I remember seeing clips from Cabiria
as a kid, in some silent movie clip show—I was terrifically impressed by the hulking slave Maciste
, played by Bartolomeo Pagano
, the closest thing I'd seen to a flesh-and-blood Jack Kirby
superhero. The fact that Pagano had been a longshoreman, acquiring his musculature through actual physical labour rather than gymnasium-based masturbatory activities made him all the more impressive. Somehow you can tell honest muscle from the inflatable Schwarzenegger kind.
was too popular a character for the screen to abandon, but Cabiria
was a very expensive historical epic with massive sets and many costumed extras. Since the logic back in 1914 /15 was that sequels would gross less than originals (which proved generally true until recent years), some way to reduce the below-the-line was needed.
Above: "Like so?"
So, in Maciste
(1915), Pagano plays himself, musclebound movie star, getting involved in a real-life crime caper