, just look at the original poster of SAMSON AND DELILAH when it was released in 1949 and compare it to when it was re-released in the fall of 1959.
The new poster amplified the muscular action hero and replicated the look of Steve Reeves as Hercules even though Victor Mature wasn’t even close to having the body of Reeves. Even the text “THE MIGHTIEST MORTAL WHO EVER LIVED!” is a direct line taken from HERCULES’ trailer. And notice how SAMSON is huge and ‘…AND DELILAH’ is much smaller. DeMille and Paramount finally took notice of Reeves.
Second, Steve Reeves tried to audition for the role of Li’l Abner.
He didn’t get the role which wasn’t a big loss considering how bizarre the movie was. It might have been a big loss for Paramount though. Had Steve starred in LI’L ABNER and the film released right after HERCULES, who knows how successful it might have been. I’m certain someone back then at Paramount mused about this. Even so, the apparent influence of Reeves and the success of HERCULES was obvious in the trade publication ad above.
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.
Great news on the Blu-ray front: THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) starring Steve Reeves, Giorgia Moll, Hedy Vessel and Arturo Dominici will finally get a proper HD transfer. This has been a long time coming. All DVD releases were terrible, which horrible pan & scan or faux widescreen aspect ratios, and murky image quality. This is one of my most sought after titles and it’ll be available in Germany. I’ve already ordered it. This Blu-ray also has the Italian, German and English audio. This is a great Christmas present. In fact, the movie has a very Christmassy feel to it so hopefully I’ll receive before the holidays. Thanks to Chris for this tip.
Link to Amazon.de : THIEF OF BAGHDAD
Check out the screengrabs.