1950s-60s: Peplum Craze.by gig-panas | created - 13 May 2016 | updated - 4 months ago | Public
The peplum film (pepla plural), also known as sword-and-sandal, is a genre of largely Italian-made historical or Biblical epics (costume dramas) that dominated the Italian film industry from 1958 to 1965, eventually being replaced in 1965 by the Spaghetti Western.
The pepla attempted to emulate the big-budget Hollywood historical epics of the time, such as Spartacus, Samson and Delilah and The Ten Commandments.
The terms "peplum" (referring to the tunic-style Greek and Roman garment often worn by characters in the films) and "sword-and-sandal" were used in a condescending way by film critics. Italian director Vittorio Cottafavi called the genre "Neo-Mythology".
This list is mostly focusing on films about Ancient Rome, Egyptian and Greek mythology and some Biblical movies
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1. Samson and Delilah (1949)
Approved | 131 min | Adventure, Drama, History
When strongman Samson rejects the love of the beautiful Philistine woman Delilah, she seeks vengeance that brings horrible consequences they both regret.
Votes: 6,153 | Gross: $28.80M
© Paramount Pictures
2. Julius Caesar (1950)
Not Rated | 106 min | Drama, History
The growing ambition of Julius Caesar is a source of major concern to his close friend Brutus. Cassius persuades him to participate in his plot to assassinate Caesar but they have both sorely underestimated Mark Antony.
3. Sins of Pompeii (1950)
Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, History
In the town of Pompeii, 79 A.D., a few weeks before the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius, a Roman lady Hélène meets and falls in love with a young Greek man Lysias. He is betrothed to another ... See full summary »
4. The Affairs of Messalina (1951)
Not Rated | 116 min | Action, Drama, History
A story, set in Rome of 44 A.D., concerning the amorous and political intrigues of the evil Empress Messalina, the wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius, and her eventual hounding to death.
5. Quo Vadis (1951)
Not Rated | 171 min | Biography, Drama, History
Fierce Roman commander Marcus Vinicius becomes infatuated with beautiful Christian hostage Lygia and begins questioning the tyrannical leadership of the despot Emperor Nero.
Votes: 12,125 | Gross: $24.29M
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
8. Spartacus the Gladiator (1953)
Approved | 75 min | Adventure, History
74 B.C. Somewhere in the Roman Empire, Spartacus, a young officer, is condemned to be a slave because he hit a superior. Brought back to Roma in a gladiators' school, he escapes and stirs ... See full summary »
© Associati Produttori Indipendenti Film (API) Italy, France
9. The Robe (1953)
Unrated | 135 min | Drama, History
In the Roman province of Judea during the 1st century, Roman tribune Marcellus Gallio is ordered to crucify Jesus of Nazareth but is tormented by his guilty conscience afterwards.
Votes: 8,118 | Gross: $36.00M
10. Salome (1953)
Approved | 103 min | Drama, History
After her banishment from Rome, Jewish Princess Salome returns to her Roman-ruled native land of Galilee where prophet John the Baptist preaches against Salome's parents, King Herod and Queen Herodias.
11. Serpent of the Nile (1953)
Approved | 81 min | Adventure, Biography, History
In 44 BC, after the assassination of the leader of Rome Julius Caesar, Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and one of the highest ranking Roman generals and Caesar's possible successor Mark Anthony begin a tragic love affair.
13. Julius Caesar (1953)
Not Rated | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History
The growing ambition of Julius Caesar is a source of major concern to his close friend Brutus. Cassius persuades him to participate in his plot to assassinate Caesar, but they have both sorely underestimated Mark Antony.
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
14. Ulysses (1954)
Not Rated | 94 min | Adventure, Fantasy, History
A movie adaptation of Homer's second epic, that talks about Ulysses' efforts to return to his home after the end of ten years of war.
15. Theodora, Slave Empress (1954)
Approved | 88 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Teodora, a Roman courtesan and former slave girl, marries the Roman emperor Justinian and assumes the throne as Empress of Rome. But the divide between nobility and slave is too great. ... See full summary »
16. The Egyptian (1954)
Approved | 139 min | Biography, Drama, History
In ancient Egypt, a poor orphan becomes a genial physician and is eventually appointed at the Pharaoh's court where he witnesses palace intrigues and learns dangerous royal secrets.
17. Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)
Approved | 101 min | Action, Drama, History
In 1st century Rome, Christian slave Demetrius is sent to fight in the gladiatorial arena and Emperor Caligula seeks Jesus' robe for its supposedly magical powers.
Votes: 2,990 | Gross: $26.00M
18. Princess of the Nile (1954)
Approved | 71 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
In 1249, an Egyptian princess allies herself with the son of the Caliph of Baghdad in order to rid Egypt of its Bedouin invaders.
19. Valley of the Kings (1954)
Approved | 86 min | Adventure
In 1900, in Egypt, archaeologist Mark Brandon is asked by Ann Mercedes to find the tomb of Ra-Hotep but their quest is marred by intrigue, betrayal, murder and danger.
20. The Silver Chalice (1954)
Approved | 142 min | Drama, Romance
A Greek artisan is commissioned to cast the cup of Christ in silver, and sculpt around its rim, the faces of the disciples and Jesus. He travels to Jerusalem and eventually to Rome to ... See full summary »
21. Two Nights with Cleopatra (1954)
Not Rated | 78 min | Comedy
Sophia Loren plays a dual role, as both the sultry Queen of the Nile with a "man-a-night" appetite and a beautiful slave girl who takes her place and is wooed by a bodyguard who thinks she's the real monarch.
22. 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.
23. Sign of the Pagan (1954)
Approved | 92 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
With the Roman Empire divided, Attila the Hun hopes to conquer. In his way are a brave centurion, a beautiful princess...and Christianity.
24. Land of the Pharaohs (1955)
Approved | 106 min | Adventure, Drama, History
A captured architect designs an ingenious plan to ensure the impregnability of tomb of a self-absorbed Pharaoh, obsessed with the security of his next life.
Votes: 3,267 | Gross: $1.50M
27. Alexander the Great (1956)
Not Rated | 141 min | Biography, Drama, History
The life and military conquests of Alexander III of Macedon (July 20/21, 356 - June 10/11, 323 B.C.), commonly known as Alexander the Great.
28. Nero's Mistress (1956)
104 min | Comedy, History
Nero is on holiday at the seaside. Poppea, Seneca and many other guests are with him. Nero is preparing a great show where he will be the star. When Agrippina, his mother, arrives with her ... See full summary »
29. The Sword and the Cross (1956)
87 min | Drama
Tarsus, in the Roman province of Cilicia, AD 120. Two Carthaginian sisters, Lea and Esther, are bought as slave girls by Roman tribune Marcus Valerius, who gives them as a present to proud ... See full summary »
30. The Ten Commandments (1956)
G | 220 min | Adventure, Drama
The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.
Votes: 56,760 | Gross: $93.74M
34. The Warrior and the Slave Girl (1958)
88 min | Adventure
Marcus Numidius (Ettore Manni), a Roman tribune sent to Armenia to put down a gladiators' revolt, captures the rebels' popular leader, Aselepius (Georges Marchal). Princess Amira (Gianna ... See full summary »
35. 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 »
36. La spada e la croce (1958)
105 min | Drama
Set against the magnificent backdrop of classic Rome, "The Sword and the Cross" is the story of a notorious harlot who must choose between her lascivious lifestyle and the love and affection of her decent-minded brother.
38. The Last Days of Pompeii (1959)
Approved | 103 min | Action, Adventure, History
Mount Vesuvius looms ominously over the doomed city of Pompeii, a city in turmoil. Its citizens are being terrorized by a group of black-hooded thieves on the rampage, murdering entire ... See full summary »
39. Legions of the Nile (1959)
91 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Roman Emperor Octavian rules the empire from Rome, and his rival Marc Antony has taken Egyptian queen Cleopatra as his lover and seized the eastern empire, ruling it from Alexandria. ... See full summary »
40. Hannibal (1959)
103 min | Action, Adventure, Biography
During the Second Punic War in 218 BC, Carthaginian general Hannibal attacks the Roman Republic by crossing the Pyrenees and the Alps with his vast army.
43. Sheba and the Gladiator (1959)
98 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Zenobia, Queen of Palmira, revolts against Rome and defeats the Roman troops... But she makes a big mistake when she falls in love with enemy officer Marco Valerio.
44. Herod the Great (1959)
93 min | Biography, Drama, History
Herod, King of Judea, is made a prisoner by the Romans. Convinced the King is dead, his faithful lieutenant, Aaron, is nevertheless unable to keep his promise to kill the Queen if something untoward happened to the King. He leads the young woman out into the desert. Herod's pleas to Augustus are successful and he returns to his palace. His son, Antipater, informs Herod that Aaron has betrayed him.
45. Hercules Unchained (1959)
G | 105 min | Adventure, Fantasy
While negotiating peace between two brothers contesting the throne of Thebes, an amnesiac Hercules is seduced by the evil Queen Omphale.
Votes: 1,746 | Gross: $5.45M
46. 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: 200,034 | Gross: $74.70M
47. Solomon and Sheba (1959)
Not Rated | 141 min | Drama, History, Romance
After becoming king of ancient Israel, Solomon faces threats coming from his jealous dispossessed brother Adonijah, the Egyptian Pharaoh and the scheming Queen of Sheba.
Votes: 2,595 | Gross: $12.20M