Peplum Paradise Part 1: Italian Historical and Fantasy films 1949-1969by PeplumParadise | created - 19 Dec 2012 | updated - 25 Oct 2015 | Public
This is a list of historical (set pre-1800) or historical-fantasy films produced or co-produced by Italy between 1949-1969 - the golden years of peplum/sword and sandal films.
The list is alphabetical using the most common English titles (where applicable), so the IMDb titles may appear to be all over the place alphabetically.
Hopefully this list is as complete as possible, but I would welcome any suggestions of titles I may have omitted.
I have included a few additional titles at the end of the main list which bear some relevance to the subject.
I will be updating the list regularly with new and expanded reviews and any new titles that I may discover.
Latest Updates: Expanded Review: Women Of Devil's Island (1962) Expanded Review: Charge Of The Black Lancers (1962) New Review: The Magnificent Adventurer (1963) New Review: Zenabel (1969) New Review: Tower Of Screaming Virgins (1968)
To keep up with my latest reviews join my "Peplum Paradise" Facebook group.
Please note that I am not in the business of selling copies of films, only exchanging with other collectors.
This list is a companion piece to my other lists - I did have them linked but IMDb messed them up so I'm afraid you'll have to search by title on Google or look in my "Other Lists" box if there is one in the right panel: Peplum Paradise Part 2: Italian Historical and Fantasy films from 1970 onwards Peplum Paradise Part 3: International Historical and Fantasy films 1949 onwards Peplum Paradise Part 4: Asian Historical and Fantasy films 1949 onwards Peplum Paradise Part 5: Animated Historical and Fantasy films 1949 onwards Peplum Paradise Part 6: Historical and Fantasy films Pre-1949 Peplum Paradise Part 7: Historical and Fantasy Dramatic TV Productions
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1. Adriana Lecouvreur (1955)
100 min | Biography, Drama
2. Don Juan's Night of Love (1952)
102 min | Adventure
Mandrin, the French army deserter, becomes the leader of a gang of smugglers in Piedmont. He is loved by the beautiful innkeeper Rosetta but draws attention to the Marquise de Montbricourt,... See full summary »
THE ADVENTURES OF MANDERIN
Like quite a number of 50’s and 60’s Italian productions, this one originally received a wide international release but today remains noticeable in it’s absence in any DVD or video release in any language, though fortunately I was able to discover an Italian language print online and it is this one I am reviewing. Raf Vallone plays the title character, a notorious real-life thief and highwayman in 18th century France and a hero to the poor. Anyone viewing it under either of the alternative English language titles might understandably feel short-changed since it is not much of a romance, does not feature Don Juan, and the character of Madame de Beaudricourt (Michele Phillippe), a favourite of the King whose character resembles the notorious Madame de Pompadour, only appears half way through and then only briefly. There are apparently a number of historical inaccuracies (for instance there is no evidence that Manderin and Madame de Pompadour ever met), but these aren’t really relevant to your enjoyment of the film. It is a fairly lively and likeable adventure, which doesn’t take itself too seriously and can be enjoyed even without a full understanding of the language you are watching it in.
3. The Adventures of Scaramouche (1963)
98 min | Adventure
The adventures of Robert Lafleur, alias Scaramouche, are the sensation of his time, thanks to his talent as an actor and charm as an incorrigible seducer. He becomes the enemy of the ... See full summary »
THE ADVENTURES OF SCARAMOUCHE
Enjoyable period costume romp, with all the intrigue and infidelity you would expect from this particularly French genre (unusually shot in Spain). Primarily of interest today for it’s featuring four female genre stars; Gianna Maria Canale, who has surprisingly little screen time given her third billing status, Michele Giradon, who forayed into peplum with “Devil of the Desert against the Son of Hercules”, Yvette Lebon, who had featured roles in “Cleopatra’s Daughter” and “Ulysses against the Son of Hercules”, and an unbilled Helga Liné, whose next film, “Goliath at the conquest of Damascus” established her as a peplum name. Gerard Barray is on familiar ground playing the title role, an actor who spends more time in women’s boudoirs or duelling than he ever does on stage, which will be familiar to western audiences from the 1952 Hollywood version, which starred Stewart Granger. It’s all inconsequential fluff of course, but well directed and edited at such a relentless pace that you barely have time to pause for breath.
4. Three Sergeants of Bengal (1964)
97 min | Action, War
This action-packed adventure/jungle film starts out when three British soldiers stationed in Malaysia are sent to Fort Madras to help the commandant fight off an elusive bandit who is terrorizing the countryside.
This above average entry in the ‘British in India’ peplum sub-genre is far more fun than any of the ‘Sandokan’ series. Richard Harrison, Ugo Sasso and Nazzareno Zamperla are three renegade officers given a second chance when they are sent on a hopeless mission, surviving elephants, scorpions and headhunters along the way. All three play it tongue firmly in cheek, though it’s Sasso as the alcoholic doctor sneaking a drink at every opportunity who steals the show. On the minus side Harrison keeps his shirt on throughout, and Guida is wasted as little more than window dressing. The following year Harrison and Zamperla appeared together again in the similarly themed ‘Jungle Adventurer’.
Boyd's Review: Richard Harrison stars in one of the best Raj Peplums … Three soldiers have to find and destroy some guy called Sikki Dahma … Great name … And of course Wandisa Guida turns up as female eye fodder … Though the men were doing perfectly well without her … This one moves along at a great pace… All fairly tongue in cheek … Umberto Lenzi really does excel with this and turn it into a great Saturday afternoon fun family movie … And that’s not meant as a putdown … Well worth watching if it turns up an a screen near you soon
5. Odissea (1968– )
GP | 109 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Odysseus' journey told in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. After fighting in the Trojan War, Odysseus spends years trying to return home to Itaka.
THE ADVENTURES OF ULYSSES
Following the inexplicably rapid demise of the peplum film industry in 1965-1966, several of the genre’s stars found work in this epic Italian mini-series produced three years later by the man responsible for launching the genre a decade earlier, Dino De Laurentis. Beautifully shot, but a little slow moving and dreamy, particularly for non-Italian or German speakers viewing the only available commercial options of the full-length version. Somewhat of an endurance test at over 6 hours in length (originally 7 ½ hours), but a rewarding one if you can last the talky first hour, and infinitely preferable to it’s nearest peplum relative, “The Giants Of Thessaly”. A fitting epitaph to the genre. The only English language version currently available from Video Screams runs 25 minutes shorter than even the US theatrical version, and only offers a frustrating glimpse of how this epic should be seen.
Boyd’s Review: This was one of my favourite discoveries of the year … How this 1968 Italian television adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey isn’t more well known is beyond me … It is visually totally spot on … I watched the whole 6 hours in Italian with no subtitles and it held me throughout … And Bava’s work on the Cyclops segment was wonderful to see … The set and costume design are just perfect … This is so obviously not a Hollywood production … It all looks real and possible … Perhaps a bit clean … But that is acceptable … It outshines Fellini’s Satyricon in as much as it has the wonderful design but non of the over indulgence …The acting … Even from Barbara Bach … Is perfect … Bekim Fehmiu and Irene Papas are superb … And the film lingers on endless beautiful faces… Male and female … Stylishly taking you into another world … And if this film proves one thing … Nobody could light a film like the Italians … Try and see this … Its marvellous … And it really does deserve a subtitled release
6. My Uncle Benjamin (1969)
90 min | Comedy
Frankreich 17.Jh: Landarzt Benjamin liebt die reizende Gastwirtstochter Manette. Doch Manette kennt ihn als unverbesserlichen Schürzenjäger und verlangt vor der Liebe die Heirat. Als ... See full summary »
To be reviewed
7. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
Approved | 138 min | Biography, Drama, History
The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.
This is pretty much what you would expect from a biography of a man who spent the majority of his life sculpting and painting, namely it’s a lot less interesting than the subject matters of it’s subject. Before the actual film begins you are treated to a ten minute retrospective of the artist’s work, which while interesting and informative, is also rather frustrating while waiting for the story to start. That the film is likeable at all is, surprisingly, totally down to the central performance of Charlton Heston as Michaelangelo, though he is playing an annoying and arrogant ass (no comment). He is surprisingly, but somewhat effectively, paired with Rex Harrison as an unlikely Pope who doubles as military leader, while Diane Cilento is rather drab as the love interest the artist isn’t interested in. It probably comes to life about as much as is possible given the subject matter, but just remember that at times you will be watching paint dry – literally. Keep a look out for a number of familiar peplum names in small featured roles who are inexplicably missing from IMDb's credits including Rosalba Neri, Daniele Vargas and Giulio Donnini.
8. Aida (1953)
Approved | 95 min | Musical
Aida, featuring the actress Sophia Loren, is a film adaptation of a theatre performance written by Verdi. The plot revolves around the character Radames who falls in love with what he ... See full summary »
A strange operatic adaptation which visually and thematically definitely falls within the peplum genre. It’s sumptuous to look at and contains some stunning sets, set pieces and dance routines, but the modern viewer has to contend with the decidedly odd sights of a pre-international fame Sophia Loren in black face and a pre-Miss Moneypenny Lois Maxwell singing/shouting at each other in other peoples voices as Ethopian slave and princess respectively. Add to that the ‘English language version’ having English narration, but no subtitles for the singing in Italian, and it’s pretty much all round bizarre. Of definite interest as an early peplum oddity though.
9. Si le roi savait ça (1958)
Pascal's life should have been normal and happy. A shepherd in his native Provence, he was a friendly young man who very naturally fell in love with Vivette, the daughter of a rich farmer. ... See full summary »
AL SERVIZIO DELL’IMPERATORE
10. Simbad contro i sette saraceni (1964)
80 min | Action, Adventure, Romance
A rebel leader returns to his city for a final confrontation with the evil king he is fighting. However, he finds himself attracted to the king's beautiful niece.
ALI BABA AND THE SEVEN SARACENS
Colourful, visually untypical peplum, looking more like some 40’s Maria Montez opus. Otherwise it’s business as usual, with 8 representatives of opposing tribes (the Saracens) battling it out for rulership of the land, including nasty Omar (Gordon Mitchell looking far more at home as the over-tanned mascara wearing villain than he ever did as a hero) and the rather puny Ali Baba (Dan Harrison-real name Bruno Piergentili). Carla Caló, given a chance to play nasty for a change, relishes every lash of the whip she inflicts on her slave girls. Of note is that the scenes in the English and European language versions play in completely different order with little change in the end result. Be warned, this film contains an annoying dwarf AND an even more annoying mute eunuch!
Boyd’s Review: Now I might as well be honest from the outset, Gordon Mitchell frightens me. He looks like an untrustworthy cat and has one of those sinewy muscular bodies that I have always found a little repulsive. He is also a very bad actor. In this he plays Omar, the villain of the piece, and as soon as we get away from him ponsing round with some tart, to a scene in a torture chamber, you realise that it could all have been so much better without him. Anyway old Omar wants to take over the throne and to do that he has to fight 7 warriors who each represent one of the tribes of the country. Ali Baba is the head of the Mahariti, Omar’s most hated tribe. Princess Fatima meets Ali Baba when she finds him unconscious in the sand dunes, and later falls in love with him as soon as he starts pushing her around !!! They are captured by Omar’s forces, Ali meets a dwarf in prison, and Fatima ends up in the harem. The dwarf is small enough to squeeze through tunnels and take messages between them. Featuring dancing boys, face painting tramps, a harem revolt and dwarves with spears, you would think it would be more amusing than a bag of lambs intestines … but it isn’t.
11. Alone Against Rome (1962)
100 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A Roman Consul, on his way to fight a border war, stations a garrison of soldiers in a provincial town. The townspeople aren't happy with this situation but decide it's in their best ... See full summary »
ALONE AGAINST ROME
A more apt title would have been “Everybody Against Rome”, since when the Romans invade a town the locals do all they can to fight back. Poor Fabiola (Rossana Podesta) has it worse than most, as her family and household are humiliated, imprisoned and killed, her fiancé Brenno (Lang Jeffries) is whipped and taken off to gladiator school, and she herself is made plaything of Silla (Philippe Leroy), leader of the Roman garrison. Sub-par performances and a weak script mean there’s little of value here other than for diehard genre fans, though there are a couple of impressive gladiatorial sequences which appear to have been filmed in the actual Coliseum in Rome.
Boyd’s Review: Lang Jeffries and Rossana Podesta, who is as beautiful and glamorous as ever, can’t manage to save this rather pedestrian historical ‘Romans getting it wrong but everything turning out right in the end’ snooze fest...marred once again by insidious Christianity.. That is probably going to be the longest sentence I use in a while, but it’s all I have to say about this really. There’s nothing wrong with it...but there’s nothing right either. Having said that, Riccardo Freda directed the action scenes in the arena...he should have done the whole film. Although the print I saw was pan and scanned and sepia, I can’t see that seeing a crisp new transfer would make this anywhere near as good as a lot of people seem to think.
12. Alvaro piuttosto corsaro (1954)
90 min | Musical
To be reviewed
13. Amazons of Rome (1961)
Not Rated | 93 min | Adventure, Drama
A warrior chieftain dashes between his barbaric allies and a beleaguered city that's being defended by embattled women warriors.
AMAZONS OF ROME
Some of the most bizarre peplum casting finds Sylvia Syms as Clelia, leader of a band of mini-skirted female rebel Roman warriors (around 50 in number, although the script and tagline claim 1000). Equally unlikely mis-casting finds Louis Jourdan as Drusco, leader of the barbarian forces. Naturally the pair fall in love, and their union brings about a truce between the warring Italian factions. Standouts as always are the bad guys of the piece, Nicole Courcel as the vengeful Lucilla who demands Clelia be tied to a post, whipped and stripped naked (we get 2 ½ out of 3), and her scheming cohort Rasmal (Nicolas Vogel). Enjoyable as light entertainment, but historically dubious.
Boyd’s Review: Not a beefcake movie, this one more of a minor historical epic. With a good cast who take it all fairly seriously and for once it pays off. Louis Jourdan, Michel Piccoli and Sylvia Syms in a rare Euro movie outing, and she is really good. She was obviously going through a bit of a St Joan phase and she really has star quality in this film. It’s the Etruscans and the Barbarians against Rome in this one, good Battle scenes, decent storyline. Different in as much as it concentrates on the Roman women’s determination to fight for justice, if not alongside their men then on their own. Not that imaginative visually but up there with most higher budget material of the day and certainly worth watching for the scene where Syms is flogged and then stripped naked...and the trick played by the Barbarians to shield her modesty : )) The idea of course that being naked in Roman times would not bother anyone, but seeing this happen to Silvia Syms is another matter altogether. Well worth catching on a Sunday afternoon.
14. Gli amori di Angelica (1966)
88 min | Adventure, History
15. The Amorous Corporal (1958)
87 min | Adventure
THE AMOROUS CORPORAL
16. Andrea Chenier (1955)
17. Angélique, marquise des anges (1964)
TV-14 | 115 min | Adventure, Drama, History
In the first of the Angélique series, the beautiful feisty teenage heroine becomes entangled in a political assassination plot and is betrothed to a stranger who is twelve years her senior and a reputed sorcerer.
It’s not difficult to see why this production had the great international success it did, though it’s hardly the stuff that one would imagine would have led to four sequels. It certainly has it’s charms, the production values are high, the photography attractive, and the performances likeable if unexceptional. The storyline however is mostly fluff along the lines of Beauty and the Beast, about a rude and rebellious girl in 1600’s France, forced to marry a disfigured man against her will, who eventually succumbs to his charms, only to see him sentenced to death for witchcraft. Michele Mercier, already a peplum veteran, turns in a feisty performance, and her willingness to frequently disrobe certainly can’t have hindered the box office. The film also has more peplum credentials than are initially apparent – in addition to the presence of Giuliano Gemma as Angelique’s true love, and Rosalba Neri inexplicably way down the cast list, the film was also partially filmed at Italy’s Cinecitta studios, as were all it’s sequels…and there’s a dwarf!
18. Angelique and the King (1966)
TV-MA | 100 min | Adventure, History, Romance
In the third of the Angélique series, the heroine is sent on a mission by King Louis XIV, and later finds herself the subject of rumors.
ANGÉLIQUE AND THE KING
The third part of the Angelique saga gives you more of the same, with our heroine (Michele Mercier) seducing various kings, princes and assorted other males, but while the quality remains high and it works perfectly well as a continuation of the story, it does not work so well as a stand alone entertainment since it relies too heavily on a knowledge of what has gone before. The convenient disappearance of her second husband and reappearance of her first also stretches credibility somewhat. While there is less nudity on view than in previous episodes, there is a scene between Angelique and the Persian ambassador (Sami Frey) which is certainly as bizarrely kinky as anything that DeSade ever came up with, and also a devil-worship subplot which is never satisfactorily concluded. This is also the least ‘Italian’ of the series, having lost Gemma and Neri, and without the other familiar faces that would turn up in the following instalments.
19. Angelique and the Sultan (1968)
TV-MA | 105 min | Adventure, Romance
In the fifth and final of the Angélique series, the beautiful heroine is sold into a sultan's harem.
ANGÉLIQUE AND THE SULTAN
The fifth and final instalment in the Angelique saga carries on directly where Untameable Angelique left off and finds our heroine (Michele Mercier) a prisoner in the harem of the Persian sultan. This one boasts some beautiful locations and cinematography, but is the weakest in the series as a standalone entertainment. Another familiar peplum face crops up with Erno Crisa as the Turkish ambassador.
20. Merveilleuse Angélique (1965)
Not Rated | 105 min | Adventure, History, Romance
In the second of the Angélique series, the heroine joins a group of bandits, rescues her children, becomes a successful businesswoman, and once again becomes entangled in politics and matters of the heart.
The second instalment in the Angelique saga picks up where the first left off, with Angelique using all her wiles to regain her position in French society which she lost in the first film. Most of the cast return, including Michele Mercier as the flamboyant heroine, Giuliano Gemma, who rescued his childhood sweetheart at the end of the first part but dies early on here, and Rosalba Neri in an expanded role as a feisty gypsy trollope. The pace here is brisker, and the plot a little lighter, but the production values remain high and the picture is on a par with its predecessor.
21. Anthony of Padua (1949)
78 min | Drama
Fernando, a boy growing up in 1920's Italy, is inspired by reading a biography of Saint Anthony of Padua (after whom the city of San Antonio, Texas is named.) The wife of a young Roman ... See full summary »
ANTHONY OF PADUA
22. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love (1958)
91 min | Drama, History
Antigonus, archon of Corinth, wants to build a magnificent temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite, for which the people are oppressed by new and very high taxes. The sculptor Demetrius, ... See full summary »
APHRODITE, GODDESS OF LOVE
“Gossips of Rome” would be a more apt title for this dull drama of backstabbing, dancing girls and Christians - in which the titular goddess fails to put in an appearance other than in statue form. Despite the best efforts of some of peplum’s most reliable supporting players to camp it up (the outrageously costumed Irene Tunc, along with Ivo Garrani and Mino Doro, are stand-outs), they fail to atone for the lack of action and muscle and two uncharismatic leads. Notable for containing some rare peplum nudity from Tunc.
Boyd’s Review: Good peplum cast, even Clara Calamai, “THAT” lady from Profundo Rosso, but it couldn’t save it for me, much too much religious nonsense. Well at least I think there was, only saw it in Italian. OK to look at, burning of Christians at stake and then getting bored and shooting arrows into them. Brief scene of tumbling beefcake, but unless there was a bloody good script then I think this one probably bombed. Bored me silly even though the baddie died of the plague in the end : )
23. Arms of the Avenger (1963)
95 min | Action, Drama
ARMS OF THE AVENGER
As far as I was able to gather from the only available review copy in German, and no information on the internet whatsoever, what we have here is a costume revenge drama, with John Drew Barrymore, Giacomo Rossi Stuart and one other donning masks and becoming bandits after some event which happened before the opening credits drives them to it, in a Robin Hood sort of way. Good to see Barrymore surprisingly at ease in a non-villainous role for once.
24. At Sword's Edge (1952)
79 min | Adventure
AT SWORD'S EDGE
25. Atlas Against the Czar (1964)
91 min | Adventure, History
The czar Nicolas sends a secret mission of experts to find a hidden treasure. But at the same time he prepares a group of mercenaries who should kill the members of the mission after their ... See full summary »
ATLAS AGAINST THE CZAR
While searching for lost treasure some Russians uncover a sarcophagus containing the body of the blonde, permed Kirk Morris as Maciste (where did Atlas come from?). Rubbing some oil on his left nipple soon brings our hero back to life, and before you know it he is up and running around, stuffing his face, grunting fluent English/French/Italian/German (delete as appropriate), and wrecking havoc on the royal court, throwing Russians, horses, barbells and other heavy objects around, and managing to stay warm with only his skimpy posing pouch while all around him are decked to the nines in furs. Massimo Serato is on villain duty as the Czar of the title, ably assisted by Dada Gallotti and Giulio Donnini. This is as enjoyably daft as they get, though the first half hour is a bit slow with lots of people whose names all end in vich riding around and plotting, and not much action takes place until Maciste finally appears.
Boyd’s Review: OK, this one is set in Russia though some of the cast seem to be dressed as Eskimo’s and the palace looks distinctly Middle Eastern to me. Also I’ve only seen this in French, which isn’t the best language to watch these things in, especially when you don’t speak it. Anyway, Maciste doesn’t turn up till about 25 minutes into the film, when the Cossacks discover him buried in a cave. Then it takes them a couple more minutes to bring him back to life. Kirk Morris is Maciste, buff and horny, and manages to look not too farcical as he runs round in his loincloth when everyone else is dressed as Russians. Now I’m a bit vague as to the plot of this due to the language barrier, and unfortunately the director and cameraman are a bit lacking in style and imagination. It’s OK, but nothing special, really only worth watching for big Kirk Morris fans.
26. Atlas Against the Cyclops (1961)
Not Rated | 100 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Strongman Maciste must battle the one-eyed Cyclops monster that is ravaging the land of Sadok, while at the same time fending off the advances of the evil Queen Capys, who wants to do a little ravaging of her own.
ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS
Lively entry with Gordon Mitchell in better physical shape than usual in his peplum debut, and Chelo Alonso on top form as an evil queen with an angry Cyclops to appease. When Queen Capys (Alonso) orders that the last descendent of Ulysses be killed, her soldiers mess up and kill the boys father and the baby escapes, while Penope (Vira Silenti), the boys mother, winds up among the prisoners waiting to be given to the Cyclops on a nearby island. Meanwhile Maciste (Mitchell) wakes up on a beach just in time to save the child by cuddling a lion to death. Leaving the child in safe hands, Maciste sets out to rescue Penope, on the way inadvertently saving Capys’s life. Maciste is captured, and Capys falls for his charms, belatedly switching sides, but will their alliance be in time to save the life of the baby whom Ifito (Dante DiPaolo), her former right hand man, is taking to be sacrificed to the Cyclops (Aldo Podinotti)?
Boyd’s Review: Chelo Alonso is the evil queen who keeps a Cyclops in a cave on an island and feeds her enemies to it...and Dante Di Paulo (George Clooney’s uncle) is her sidekick, and suffers a very nasty fate a la Deodato’s “Cut and Run”...though obviously not as graphic. The muscle is played by Gordon Mitchell (groan), who saves the wicked queen when an earthquake strikes as she’s in another cave consulting an oracle. Raffaella Carra (of “Do it, Do it again” fame), is in there too...as is Massimo Righi, one of De Paulo’s co-stars in Bava’s “Blood and Black Lace”. Of course Mr Mitchell could make wood look emotive, and this film does suffer a little due to that...and some of it is incredibly stage bound, especially one scene where GM enters a glade of maidens playing, causing one of them to faint when she takes off her blindfold and sees his face : ) Then he gets captured and has to play tug-of-war over some lions. Chelo falls for Gordon of course, and the usual shenanigans ensue. To be honest, not too bad really...I was thinking I should try and get over my Gordon Mitchell phobia...but I just saw him ponce about the set again and I can’t!
27. Attack of the Moors (1959)
80 min | Adventure, Drama
ATTACK OF THE MOORS
With perennial bridesmaid Rik Battaglia the nominal star, a virtual who’s who of peplums finest supporting players are given their chance to shine. There must have been some mix-up in the casting department the day that Chelo Alonso was cast as an Arab princess while Liana Orfei was given the role of a feisty Spanish dancer, but casting curiosities aside this is a highly enjoyable romp, with the unimportant plot having something to do with battles between French nobility, Spanish gypsies and Arabian infidels. Anyone who studied Othello at school may be somewhat confused by a distinct lack of moors! The (rather posh) English language version has been dubbed on top of, rather than in place of, the Italian original, giving the effect that there are constantly people talking in the background, amusing at first but it does begin to grate after awhile (adding to the confusion the opening credits are in German!).
28. Attila (1954)
TV-14 | 80 min | Biography, Drama, History
Attila, the leader of the barbarian Huns and called by the Romans "The Scourge of God", sweeps onto the Italian peninsula, defeating all of the armies of Rome, until he and his men reach the gates of the city itself.
Expensive and well acted tale of Attila the Hun (Anthony Quinn, suitably barbaric and demented) and his romance with Honoria (Sophia Loren, pre-Hollywood, glamorous and aloof), sister of Roman Emperor Valentiniano Caesar (Claude Laydu, playing the emperor as mad spoiled child card). A little slow to start, but it eventually pulls you in if you persevere, and the sets and costumes are impressive. In addition to the leads, acting honours are also due to Irene Papas as the wronged woman in Attila’s life, a young Ettore Manni as Attila’s brother, and Colette Regis as Sophia’s mother. Director Pietro Francisci went on to direct the film that started the peplum explosion, Hercules, two years later.
29. The Avenger (1962)
95 min | Adventure, Drama
Aeneas leads escapees from the Trojan war to new land in Italy, and must deal with new threats to his people.
Steve Reeves’ post Hercules pictures tended to take themselves a little too seriously, and this pseudo-historical effort set in the years following the Trojan war stretches a little intrigue a long way. It was sold as a sequel to the previous years superior ‘The Trojan Horse’, and for anyone who was not aware of this Reeves suffers from hallucinations showing flashbacks. As always it’s the baddies who steal the picture, in this instance Gianni Garko and Lulla Selli as the evil Queen. Then there’s Liana Orfei, who has little to do and struts about in a leather mini-skirt, looking like she belongs in some other film altogether, ideally one set in the swinging sixties. Impressive battle scenes though.
Boyd’s Review: One of Steve Reeves non-Hercules films and he is completely underused. Reeves is best with plenty of action scenes to show off in, and this doesn’t deliver. Instead it is more like a bad piece of talky Shakespearean drama about the Trojans after the battle of Troy looking for a land to settle down in and getting involved in various double dealing with the Etruscans. A good peplum cast can’t save a blandly written and directed story, and its nothing special visually, although the print I saw was very faded and 16.9 instead of scope. This is really only one for real peplum fans … or Steve Reeves freaks ; )
30. Avenger of the Seven Seas (1962)
90 min | Action, Adventure, Crime
It's 1790 and British Naval Commander Redway is driven by greed for money and will stop at nothing to get it. His second in command, David Robinson, questions his allegiance when Redway ... See full summary »
AVENGER OF THE SEVEN SEAS
Rollicking pirate adventure on the high seas with Richard Harrison on top physical and acting form. Unusually violent for the time it was made, it features a novel angle where the pirates are the good guys and the British navy the baddies. David Robinson (Harrison) is on the warpath after crooked British naval Captain Redway (Roldano Lupi), his former commander and the man responsible for the downfall of his family. To achieve his goal he teams up with jolly pirate Van Artz (Walter Barnes). Michele Mercier, making one of her three Italian peplum appearances here playing the role of Jennifer, Van Art’s daughter and David’s love interest, went on to become a major European star with the “Angelique” series a few years later. You also have some of the most unconvincing blackface this side of Al Jolson courtesy of “mulata” Marisa Belli, not the most attractive of women in the first place, and boot-polished up she just looks strange. Things briefly take a turn for the very odd towards the end when Jennifer is sold to some natives who have a man-eating plant to placate and David has to come to save her – this sequence is so bizarre, even filmed with different colour filters, that it looks like it belongs in another film altogether. It’s all good uninvolving Saturday matinee style fun.
Boyd’s Review: Not a sword and sandal film, more of a skull and crossbones movie. Richard Harrison is David Robinson, not a bodybuilder, but well fit and horny none the less. Starts off as an officer on a British ship that is sent to oversee the ex-crim inhabitants of some Aussie seaside place called Freetown, however his dad is one of the head honchos there and his brother, Gary, hangs out there too, so there is a bit of a family reunion. Before long the captain of the British ship shows his true colours and turns out to be a right swine, causing Richard/David to indulge in a quick swapping of sides and ending up being chained to the rocks in the sea when he fails to stop the captain from seriously maltreating the citizens and stealing all their wealth - chests of pearls which they dive for in the shark infested seas off Freetown. He is saved from a watery grave by pirates when they attack, and through a series of captures and escapes we go on rather a good ride. We are talking damn good visuals here, this is one good old pirate romp. Pirates, hunks, blacked up villainesses … and I think this may have been a slightly trimmed for kids version cos I’m sure I saw the end of what looked like a man eating plant scene : )) Well worth checking out.
31. The Avenger of Venice (1964)
91 min | Adventure
Rolando, who was close to marrying the daughter of the Doge, is condemned after a highly unfair judicial process and locked up in Venice. Digging a tunnel with the aid of his cellmate, Rolando succeeds to escape.
THE AVENGER OF VENICE
This tale of intrigue in Venice is full of scheming and backstabbing but a little short on swashbuckling action. It is principally of note today for marking the final film appearance of the queen of Italian peplums, Gianna Maria Canale, who, at 37, was admittedly getting on a bit for playing temptresses like the one she plays here, though one would imagine she was more affronted at being cast as a mother and being given very little to do despite her second billing. It was also the the last of the three peplums in which former Hollywood bad boy Brett Halsey starred, though he went on to a lengthy career in Spaghetti westerns and American TV. Falsely imprisoned after his father (Jean Murat), the Doge, is blinded and overthrown, Candiano (Halsey) teams up with his former rival Scalabrino (likeable fellow American Burt Nelson). The pair escape and set about gaining revenge. An enjoyable enough time filler, but hardly a classic.
32. The Avenger, Zorro (1969)
78 min | Drama, Romance, Western
THE AVENGER, ZORRO
To be reviewed
33. Bondage Gladiator Sexy (1961)
102 min | Action, Fantasy
The god Dionysus decides to pay a visit to the city of Thebes.
Someone had quite possibly had a little too much to drink when they came up with the incredibly daft plot for this one. There’s a drought in Thebes, so unfortunate virgin Manto (Alessandra Panaro) is to be sacrificed to appease the gods. Her best friend and queen-to-be Dirce (Finnish former ballerina Taina Elg, who had featured in The Prodigal six years earlier) strips to her skimpies and performs a dance for forbidden god Dionysus (Pierre Brice in a very unfortunate violet wig and salmon lipstick), who conveniently comes to Earth in human form and saves her, but when the youth of the city embark on drunken orgies and his bride-to-be becomes one of the bacchantes (aka Dionysus’ scantily-clad tom-tom playing maidens), the emperor is not a happy bunny. Everything that happens in the film takes place because a Sybil has prophesied it! Not as much muscle on show as your average peplum, but an abundance of exotic dance routines almost compensates.
Boyd’s Review: Warning to those of a delicate nature … This film is plagued by random outbreaks of bad interpretive dancing and bongo playing … Also it was in Spanish and confused me completely … I think Dionysus comes down to earth … But I’m not sure why … And he chooses a very ostentatious purple wig to wear which is probably part of the reason he gets into a few little scrapes … Pierre Brice is particularly arrogant looking in this … But then I suppose a god might be … It is all much to stagy without being visually inventive … Even the acting comes over as if they are on the village stage … Who knows … Perhaps I just missed the importance of it all due to being a bit challenged in the language department … You’ll have to let me know, if you watch it : )
34. Balboa (1963)
96 min | Adventure, History
Film inspired on the life of Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
A predominantly Spanish historical co-production, apparently filmed on authentic locations in Panama, with genre regular Frank Latimore leading a Spanish supporting cast as explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, discoverer of the Pacific. It’s all rather earnest and as historically dubious as you would probably expect. It certainly helps that the Spaniards and natives are able to communicate in perfect English, but this is lacking in the energy which a more experienced Italian production team would have brought to the proceedings.
35. Barabbas (1961)
Not Rated | 137 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
Barabbas, the criminal that Pontius Pilate induced the populace to vote to set free, so that Christ could be crucified, is haunted by the image of Jesus for the rest of his life.
Hollywood financed, though Italian produced by Dino De Laurentis, this is a bigger-budgeted affair than your average Italian peplum and looks appropriately impressive. For those of you not of a religious disposition, Barabbas (Anthony Quinn) was the condemned man chosen for release by the crowd over the Jesus option, whose life subsequently is forever haunted by this event. Quinn turns in a powerful and moving performance, appearing in practically every frame. The arena battle between Quinn and peplum regular Jack Palance (as heathen gladiator Thorvald) is itrue classic, as is the destruction of the Sicilian sulphur mine. Silvana Mangano and Katy Jurado as the women in Barabbas’ early life also turn in strong support. British wrestler Joe Robinson (star of ’Taur The Mighty’) appears in a minor role as a trainer of gladiators alongside a number of lesser known peplum supporting players and a couple of future stars. This is slightly over-preachy in the religious department, as you would expect, as well as being rather long and a bit slow in parts, but it’s well written, more palatable than many similarly themed offerings and well worth a look.
Boyd’s Review: Now some of the sword and sandal pics are just much too full of religion and like everything else it touches it can spoil it, this is totally based on that old peasant belief nonsense but it does have quite a bit going for it nonetheless. Anthony Quinn is Barabbas and gets off the death sentence whilst the Jesus guy gets it. Silvana Mangano is his girl and looks amazing, but goes and gets stoned to death pretty early on. Barabbas ends up in the sulphur mines for years and only gets out due to a rather spectacular earthquake. From there he gets sent back to Rome and gets trained up as a gladiator, and ends up topping a completely barking Jack Palance. After which he is made a free man, but then gets arrested during the burning of Rome and the poor bugger ends up on a cross anyway. A rather good comment on Christianity, or indeed any other religion if you ask me. The Coliseum sequences are seriously impressive for the time, in fact the film is seriously good on the eye throughout...in fact the eclipse in the crucifixion scene in the beginning is the real thing and is amazingly eerily caught on 70mm. Not bad at all if you can ignore the religious aspect...oh and there is even a dwarf gladiator : ))
36. The Barbarians (1960)
90 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Revak is an Iberian prince from Penda, a small island where the Carthagian fleet ransacked and enslaved the surviving native men, including him. After an eventful passage aboard a galley, ... See full summary »
Quite possibly the only film ever to open with a prisoner being force-fed molten gold! Celtic prince Revak (Jack Palance) is taken prisoner by the invading Carthaginians, but instead of being treated with the Royal respect he is due, he is degraded and treated like a slave by Kainus (Guy Rolfe), captain of the fleet. Fortunately Princess Cherata (Milly Vitale) takes a fancy to him, but unfortunately this means he is to battle with more muscular champion gladiator Beliase. Revak wins of course, Her palace seems to be staffed entirely by foreign prisoners ripe for rebellion, and they choose Revak to be their leader, a job made all the easier when the Princess takes 15 minutes to fall in love with him. They don’t waste any time planning the rebellion for the following day, with only a slight hold-up while Revak falls for Roman slave Valeria (Deirdre Sullivan). The revolt is a roaring success, with Revak personally taking his revenge against Kainus, but sparing his sister, Cherata. He then sets sail for Rome with Valeria at his side and they all (presumably) live happily after. With a thin storyline stretched well beyond it’s limits, and poor performances all round, this one is strictly for die hards. Oddly for a film shot in Italy at this time the supporting cast are largely Americans.
Boyd’s Review: Jack Palance is the muscle in this one (!!!) He plays a Celtic prince (!!!) As you will already gather this one is not going for historical accuracy. There is a rather unpleasant scene at the beginning where a captive Celt is executed by drinking a goblet of molten gold, but from then on it settles down into pure lunacy, and all played in a very well spoken Theatre manner. It is just so bizarre it carries you through the simple plotline on pure nuttiness … As Palance and his sister are captured only to have her drown herself straight away as the Carthaginian captain tales a shine to her and decides he wants to shag her … One sister down, Palance gets vengeful … Made a slave in Carthage he catches the eye of the Queen (and rarely a plainer queen have I seen in a peplum) and it all hurtles towards what seems like a very hurried climax. Worth watching cos it’s mental : )
98 min | Adventure
The rightful heir to the throne of Babylon leads a slave revolt against an evil ruler.
Votes: 76 | Gross: $1.80M
BEAST OF BABYLON AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES
The entire cast have a ball chewing up the scenery in this tale of slavery and cruelty in Babylon, all that’s missing is Livio Lorenzon. When what appears to be a flaming flying saucer explodes in the sky, the Babylonians are naturally panic stricken, and evil King Balthazar (Piero Lulli-in an excellent portrayal of pure evil), quite understandably and on the advice of Priestess Ura (Moira Orfei), orders that some big-haired women be rounded up from the local quarry to be sacrificed to appease the gods. Fortunately for Tamira (Genevieve Grad), exiled Prince Nipur (Gordon Scott-who appears to have had a shaving accident as half his beard is missing) just happens to be passing, and comes to her rescue. Scott winds up with the throne and the girl, as if you expected anything else. Strangely, given that this was titled “Goliath” in several territories, said hero is nowhere to be seen. The campy dialogue and flamboyant costumes make this a must-see.
Boyd’s Review: Though I take issue that a woman would wear a white evening dress while imprisoned and being made to work in a quarry, I actually think this is a good peplum and think these little details just add to the enjoyment ; ) Mind you I did manage to find a wide screen Italian version of this with English subs (excuse me, who found it?.....Nick), which always makes such a difference to all these films. Gordon Scott is Nipur, the exiled son of the deposed ruler of Babylon, who returns to the city to avenge the overthrow of his father. The new leaders seem to have a nasty habit of hurling fair maidens into a fiery pit as a sacrifice to Ishtar, which Gordon thinks, is in bad taste. Moira Orfei is at her evil queen best...and there’s plenty of virgin burning and whippings on crosses on the walls of Babylon to keep everybody happy...great fun for all the family : )
38. Beauty and the Devil (1950)
Approved | 95 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
The Faust story retold, with an aged alchemist accepting the gift of renewed youth from the devilish Mephistopheles.
BEAUTY AND THE DEVIL
To be reviewed
39. Behind the Mask of Zorro (1965)
106 min | Western
BEHIND THE MASK OF ZORRO
To be reviewed
40. Ben-Hur (1959)
G | 212 min | Adventure, Drama, History
When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.
Votes: 180,623 | Gross: $74.70M
Not really a true Italian peplum, since, while it was produced entirely in Italy and utilised an Italian crew and supporting cast, the production was entirely American funded-from profits MGM had made in Italy and which the country would only release for productions filmed there. Arse-numbingly epic in length and scope, purposely to provide an alternative for audiences to the threat of television in the fifties, this was a remake of a 1925 production involving a fictional character, Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), who interacts with various historical and biblical characters. Visually and technically amazing, MGM hedged their bets by casting leads who had already been tried and tested in the genre, Heston (The Ten Commandments) and Jack Hawkins (Land Of The Pharaohs), while Haya Harareet and Stephen Boyd would go on to appear in several genuine Italian peplums in the Sixties. What made the film so successful at the time of it’s production (it amazingly won 11 Oscars, including best picture, actor and director) are what tend to work against it today, the length, and the serious religious tone, and while I realise I’ll have plenty who disagree with me here, despite it’s great technical achievements, as a viewing experience this film is basically a bore with odd flashes of genius (the chariot race).
41. Bertoldo, Bertoldino e Cacasenno (1954)
42. The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966)
Unrated | 174 min | Drama
Extravagant production of the first part of the book of Genesis. Covers Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood and Abraham and Isaac.
Votes: 3,794 | Gross: $34.90M
Most of the stories dealt with here had already featured in their own individual films, but it fell to producer Dino De Laurentis to bring them all together in one big mess, aided and abetted by John Huston, multi-tasking as director, narrator as the voice of God and actor playing Noah. The first half hour is exceedingly dull, with the non-scientific creation of the planet in seven days, followed by Adam (Michael Parks) and Eve (Ulla Bergryd), and only begs the question of why does the tree bearing forbidden fruit make a noise like a triffid? The sins of their offspring are then quickly passed over in the rush to get to the next big set piece, the building and filling of Noah’s Ark, which is admittedly pretty impressive (and overlong at 40 mins), though you can’t help but giggle when Noah repeatedly calls out to “Ham”! Following a welcome intermission, we quickly pass by nelly Nimrod (Stephen Boyd) and a lot of begatting to get us to the lengthy final section on Abraham (George C. Scott-in an early tryout for his Beauty and the Beast make-up), via an all too brief respite from the tediousness as some genuine peplum stars (Gabriele Ferzetti, Eleonora Rossi Drago, Maria Grazia Spina) whisk us through the tale of Lot and his family in Sodom and Gomorrah. It should be noted by filmmakers that adding “eth” to the end of words does not maketh them authentically historical. The only real achievement here is as an exposé of what a lot of nonsensical twaddle the source material really is, but even so the good book is still more entertaining than this film.
43. The Black Archer (1959)
75 min | Adventure, Drama
A mysterious archer who dresses in black is out for revenge against the bandits who killed his father.
THE BLACK ARCHER
Spirited vehicle for Gerard Landry, star of many an early peplum period romp before the musclemen took over in the sixties and he was relegated to supporting roles. As usual it is the villains who steal the piece, in this case Livio Lorenzon (overacting valiantly as a sadistic vengeful cripple nicknamed ‘the devil’s hoof print’!), Erno Crisa (as his dandy brother) and Carla Strober (as Landry’s spurned love, and very handy with a whip on her female prisoners). The story is the standard one of good and evil forces battling for control of some throne or other, with no prizes for guessing who wins. With pacing that never slows and acting that is constantly engaging this is a little gem that deserves rescuing from obscurity.
44. Il capitano nero (1951)
92 min | Adventure, Drama, History
45. The Black Devil (1957)
80 min | Adventure, Drama
Duke Ubaldo of (fictitious) Roccamontana wants to overpower neighboring Italian states by concluding an alliance with the mighty Spaniards. The barons of his council are frightened or ... See full summary »
THE BLACK DEVIL
Pretty run of the mill masked bandit piece, with Gerard Landry, likeable as ever, doing the double service as nobleman Osvaldo de Marzi by day and as the rebel of the title by night. Andrea Aureli and Romanian import Nadia Gray are on duty as the villains, who, as always, get all the best scenes. There’s not much to it apart from lots of daring rescues through secret passages in castles, torture in dungeons and of course plenty of sword play. With nothing to set it apart from the pack it’s only really recommended for completists.
46. The Black Duke (1963)
Not Rated | 105 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Cesar Borgia--a cardinal in the Catholic church, a confidant of the Pope and a member of one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in 16th-century Italy--must deal with a host of ... See full summary »
THE BLACK DUKE
Dull take on the oft-filmed tale of the Borgia family scandals. Cameron Mitchell, wearing more eye shadow than a well-heeled drag queen, looks lost without the Viking regalia that was his peplum norm, while Maria Grazia Spina and Gloria Milland look decorative but lack the dramatic chops their roles demand. Mitchell apparently dubbed his own voice in the English language version, something very rare in peplums, even for Italian language dubs, but he really needn’t have bothered . The script drags, the tinkling music irritates, and the lack of action inspires yawns. Have a nap instead, or seek out the vastly superior Sins Of The Borgias.
Boyd's Review: Cameron Mitchell as Cesare Borgia … Playing the part as if possessed by the spirit of Orson Welles crossed with Shakespeare … And spouting lines like “ Get away from me you strumpet of death “ … This one is a real stinker unless you are pissed and with some mates and in the mood for a really bad movie … We all known the story of Cesare and Lucrezia so I won’t go into the plot … Which varies somewhat from history : )) … But there is a nice visual theme of carnations and red hoods … But there’s no getting away from the odour of ripe cheese with this one
47. The Black Invaders (1962)
89 min | Adventure
THE BLACK INVADERS
This fairly obscure entry has an Italian title which translates as “Deadly Hatred” and a German title of “The Knights Of The Grey Galley”, which, like the English title, bear little relevance to a plot involving a former governor of a Spanish colony turned pirate and his battle against the corrupt Spanish, French and British authorities. Aging Italian romantic star Amedeo Nazzari had a number of supporting roles in peplum pictures, but here shows he still had what it took in his only genre lead as pirate captain Ruiz. Familiar support comes from Renato Baldini as the crooked French governor of his former colony and Aldo Bufi Landi as a captain who joins forces with Ruiz. While hardly a forgotten classic, this is a well shot piratical adventure with a cohesive plot, enough swashbuckling action to keep genre fans satisfied, and even a couple of songs thrown in for good measure.
48. Blood and Defiance (1962)
92 min | Drama
BLOOD AND DEFIANCE
49. Black Magic (1949)
Passed | 105 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance
Hypnotist uses his powers for revenge against King Louis XV's court.
Orson Welles is clearly having a ball playing 18th century hypnotist and healer Count Cagliostro, hell bent on revenge on the man who hung his parents for witchcraft. The storyline, based on a novel by Dumas, has him involved in a plot to replace Marie Antoinette with a lookalike (both Nancy Guild), interweaving historical events with fiction. The film looks impressive for a forties black and white production, but it is Welles tour-de-force performance that lifts the production to another level and you can’t take your eyes off him whenever he’s on screen, almost like the audience too are his victims. It does admittedly get a bit hysterically ridiculous during the climatic courtroom scene, but otherwise this is a largely forgotten gem from the Welles catalogue that is overdue for a reappraisal.
50. The Black Mask (1952)
THE BLACK MASK
51. La tulipe noire (1964)
115 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
In 1789, when the Revolution went on, a bandit named "Black Tulip" held the surroundings of village Roussillon in fear. The poor people respected him as Robin Hood, who declare himself a ... See full summary »
Fast-paced light-hearted period romp with Alain Delon as the titular dashing, somewhat effeminate, Zorro-like highwayman and revolutionary, based on a novel by Alexander Dumas. Delon is perfectly cast in what is effectively a triple role, playing the Tulip in and out of disguise and also playing the character’s younger brother, and he seems to be having a ball. Virna Lisi and Dawn Addams both look ravishing as the romantic foils and match Delon’s energy. Highly enjoyable and so fast moving you would think the entire cast were on speed!
52. Blood on His Sword (1961)
100 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Charles le Temeraire asks in marriage Jeanne de Beauvais, daughter of King Louis XI, wishing to get her valuable lands in dowry. The King is wise to this, and since his daughter does not ... See full summary »
BLOOD ON HIS SWORD
Lively and colourful predominantly French co-production set during the reign of Louis XI (Jean-Louis Barrault). Rosanna Schiaffino is his rebellious daughter Jeanne, who has a forbidden thing for noble knight Robert de Neuville (Jean Marais, looking old enough to be her father-which he was-old enough that is). Kidnapping and intrigue ensue, and the wolves (well alsatians actually) promised in the original/alternative titles do make an impressive appearance. Excellent use is made of the attractive French locations. One of the most enjoyable and accessible of the French peplums.
53. Brennus, Enemy of Rome (1963)
TV-PG | 90 min | Adventure, Drama, History
This film features a colossal clash between a mass of invaders and the faithful Roman soldiers who must fight to defend the Roman Empire.
BRENNUS, ENEMY OF ROME
Gordon Mitchell is perfectly cast as little-known marauder Brennus (or Brenno, a Gallic leader who invaded Rome in 390 B.C.), a thoroughly nasty piece of moral-free barbarian work who strikes fear into the hearts of the Roman’s and takes Nissia (Ursula Davis), Priestess of Minerva, as his woman. The Roman’s fight back of course, led by exiled soldier Marco Furio Camillo (Massimo Serato) and Qunitus Fabius (ex-model Tony Kendall – real name Luciano Stella), but there is a lot of bloodshed and many imminently quotable lines before their eventual victory. Action packed and unusually violent with some good scenes of torture for those that like that sort of thing, this is highly recommended for fans of both action and camp, and by all accounts quite historically accurate for once too.
Boyd’s Review: As we all know by now I am no fan of Gordon Mitchell, but in this one he’s Brennus and a right bastard he is too...which kind of suits him and I actually enjoyed this little epic. The barbarian hordes are attacking Rome led by old Gordon, and man for 1963 when this was released this is fairly brutal. Having had a look at the BBFC’s website, it shows that it was shown in Britain but cut. All in all this is a well watchable hour and a half with secret passages in wells, girly whipping, good battle scenes and a decent cast. Made me feel quite Saturday morning : )
54. Caesar Against the Pirates (1962)
Not Rated | 93 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Julius Caesar flees Rome because of a conspiration against him and takes refuge by the king of Bitinia. He finds a woman there and while he escorts her to Rhodes their ship is attacked. ... See full summary »
CAESAR AGAINST THE PIRATES
Entertaining entry with a complex plot (for a peplum), impressive production values, incredibly short skirts, and a total disregard for historical accuracy. Julius Caesar (Gustavo Rojo) flees from Rome, which is ruled over by a vicious tyrant named Sulla - pronounced Cilla (Erno Crisa), accompanied only by his best friend Publio – pronounced Fulvio (Massimo Carocci), and an inept, effeminate manservant (Sergio Fantoni), leaving his lover Cornelia (Franca Parisi) behind. The threesome are saved from a raft in a storm by a ship owned King Nicodemus of Nicomedia (Mario Petri, in an all too short role and fabulous earrings), who throws a mean orgy complete with ballet and monkeys (as every good orgy should be). The King gives Caesar passage on a ship, where he runs into his cousin Quintilia (Susan Terry – real name Silvana Jachino), but all is not as it seems, since also on board is Plauzia - pronounced Claudia (Abbe Lane), promised bride of ruthless pirate Hamar (Gordon Mitchell, with long blonde hair and beard). Hamar captures the ship, but strikes a deal with Caesar at the request of Claudia, then throws a somewhat trashier orgy with go-go girls, but no monkeys. Claudia has a jolly catfight with pig-faced Edy, then foolishly admits to Hamar that she is in love with Caesar, who foolishly swears to kill Hamar. Too many plot strands to describe wind up with Caesar escaping, Hamar torturing Claudia, Claudia dying in Caesar’s arms, and Caesar finally killing Hamar and sailing off into the sunset.
Boyd’s Review: Great fun, even Gordon Mitchell is in it and quite bearable as a pirate leader, the baddie...this man can only play baddies. Caesar is overthrown by Cilla (don’t ask) and ends up captured by pirates, but eventually escapes and gets Rome back. Complete twaddle, but very entertaining. A couple of orgies, one with go-go girls, a big stabbing machine, good sea battles, and a particularly brutal torture scene for its day - branding with red hot pokers, and ending with the burning out of the captives eyes with a 2 pronged iron...very nasty. Lots of sizzling sounds and hideous screams as the camera pans past as the irons close in...I’d bloody scream too!
55. Caesar the Conqueror (1962)
103 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
Julius Caesar leads the Roman army to battle against rebels in Gaul.
Rather tiresome telling of the ageing Caesar’s battles with the Gauls and Britons, with only the laughably savage portrayal of the Gauls to provide some respite. Cameron Mitchell’s performance as Caesar is all very slow and serious and rather dull. His lethargic reading must have been infectious as the usually reliable likes of Ivica Pajer, Nerio Bernardi and even Raffaella Carra all underperform. Only Rik Battaglia, virtually unrecognisible as rebellious Gaul Vercingetorix, and Belgian actress Dominique Wilms, in her only peplum as Queen Astrid, instill any life into the proceedings. There are far too many lengthy scenes of conversations about love and power struggles which, let’s be honest, even if they are reality based, are not what we expect in a film about Caesar unless it’s Shakespeare. One thing that does stand out are the costumes, by Maria Luisa Panaro, who seems to have found 101 different things to do with strips of leather, studs and fur, turning out some quite memorable creations. The Gauls, of course (excepting Battaglia), are easily identifiable from their horsehair fright wigs. A large part of the blame for the film’s slow pacing must lie with director Boccia, whose 8 contributions to the peplum genre never rose above second rate, and here the scenes of torture, the battles and even the dancing girls are all lacklustre.
Boyd’s Review: This is one of those films that leaves me sort of speechless...which is rare...but this looks like a hundred different films spliced together, but all shot from the same script and all by different directors. Some bits look great, but as a whole is a total mess. Cameron Mitchell does fine and Rik Battaglia plays Vercingetorix!!! : ) Like I say I’m kind of speechless, but I can’t recommend this one apart from those heavily into abstraction.
56. Capitan Demonio (1950)
90 min | Adventure, History
57. Captain Falcon (1958)
85 min | Adventure
Baron Oddo de Serra who is cruel to his subjects, is neighbor of the Count Gualtiero of Roccalta. The servants of the baron cross the lands of Count to escape his abuses. Baron hatches a plot to assassinate the earl.
Lex Barker, the former Mr. Lana Turner and one time Tarzan, hit the jackpot when he landed in Italy following a Hollywood scandal just as peplums were taking off, and scored a big hit with this, his first peplum costumer. Barker plays Peter, a character that is a German Robin Hood in all but name, and is surprisingly camp in the role ponsing about in skimpy fur-fronted shorts, pink lace-up shirt and red cap (think Robin Hood’s gay cousin and you have the idea). The supporting players are equally camp, and the costumes are colourful, but do have something of a look like they were pieced together from remnants from a thrift shop. Massimo Serato and Livio Lorenzon are in their standard roles as the evildoers of the piece, though both seem to be coasting on autopilot here. Of the two unfamiliar leading ladies, Rosanna Rory did little else of note and comes across here as a bit of a beast and an unlikely love interest for Barker, while Anna-Maria Ferrero had already made her mark in ‘War And Peace’ (1956) and a number of other non-genre Italian pictures, but on this standing is merely satisfactory in a role which calls for someone a little more feisty. All in all passable light entertainment, but frankly one would have hoped for more from the film that launched Barker as a genre star.
58. Le capitaine Fracasse (1961)
108 min | Action, Adventure
The ruined Baron Philippe de Sigognac, meets one day a troupe of traveling actors. Attracted by Isabelle, and by the enthusiasm of his acting companions, he joins the troupe.
Jean Marais, France’s favourite swashbuckler, was 48 when he made this, so a little long in the tooth to still be playing dashing romantic heroes. The story is strictly standard for a Franco-Italian costumer, with Marais as a Baron who teams up, Scaramouche style, with an acting troupe, which brings him into conflict with a fairly unrecognisable Gerard Barray as the evil Duke de Vallombreuse when they both get a crush on Isabelle (Genevieve Grad). Only really recommendable to hardcore Marais fans.
59. L'uomo di Toledo (1965)
96 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
THE CAPTAIN FROM TOLEDO
This is a sort of lighthearted medieval whodunit, set against a background of Arab attacks against Spain, with Captain Miguel (unknown Canadian Stephen Forsyth in his only peplum lead) being given the task of discovering the murderer of the commander of the Spanish army from four noblemen who were present at the crime scene. Reliable peplum stalwarts Jose Calvo, Aldo Cecconi, Ivan Desny and Carl Mohner play the four suspects. This has a slightly more complex plot than your average peplum (more so if, like me, you don’t speak German, since that’s the only language in which it is currently available), and might have been better if more time had been spent on the investigation and less on the pretty irrelevant romance between Forsyth and Danish blonde Ann Smyrner (also in her only peplum lead). Forsyth, who went on to appear in a few spaghetti westerns before retiring is, on this showing, a likeable lead in the Giuliano Gemma mould, who carries the film well given his inexperience.
60. Il capitano di Venezia (1951)
THE CAPTAIN OF VENICE
61. Captain Phantom (1953)
Approved | 86 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
In the early 1800's the Spanish regiments are celebrating their victory over the French Legions of Bonaparte. In the midst of the celebration, Miguel, Duke of Canabil, is summoned to his ... See full summary »
62. Capitaine tempête (1961)
63. Il cardinale Lambertini (1954)
To be reviewed
64. Le dialogue des Carmélites (1960)
112 min | Drama, History
This is about the execution of 21 carmelite nuns in the latter stages of the terror during the French Revolution.
To be reviewed
65. Carthage in Flames (1960)
93 min | Drama, Action, Adventure
Historical drama depicting the last of the Punic Wars between the Roman Republic and Carthage.
CARTHAGE IN FLAMES
Visually sumptuous and colourful epic production, with stunning cinematography, costumes and sets (many of which end up, equally impressively and as promised, in flames), which is let down somewhat by lack-lustre performances, a meandering script and an un-necessary romantic sub-plot. The Carthegenians are divided in opinion whether to support or oppose the approaching Roman forces, but settle on the latter, which means war. Leading lady Anne Heywood in her only peplum, a former Miss Great Britain who would later appear controversially in Playboy and lesbian drama The Fox, is an unconventional choice and a little histrionic, but does surprisingly go topless. Spanish leading man Jose Suarez, also in his only peplum appearance, is memorably unmemorable. This one famously features scantily-clad human sacrifices to a pagan god. Not a classic and it does drag at times, but definitely worth a viewing for the visual treat that it is.
Boyd’s Review: No muscle men...but Anne Heywood gets her tits out...which must have been kind of a shock...or very pleasing...for an audience in 1960 : ) More of a love story in togas than anything else, but it looks great. Obviously it had a decent budget. It as a fabulous “about to incinerate girly” scene at the beginning, and has the appropriate fiery finale. In between that we get some real weirdness, soldiers in leopard skin!!! And a scene below decks in the galley where the drummer is keeping the oarsmen’s time with the drum and chanting Oooooooooooh Bugger Ooooooooo Bugger!!! Now let me explain that I was watching this in Italian, but I’m sure that must be wrong :)
66. Cartouche (1955)
Approved | 85 min | Adventure
Jacques de Maudy, the son of a sick nobleman, returns to France to try and clear his name from a framed-up crime. He avoids the traps sets for him and, with the aid of an actors' troupe, ... See full summary »
This was obviously produced (jointly by RKO) to cash in on the box office success of the similar sounding Scaramouche (1952), with which it also shares a very similar storyline. Second tier American star Richard Basehart plays Jacques de Maudy, a nobleman falsely accused of murdering a prince, who takes refuge with a troupe of travelling players, adopting the name Cartouche. Massimo Serato is the ruthless nephew with a dark secret seeking revenge for his uncle’s murder, with Akim Tamiroff as his sidekick, while British star Patricia Roc is the feisty love interest who comes to Cartouche’s aid. It benefits greatly from having been filmed in beautiful authentic palaces, but can’t escape from a storyline lacking in originality.
67. Cartouche (1962)
Not Rated | 114 min | Action, Comedy, Adventure
In the 18th century, Louis de Bourguignon is working with the Malichot's gang, but their ways are too 'unethical' for him. He creates his own band, acting under the name of Cartouche, ... See full summary »
French farce with Jean-Paul Belmondo as the title character, a Robin Hood-type thief in 18th century Paris. Fast-paced, attractive, colourful, and looks to be relatively big-budgetted, but unexceptional, with little to distinguish itself from many similar efforts. Belmondo obviously seems to like himself so much that he didn’t think it necessary that the audience should too. Based on a real character, though you’d never know it, with little relation to the 1955 film above of the same title.
68. The Case of Poisons (1955)
103 min | Crime, Drama, History
Madame de Montespan, the Maîtresse-en-titre of Louis XIV, has been in disgrace since the King set eyes on a younger beauty, Marie-Angélique Scorailles. Having had enough of the situation, ... See full summary »
THE CASE OF POISONS
To be reviewed
69. Castle of the Banned Lovers (1956)
93 min | Drama, History
CASTLE OF THE BANNED LOVERS
Rather daring (for it’s time) melodramatic tale of incest and murder in the 16th century. Francesco Cenci (Gino Cervi) has improper designs on his teenage daughter Beatrice (Mireille Granelli), which he makes quite blatantly obvious attempting to seduce her on several occasions. It is also implied that there is a similar relationship going on between her mother Lucrezia (Micheline Presle) and brother Giacomo (Anthony Steffan), who also both hate Francesco. Beatrice conspires, along with her mother, brother and lover Olimpio (Fausto Tozzi), to murder her father, only to wind up beheaded for refusing to name her accomplices. The melodrama is effectively played up to the max, helped by attractive photography and a rousing score by Franco Mannino. Unknown French actress Granelli is attractive and here turns in an impressive performance, but her career never really took off and by the mid-sixties she was to be found somewhere down the cast lists on several Ursus pictures before vanishing altogether. This is quite different in feel to Lucio Fulci’s 1969 remake, which placed the emphasis firmly on sex and torture at the expense of the drama. This lush production has been allowed to sink into obscurity, probably due to it’s lack of any international stars, and is deserving of a better fate and a proper restored DVD issue.
70. Caterina Sforza, la leonessa di Romagna (1959)
100 min | Drama, History
71. Catherine of Russia (1963)
105 min | Drama, History
Caterina finds out that her husband Peter Tzar of Russia, is plotting to kill her. She sets Count Orlov free from prison, Peter's sworn enemy, becomes empress of Russia and leads the ... See full summary »
CATHERINE OF RUSSIA
Gorgeous to look at, with high production values, sumptuous costumes and lavish sets. Unfortunately this has to compete with a script which skimps on many of the important background details to the story (which will be familiar to anyone who has seen the Marlene Dietrich classic ‘The Scarlet Empress’), and a central performance by a horribly miscast Hildegard Knef who lumbers across the screen like some monstrous drag queen, more likely to frighten any man into submission than to seduce him with her beauty as the role calls for. The supporting players are all satisfactory in their roles, with Tina Lattanzi standing out as the dying Tsarina. If you can overlook Knef’s appearance, which is admittedly asking a lot, then there is still plenty to enjoy here.
Boyd's Review: OK … So this is no Scarlet Empress … But “Ferox” Lenzi turns out a decent historical mini epic here … Greatly helped by the amazing Hildergard Knef … A true “Star” … With a voice that once heard is never forgotten … A truly memorable presence … She plays Catherine with incredible quiet confidence … I wouldn’t have been surprised if she was royalty … Knef was no classical beauty … But if you don’t know her work this will show her ability to raise something that could have been fairly mediocre and make it impossible to turn away whenever she is onscreen … Although she was German she spoke English through the shoot and the English dub definitely shows her voice off to the best effect … For me anyway … Giacomo Rossi Stewart and Sergio Fantoni support … But fade into the background whenever Knef is present … Well worth a watch … A good widesceen edition available on dvd from Germany … But unfortunately no English option : (
72. Cavalier in Devil's Castle (1959)
80 min | Adventure
THE CAVALIER IN THE DEVIL'S CASTLE
This standard costumer concerning a diabolically evil lord and the do-gooders hidden among his ranks is not without it’s merits. Massimo Serato has a ball chewing the scenery as an evil lord with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, ably assisted by Livio Lorenzon (of course) and Pierre Cressoy. It’s a pity that the only available print is a poor black and white one, since it gives the impression that it would be highly colourful if viewed as intended.
Boyd's Review: Could only find a B&W pan and scan version of this … And we all know that these films are basically to do with spectacle … So really it is only worth completists watching these films like this as its impossible to judge them apart from in their original form … However … I think we can safely say this one is not a classic : ) … In the medieval city of Valgrad the ruler has been captured and thrown in the dungeons by the wicked Massimo Serato who plans to take control by marrying the princess who returns to the city, and is lead at first to believe that her father has been captured and killed by a mysterious Masked goody who turns out to be the court jester who she’s known since childhood … And that’s about it really … One can guess from the beginning who’s who and what’s going to happen … And the finale plays out like a fairly well dressed school play … However … I did watch it all the way through without getting too bored so for completeist its worth it … But try and find it in colour at least : )
73. The Centurion (1961)
77 min | Drama
Protests break out in Corinth against Roman domination, injuring Caius Vinicius, a Roman centurion. He's rescued by Hebe -- daughter of the anti-Roman governor, Critolaus -- who's being ... See full summary »
Colourful tale of intrigue in Greece, as usual enlivened by the villains, in this case snake-loving John Drew Barrymore and scheming Gianna Maria Canale. Grecian Hebe (Genevieve Grad, more vivacious than her drippy role calls for) saves the life of Roman Caius Vinicius (Jacques Sernas), hides him in her house, and, naturally, falls in love with him. Her big mistake is in sharing her secret with Artemide (Canale), scheming wife of good Callicrates (Nando Tamberlani), who also falls for the soldier. Spurned Artemide shares her secret with vicious Daieus (Barrymore), who has a penchant for torturing people with his pet snakes. Daieus is the untrustworthy advisor to Hebe’s father Critolaus (Gianni Santuccio), sworn enemy the Romans. Daieus, also in love with Hebe, plots with Artemide to have Venetius captured, and spills the beans to Critolaus. Meanwhile a Roman ship captained by Metellus (Gordon Mitchell, in little more than a cameo) is on its way to Greece. Vinicius escapes, and reveals Artemide’s unfaithfulness to an unbelieving Callicrates, while Hebe gets into a vicious catfight with Artemide, and accidentally kills her. Vinicius rejoins the Romans, and attempts to lead a peaceful invasion, but Daieus has killed Callicrates, leaving Hebe as the only worthy Corinthian alive, so war is inevitable. Vinicius returns just in time to battle Daieus, and to rescue Hebe from his snakes, which instead treat Daieus to a fitting end. Campy performances all round, matched by the dubbing, and aided by colourful costumes and sets, show that Peyton Place had nothing on ancient Greece!
Boyd's Review: OK, so I watched this a few days ago and to be honest I can hardly remember anything about it. I remember Gianna Maria Canale looked fabulous, John Drew Barrymore hammed it up and annoyed me as usual (though he wasn’t as bad as he usually is), it looked good, was completely watchable, but had nothing really memorable in it : (( Only for a very wet afternoon obviously.
74. Young Rebel (1967)
M | 111 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
A highly fictionalized filming of the early life of Miguel de Cervantes, author of "Don Quixote".
To be reviewed
75. Challenge of the Gladiator (1965)
90 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Treacherous Roman senator Lucius Quintilius plans a secret journey into Thrace to recover a legendary treasure. He is accompanied by his daughter Livia posing as a Christian slave girl, his... See full summary »
CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR
Nice to see a peplum showing a little originality for once, albeit at the expense of historical accuracy. Rock Stevens, in excellent physical form, is Spartacus, hero of the Thracians and leader of their rebellion against the invading Romans. While he strikes an uneasy truce with Metellus (Piero Lulli), leader of the invading army, his plans are soon thwarted by the arrival of a treacherous party from Rome comprising senator Qunitilius (Massimo Serato), his daughter Livia (Gloria Milland, possibly a little old for the part), sidekick Commodio (Livio Lorenzon, excellent as always) and Terenzius (Walter Barnes), a gladiator-cum-Nero impersonator who takes his role a little too seriously. While gullible Spartacus is taken in by Livia’s posing as a Christian slave, Metellus is not so easily fooled by Terenzius. Consequently both end up as prisoners of Quintilius, though Spartacus makes a hasty escape. Livia falls for Spartacus and saves him in a battle against Terenzius. Spartacus then takes lead of both Thracian and Roman forces in fighting against the rebels. No prizes for guessing who wins and gets the girl.
Boyd’s Review: Rock Stevens...great legs...great tits...too much lipstick!!!...plays Spartacus...if you can describe it as playing Rock later went on to become Peter Lupus and to play Willy Armitage in Mission Impossible (the original TV show). He runs like one of Russ Meyer’s “Supervixens”, emotes in a way that would make Gordon Mitchell look Shakespearean...and finds troublesome women in bushes. Having said all that I have to admit it was quite fabulously bad and cheered up my Sunday afternoon with a few unintended laughs : )
76. Charge of the Black Lancers (1962)
97 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
CHARGE OF THE BLACK LANCERS
This one finds us in 13th century Poland ruled over by fictional King Stefano III (Nando Tamberlani). Rival brothers Andrea (Mel Ferrer – the good, bottle-blonde one) and Sergio (Jean Claudio – the unpleasant, dark one) are at constant odds for the leadership of the army and the hand of Stefano’s daughter Mascia (Leticia Roman). As if this weren’t enough they are also at war with the neighbouring Kirghiz, ruled over by nasty Queen Jassa (Yvonne Furneaux). Neither side are terribly civilised, taking it in turns to attack, kidnap, insult and torture each other at every opportunity. You’re obviously supposed to root for nominal Hollywood import and token good guy Ferrer, but you don’t really care what happens to him, it’s the rivalry between Claudio and Furneaux which is the meat and potatoes here – and you just know from the first time he slaps her that they are bound to wind up in an S&M affair. Roman, meanwhile, gets to spend most of the film tied up in the very deep Kirghiz dungeon. Also in the mix is Samal (Lorella De Luca), wanting revenge for the killing of her father (Arturo Dominici, excellent with very odd eye make-up and killed off way too early) by Sergio, and her love interest Gamul (Franco Silva). All this leads to the inevitable climatic battle between brothers, with no prizes for guessing who the victor is. This is about average for this sort of thing, not much muscle on show and a little too talky, but Furneaux keeps it interesting.
R | 93 min | Comedy, Adventure, Romance
This is an attractively shot colourful medieval romp, which would appear to have had a reasonable budget. Played for laughs, the story concerns a knight, Guerrando (Tony Curtis, in his only Itaian peplum), who protects the chastity of his new bride, Boccadoro (Monica Vitti), when he sets off on the crusades, with a secure chastity belt. Unsurprisingly the key gets lost and stolen and mayhem ensues. There are also likeable supporting turns from Ivo Garrani as the Duke whose orders Guerrando must follow at the drop of a hat, and Hugh Griffith as a Sheikh who kidnaps both Guerrando and Boccadoro for his own purposes. It would appear to be quite a humorous comedy, but since the only available DVD is in Italian language the subtleties of it were unfortunately lost on me, so my rating is giving it the benefit of the doubt, though a lot of the humour is of a visual nature. No full nudity, but some female bosoms on view, pointing the way the genre was heading fast at this point.
78. Clash of Steel (1962)
79 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
The adventures of ebullient handsome defender of justice Jean de Pardaillan in the Paris of 1588. The sprightly Gascon knight first saves a beauteous Bohemian girl, Violetta, from abduction... See full summary »
CLASH OF STEEL
Seemingly filmed in France (though I could find no documented evidence to corroborate this), and in French (the French language version available for review did not appear to be dubbed and it doesn’t seem to ), but featuring Italian peplum genre stars Kirk Morris and Gianna Maria Canale, so nevertheless warranting inclusion here. Story-wise I don’t really have a clue what was going on, French being the one language of which I admit to understanding not a word. There are a lot of people shouting at each other in period costume, Kirk wears a fetching leather waistcoat, there are a couple of duels, and seemingly a lot of intrigue, but within the first five minutes I had lost touch with who were the goodies and who were the baddies, so unless you can find a copy in a language you understand then I think this one is best avoided.
Boyd’s Review: Kirk Morris plays Samson (French accent)…a circus strongman…in Medieval France...and he seems to have an idiot sidekick with problem hair. Now I’ve only seen this in FRENCH which means that I didn’t really know what the hell was happening … I was quite impressed with Gianna Maria Canale’s French … her lip-syncing was excellent so I’m guessing she was fairly bilingual … Kirk tries his best too… But surprisingly neither of them are the main characters in this film … Which was quite a pity cos old Kirk looks damned hot with that longer hair : )) … Although it seems to be a light hearted slapstick drama … Its well shot, there’s good costumes and scenery and I wouldn’t mind seeing an OAR subbed version … The version I saw was a DVD copy of a slightly off track VHS that had been taped off-air from Radio- Canada Television !!! … Some of the plot seems to involve hidden gold in a mill… Leading to some very floury sword fighting and the baddy being tied to the blade of a windmill : ) … Fabulous scene as Violetta ( the female goody to Gianna’s usual evil queen ) is taken in a carriage , veiled in black, to be hung … Kirk does an hysterical topless stretch and self caress on waking up in the middle of an argument in a tavern : ) … And finale gives us Kirk Morris steering a boat down the river just like a gondolier… Which of course is what he was when he was discovered
79. Cleopatra's Daughter (1960)
109 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Cleopatra, after the civil war that followed the assassination of Caesar, met with Marc Antony in Assyria where they planned the defense of Egypt against the Romans. Before leaving, ... See full summary »
Another of Cleopatra’s historically forgotten offspring (see also “Son of Cleopatra”) is uncovered, here it’s Debra Paget as the improbably named Shila. One of the most unintentionally hilarious of peplums, in which most of the cast suffer several breakdowns and get buried alive. The dubbed dialogue is a laugh a minute, with performances and costumes to match. Egypt is being ruled over by the young Pharaoh Nemorat (Corrado Pani), under the careful guidance of his evil and ruthless mother Tegi (Yvette Lebon). When Tegi decides it is time for her son to marry, Shila is brought out of hiding, still treated like a prisoner, to take her rightful place on the throne. Shila finds that she has allies in the palace, not least Resi the physician (Ettore Manni), who soon becomes her secret lover. When Nemorat is murdered, Tegi blames Shila and condemns her to die in his tomb. Against the odds, with Resi’s help, Shila is rescued from the sealed tomb, and takes her place on the throne. This is one of those films where the scenes in the European and US prints run in different orders and with different footage, but still come out with much the same result.
Boyd’s Review: Debra Paget plays Cleopatra’s daughter Sheila!!! Captured in the beginning, and made to marry the rather cute, but somewhat barking boy king Nemorat...but instead falling in love with his doctor Ettore Manni Various high drama shenanigans ensue as the plot unfurls...double-crosses and assassinations abound until the last act which is a tense set piece. Two thirds of the way in we are introduced to a very early version of Lara Croft...a very unusual and off the wall female character for of movie of those times and completely matter of fact. The last half hour as Paget is buried alive and Manni and his team are racing against time to save her really works...and all the loose ends are tied up in the last couple of minutes. I wish this great little Egyptian Peplum was available in a nice crisp OAR copy ’cause it really is good fun and runs along at a great pace.
80. L'avventuriero della Tortuga (1965)
97 min | Adventure
(1964) Guy Madison, Nadia Gray, Rik Battaglia. In the New World, a rugged pirate leader and a corrupt governor vie for the affections of a beautiful Indian heiress. She falls in love with ... See full summary »
COLD STEEL FOR TORTUGA
Cheaply produced, but enthusiastic, period piratical peplum comedy. Guy Madison is the nominal star wearing the most unflattering star hairpiece since Bette Davis was the Virgin Queen, but is unconvincing as Alfonso di Montelimar, a governor on an island off the Spanish Main. Imported German leading lady Ingeborg Schöner - in her only peplum appearance - is equally at sea as a white-skinned red Indian princess, accompanied by Mino Doro looking odd in brown face as her silent Indian servant (or should that be native Tortugan?). The film belongs to third-billed Rik Battaglia as the dashing pirate captain Pedro Valverde, who steals every scene he is in and, with his piratical band of peplum stalwarts, lifts the film to another level. There’s a native wedding ceremony towards the end which is rather bizarre, you feel like you’ve just walked in onto a set from another movie altogether. It’s one of those piratical a yarns where they seem to spend most of the time on land and even when they do make it on board a ship they don’t actually go anywhere. It’s also one of those where you root for the pirates, despise the authorities and cheer for the hard-done-by natives who come to the rescue, all done with enough panache to keep it lively, but be wary that there’s not much there if you dig beneath the surface.
Boyd’s Review: Ok...another one that is difficult to find...had to watch this in Spanish. Looked good...some great plants in the outdoor shots...I’m sure those are the same Botanical Gardens they shot Zombie Holocaust in ten years later : ) All about pirates and conquistadors in the Spanish Main. There’s a Princess who I thought was Spanish, but then turns to out be Red Indian. To be honest I was completely lost regarding story line in this one...and that does tend to point to the fact that there probably wasn’t a great one...but certainly not a z-grade peplum.
81. Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1960)
Unrated | 84 min | Adventure, Fantasy
Two musclemen come up against a tribe of Amazon women.
COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN
Indescribably outrageous, this is a peplum gender-bender with Ed Fury and particularly Rod Taylor unbelievably (and, yes, purposely) camp. Glaucous (Fury) wins the (Gay) Games, then along with his mate Pirro (Taylor) he gets picked up by a couple of strange men in a bar who invite them along for a boat trip. Stranded on an island the boys find themselves captured by a band of rather masculine women (who are served on by extremely feminine men). Following the gold-painted dancing boys and the male shower scene, the women choose their men from the new arrivals—purely for mating purposes. Oh, did we mention the jazz soundtrack, talking parrot and sacred girdle? Quite what prompted Taylor, hot off his success in The Birds and The Time Machine, to appear in this is anyone’s guess, one would assume his agent got his marching orders shortly afterwards. You have two seriously scary women in Daniela Rocca and, particularly, Dorian Gray, while fun can be had spotting a number of rising starlets among the bevy of Amazon beauties. Then there’s Gianna Maria Canale as the love-starved and permanently tipsy Amazon Queen, clearly having a ball at being given the opportunity to play for laughs, and Adrianna Facchetti as her hilariously clutzy lady in waiting. This film really has to be seen to be believed, it’s a one of a kind bizarre classic.
Boyd’s Review: You want odd? Here it is! Many people see this film and believe it to be badly dubbed into English, well I’ve seen the original Italian and it’s not, this is one of the campest films made in the 60s, and all quite deliberate. Ed Fury, one of America’s first great naked beefcake stars, and Rod Taylor, straight off “The Time Machine”, play our 2 heroes, who bicker and bitch their way through the film like a pair of lovers. They end up with a shipload of men, stranded on an island where they are captured by amazons. Gianna Maria Canale is The Amazon Queen who has to stay celibate, much to her chagrin. She spends the whole film getting pissed with her handmaiden as soon as everyone’s back is turned, which explains said handmaiden’s habit of suddenly falling over things. The rest of the Amazons of course have to mate with the men. This probably has the most flagrantly demented dancing boys scene of peplum history, Gay is defiantly the word. The town is populated by flaming queens who look after the Amazons, but obviously aren’t much use in the mating department. This film is insane and, if you like peplums, well worth a watch to see everyone basically having a laugh...a real oddity.
82. Colossus and the Headhunters (1963)
79 min | Action, Adventure, Romance
Maciste and his people flee their volcano-ravaged island. They end up caught in between two warring tribes.
COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTERS
A promising volcanic opening degenerates into a standard tale of battling tribes, with a weak script and poor performances by Kirk Morris (as Maciste - there is no Colossus, even in the English version), and the largely unfamiliar supporting cast. The (remarkably clean) prehistoric floral print costume designs are notable, while the cinematography by Domenico Scala is strangely reminiscent of Japanese Godzilla flicks of the same era, but as a whole it’s hardly worth bothering with.
Boyd’s Review: OK, where do I start? A load of cavemen are running round in an earthquake. Maciste pops up in there somewhere, but it looks like it’s from another movie. They all run into a cave. The Neanderthals all fall down holes that open up in the floor or get killed by rocks dropping on their head. One or 2 people turn up in togas. Then Maciste escapes through the other end of the cave and finds a seagoing craft of interesting design on which he is joined by the 2 guys in togas and a load of 20 something’s in 60s beachwear !!! I had a bump of K...I could see where this was going. So...they eventually reach land and Maciste nips off and all the 60s beach people get captured by the baddies. Oh yes...I saw this once in a bad English pan and scan and realised it was demented, so this time I plumped for the widescreen edition...in Spanish...and NO, I don’t speak Spanish : ) Anyway...It looked to me like Canada they’d landed in!!! And there were even totem poles… The costumes weren’t giving anything away though, lets just say that this didn’t have a big budget...and the costumes were obviously rounded up from various different productions. Then they come across a castle and its obviously Italy...or maybe Germany!!! I’m totally geographically lost on this one. In the castle Maciste finds a blind man bricked up in a dungeon and rescues him. God knows what happens then for a while...the blind guy ends up with the head-hunters...and a whole new tribe turns up and meets Maciste. A really bad dancer has a much too long scene and I thought they were going to cut her head off, but they didn’t...Double bump : )) God this film is strange...and it isn’t just the drugs...we are in Canada...we are in Italy...and who are those 3 guys, all dolled up, down in dungeons of that castle ??? Don’t ask me… Well worth seeing if you can’t speak the language and you are on the right drugs.
83. Tharus figlio di Attila (1962)
90 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
King Bohlem, brother of the late Attila, reconquers former Hun territory. To secure this territory, he sends his son, Otto, and his nephew, Tharus, to forge an alliance with King Haadem, ... See full summary »
COLOSSUS AND THE HUNS
Campy Steve Reeves look-alike Tharus (Jerome Courtland) falls for drippy Princess Tamal (Lisa Gastoni), while King Livio Lorenzon and prince Mimmo Palmara (as Cudrum, but sounds like Gudrun), appear to be having an affair with each other, and Rik Van Nutter skulks around wearing too much eye liner. Unfortunately lots of fluffy shoulder pads do not make for a great film (well at least not in this case), and this picture has far too much talking, mainly bickering about who will marry Gastoni, and practically no action. Oh, and Courtland seems to enjoy getting whipped just a little more than he probably should! With zero budget and a script to match, this one is bottom of the peplum barrel.
Boyd’s Review: Some great location scenery at the beginning set in some white faced mountain cliff faces doesn’t last unfortunately...and Jerome Courtland only reminds me of the immortal Mexican actor Hugo Stiglitz, he of “Night of a Thousand Cats” and numerous other Rene Cardona “classics” : )) Mimmo Palmara is in baddy mode in this one...looks fabulous as usual, even with a bit of a weird 70’s porno moustache going on. In fact the old stalwarts of peplum Mimmo and Livio Lorenzon...along with some help from Rik Van Nutter (how could one not love that name) are the only thing that keeps this moving along...the rest of the cast seem to be in some other place far far away : ))
84. The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)
127 min | Adventure, Drama, History
While on holiday in Rhodes, Athenian war hero Darios becomes involved in two different plots to overthrow the tyrannical king, one from Rhodian patriots and the other from sinister Phoenician agents.
THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES
Classic peplum on a grand scale, with all the requisite ingredients in place, and the spectacle one would expect from Sergio Leone, even if Hollywood export Rory Calhoun (a last minute replacement for John Derek) does lack the requisite muscles for a peplum lead. The fairly complex storyline is pretty much totally fictional, but none the worse for that, with Athenian soldier Dario (Calhoun) becoming involved with freedom fighters (including Georges Marchal and Mimmo Palmara) in plots to overthrow the corrupt King Serse of Rhodes (Roberto Camardiel), told against the background of the building and eventual destruction of the statue of the title. Visually stunning, epic in length (by Italian peplum standards), well acted, well directed, extremely violent (particularly in the restored versions available on DVD), this one deserves a place on anyone’s top 10 peplums list. The belated US DVD release includes a very informative commentary.
Boyd’s Review: This is one seriously good film…Sergio Leone directs one of the most amazing epic spectacles. Rory Calhoun leads an all star peplum cast as Darios…he is visiting Rhodes just as they are inaugurating the building of the gigantic statue that straddles the two piers of the harbour where he eventually finds out the corruption involved in Rhodes government and joins the goodies in bringing down both the government and the Colossus itself. This was all long before CGI and some of the visuals in this are just amazing for their time. Today it is available with some of the footage that was edited from the original release replaced…you can see why it was taken out…even today the torture chamber scene wouldn’t play at all well on a Sunday afternoon on the BBC and there are some pretty unpleasant deaths later on in an earthquake. The whole thing is just epic film making on a grand scale...a must see peplum
85. Colossus of the Arena (1962)
Not Rated | 98 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A powerful man posing as a gladiator in Rome's fourth century discovers a plan to put the beautiful Queen in prison, which he thwarts by exposing a sinister duke as a traitor.
COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA
Following a thrilling opening sequence in the arena, seven champion gladiators and a monkey (including Dan Vadis, Alfio Caltabiano, Calisto Calisti and Harold Bradley), are hired for a mysterious purpose. When the unruly gang cause a riot in an inn, local do-gooder Maciste (Mark Forest, with serious bad hair problems and wearing lime green) is called upon to come to the aid of the people, but instead suffers humiliation when he takes on the gladiators in the ring. It is eventually revealed that the seven have been hired to help de-throne just, but dull, Queen Thalima (Scilla Gabel). Maciste, of course, finally manages to muster his strength, and defeats the villains one by one. Played mostly for laughs, and with plenty of beefcake on show and gladiatorial action, this is mildly entertaining if you can tolerate whining aged midgets, upstart chimps and effeminate black men in drag!
Boyd’s Review: Mark Forest...and Dan Vadis...OK, I’m a happy man! Vadis was sex on legs...I was quite upset when I heard that in 1987 he’d driven into the desert and died in his car from an accidental heroin/morphine overdose...I can’t find out any more so far, whether he was ill and doing the sensible thing, or whether it was recreational...but whichever...it’s a shame. I’m glad to say, as of writing this that Mr. Forrest (more sex on legs) is still with us and a vocal coach in California. Along with those two we have several other slices of beefcake...an annoying bloody monkey...and a slave that ends up in drag in the later part of the film for no apparent reason. A decent little peplum that veers from slapstick to serious with little concern for flow : ))
86. The Conqueror of Atlantis (1965)
93 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS
This starts out as a standard fast-paced but confusing desert-set peplum, where Heracles (Kirk Morris) washes up on the beach and is rescued by mysterious Princess Virna (Luciana Gilli), then loses her and teams up with Arab Prince Karr (Andrea Scotti) to investigate some strange happenings. Half an hour in, after Virna gets kidnapped, this takes a turn for the bizarre (and therefore better) when Heracles and Karr enter a tomb and miraculously find themselves in the lost city of Atlantis, ruled over by the evil Queen Ming (excellent Helene Chanel, costumed like a Christmas decoration) and mad scientist Ramir (Piero Lulli, with long blue beard and silver mohican), who has a penchant for creating gold-painted muscle men with unfeasibly large packets then dressing them in blue leotards. The costume and set designers for the Atlantis sequences had obviously taken a crash course in Flash Gordon then been allowed to run wild, which is a good thing, while the desert-set sequences make excellent use of the Egyptian desert locations, though really do need to be seen in letterbox format to appreciate this. This little-known late peplum entry is great fun, reminiscent of Giant Of Metropolis.
Boyd’s Review: Kirk Morris stars in what starts out as a Hercules in the desert film … But half way through takes a turn for the very weird as they get attacked by Golden Men in Blue Skin Tight Jump Suits with Black Thongs over the top !!! … They kidnap the usual Princess … And then Kirk and his mate Ramir track the kidnappers down and discover Atlantis in an old volcanic crater … Ruled over by Queen Ming ( !!! ) and her professor henchman who sports a silver Mohican and 18 inch green chin hair … This is the film that Giant of Metropolis should have been … 60s Sci-Fi lunacy … Fabulous sets … Mental storyline… Silver haired female gladiators in need of a shag … Pure madness … Worth seeing … But the American print is pretty ropey … The German DVD (though with no English track or subs) is scope and pristine … Great to watch
87. Conqueror of Maracaibo (1961)
101 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Alan Braves, captain of a pirate ship, is, by the treachery of a comrade, accused of a crime of which he is innocent.
THE CONQUEROR OF MARACAIBO
Standard fare of pirate gangs battling both each other and the authorities, mildly entertaining without being too involving, and notably lacking in male peplum star power. Minor German star Hans Von Borsody, in his only peplum, is an uncharismatic lead, not helped by peroxide highlights, as gallant pirate leader Alan Drake. Of the three of peplums leading female lights present here, only Brigitte Corey, in the role of a feisty pirate wench undeserving of her talents, manages to shine. Helga Liné and Jany Clair are wasted as window dressing filling the period costumes, while Salvatore Furnari fulfils his standard role as annoying dwarf and comic relief.
Boyd’s Review: Quite a good little pirate peplum this … Decent budget … Story that works … And well shot … Bit of a girly movie really … They all have the most interesting characters … We have Brigitte Corey as a very spoilt freed slave … Jany Clair as a goody for a change … And Helga Line with a rather juicy double role … Unfortunately we have that bloody dwarf again too … But he manages to fit in a bit better here instead of being a totally ridiculous sidekick to a bodybuilder … Fast paced and, as it is a distinctly rainy afternoon here at the moment, well worth seeing if you are into pirate movies
88. Fortune carrée (1955)
130 min | Adventure
CONQUEROR OF THE DESERT
To be reviewed
89. The Conqueror of the Orient (1960)
86 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Centuries ago in the Orient, the fiscal exactions on the people lead to a revolt against the usurper of the throne, and the empowerment of a new leader.
CONQUEROR OF THE ORIENT
The setting may be the Orient, but the story is your peplum standard of good commoner versus evil tyrant. Cruel ruler Dakar (Paul Muller) is presented a gift of captured Princess Fatima (Irene Tunc), and vows to make her his wife, which naturally upsets Dinadarte (Gianna Maria Canale-wasted in a role which could have made much more of her talents), the head of his harem. Fatima escapes and is rescued by fisherman Nadir (Rik Battaglia), and, as one would expect in such cases, she falls in love with him. Fatima is recaptured, and Nadir of course goes to her rescue, is captured himself, and escapes. Nadir learns that he is really the true heir to the throne that Dakar usurped from his father, and is presented with a sword by his trusted mentor Omar (Fosco Giachetti) that apparently makes him king. Mustering an army he marches on the palace, kills Dakar, and all live happily ever after. No surprises, but a passable time-filler, let down by some truly atrocious dubbing.
Boyd’s Review: OK...ummmm…cliché ridden...atrocious dubbing...cheap scenery...bad costumes...bad acting...bad print...bad transfer. Favourite scene...in the last 5 minutes...Paul Muller as the baddy is shown the goodies gathering to attack outside the gates of the city...their torches are obviously just a collection of matches : ) With everything being this bad how this film manages to be just dull is beyond me, but it just fails on all levels without entertaining. A sorry state...for peplum completists only.
90. Attack of the Normans (1962)
79 min | Adventure
CONQUEST OF THE NORMANS
This one deals with Britain at the time it was being settled by the Normans, which means there’s plenty of fighting, not just against the usurpers but also between the various British tribes. Cameron Mitchell, hair dyed black for a change, is Wilfred, the evil Duke of Saxony, who teams up with Queen Patricia (Franca Bettoia) to chase the English, lead by Ettore Manni as Olivier D’Anglon, from their lands, by falsely accusing D’Anglon and the Normans of teaming up to instigate attacks which he has in fact perpetrated himself. There’s so much plotting that it gets pretty confusing pretty quickly, not helped by some pretty bad dubbing and battles where it’s unclear who’s doing what to whom, and the “good” characters are just so annoying and dull that you don’t really care what happens to them.
Boyd’s Review: I’m not sure why but this film really annoyed me … All the double crossing is so bloody obvious that everyone is plain retarded not to understand what is going on around them … It all looks fine but the motivation of the characters is just unbelievable … The actors do what they can with this rubbish … Apart from Cameron Mitchell who seems to think its Shakespeare and is just awful …Franca Bettoia is very regal as the queen in as much as she’s vacuous and a waste of space … So anyway … I’m not sure if I was just in the wrong sort of mood for it or if this film is just bloody awful … My suggestion is to watch it in Italian or with the sound off … Cos it could be just the English dub that’s so stupid … But somehow I doubt it
91. Conspiracy of the Borgias (1959)
93 min | Drama
CONSPIRACY OF THE BORGIAS
92. The Conspiracy of Torture (1969)
R | 84 min | Biography, Drama
A young Italian noblewoman plots with her lover and her family to murder her abusive father leading to an uproar in the community and the Roman Catholic church set in 16th Century Italy.
THE CONSPIRACY OF TORTURE
Notorious horror director Lucio Fulci’s only foray into, or at least near, the peplum genre is unfortunately a rather dull affair. Too much talking and very slow pacing make it hard to follow, or even want to. On the plus side you have a healthy disdain for the Catholic Church, and handsome young Tomas Milian, plus some gratuituous nudity and torture because it’s 1969 and they could. Watch ‘Castle Of The Banned Lovers’ instead, Riccardo Freda’s superior 1956 adaptation of the same story.
93. Constantine and the Cross (1961)
Approved | 120 min | Adventure, Drama, History
Biopic of Constantine the Great, set between 293-312 AD, from his days as Tribune to his accession as Roman Emperor of Gaul under the tetrarchy system and ending with his battle against the usurper Roman Emperor Maxentius in Rome.
CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS
Christians are fed to the lions (hurrah!). Constantine (Cornel Wilde) comes to their rescue, and, unsurprisingly, no one is grateful. As overlong and tedious as you would expect from the tagline. Apparently this is more historically accurate than most Italian peplums, which does not, of course, mean more interesting.
Boyd’s Review: God this one is an epic … 120 minutes … And dripping in Christian schmaltz … It was really difficult to watch … Christine Kaufman suffers exquisitely throughout and I actually felt sorry for her, but she personifies the blind destructive masochism of religion perfectly and its enough to drive anyone sane into a home … This is actually pretty decent when it isn’t full of simpering peasant nonsense … But unfortunately there is far too much of it … I managed half an hour and had to stop … I admit it … But this sort of thing has the same effect on me as hard core porn has on uptight old ladies … I find it revolting
94. Il conte Aquila (1955)
95. Il conte di Matera (Il tiranno) (1958)
90 min | Adventure, Drama
96. The Contessa's Secret (1954)
89 min | Drama, History, Romance
97. Coriolano eroe senza patria (1964)
96 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Coriolanus leads the plebians in a revolt against Roman oppression.
CORIOLANUS, HERO WITHOUT A COUNTRY
Too much talking, the odd battle, pretty red skirts, and not much of anything else make this one of the dullest peplum entries. You would think that a “war” film where the soldiers spend more time arguing in the streets and the senate than they do on the battlefield would at least do so with the purpose of achieving historical accuracy, but even that is extremely dubious, and with people reeling off long lists of long names at the drop of a hat, all ending in “ius”, with scant explanation who they refer to, it’s all but impossible to care. You would also think that a film starring Gordon Scott would involve him removing his shirt at least once, but he doesn’t, and even Rosalba Neri is wasted as Scott’s stay-at-home wife. When you learn that the principle battle scene is “borrowed” from Hannibal, while the early contest of strength comes from The Trojan Horse, you have the measure that this was, at best, a botch job. Pretty impossible to follow or care what happens, this is one to avoid.
Boyd’s Review: Gordon Scott is Coriolanus … And this is really a very talky politically intrigue sort of a film … I watched it in German … And lets just say that the plot didn’t communicate itself visually … In fact the visuals in this one left me a bit lost … It was OAR and a good transfer … But all the action scenes look as if they are stolen from other movies … The colour balance is totally different and it stands out a mile … It looks to me that they produced a pretty pedestrian and dull talky movie and then someone decided to spice it up by inserting a bit of action stock footage … And there just isn’t anything special there visually to make it worthwhile … Gordon Scott is as horny as ever … But he doesn’t even get his tits out in this one … Completely forgettable apart from one scene … Gordon and Rosalba Neri’s son sleeps holding a sword !!!
98. La corona di fuoco (1961)
90 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
99. The Cossacks (1960)
114 min | Action, War, Adventure
This sumptuous production with lavish sets and costumes is a visual treat. Giamal (John Drew Barrymore), son of Cossack leader Shamil (Edmund Purdom), is enrolled at the Russian military academy, where he seems to spend more time at balls and in dress shops than actually training. This obviously becomes problematic when his father goes to war with Russia, forcing him to decide where his loyalties lie. To further complicate matters Giamal is romantically involved with Tatiana (Giorgia Moll), a General’s daughter, while he also has childhood sweetheart Alina (Maria Grazia Spina) waiting patiently back at home - for 12 years! While I love Barrymore’s usual peplum villains, it is quite refreshing and revealing to see him cast against type as a romantic lead. Strangely unavailable in an English language print, given that it was given a wide theatrical release in many English-speaking territories, this one really cries out for a remastered letterboxed print (in any language).
100. The Count of Monte Cristo (1954)
183 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Edmond Dantes is falsely accused by those jealous of his good fortune, and is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in the notorious island prison, Chateau d'If. While imprisoned, he ... See full summary »
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
To be reviewed