Italian Sword and Sandal Films-from Hercules to Zorro, Steve Reeves to Alain Delon and so much more…a book review & Bluray release
Italian Sword and Sandal Films-1908 to 1990, Roy Kinnard and Tony Crnkovich- both have collaborated previously on The Flash Gordon Serials and and Crnkovich is well known for his movie -related artwork, pg 256,fully illustrated, published February 2017. And now I invite you all to healthy helping of Italian cinema served over some paper mache boulders and tossed with a pair of crossed swords with a few 100 or more extras in togas sprinkled over the end of walking plank on the nearest pirate ship for good measure- that is the sword n sandal genre which includes the peplum movies. Muskets firing on all flanks- all hands on deck and ready the port side cannons as I bring her about Mr Kidd and stand by as we prepare to board her…By the gods !!!
How many times have we heard Hercules make that statement… especially in the original film by the same name starring a young body builder- Steve Reeves. Distributed 1958 in the us by Warner Brothers but produced by Frederico Teli with Cinematography by Mario Bava the film was a huge success pulling 4.7 million just in the US and back then that was a lot box-office caching.
Some one in Hollywood took notice-Joseph E. Levine wanted in and helped produce the sequel Hercules Unchained. It turned out to be the film that really put the Sword n Sandal craze into orbit lasting into the mid 60’s with the exception of some of the Zorro and Robin Hood films that cropped up in the mid 70’s. And as a result the majority of the peplum films all had English soundtracks for later US distribution whether it be for theatrical or Television broadcast or both …
Here comes the swoosh of a swift sword and the gallant steed of bandit hero…
we don’t stop here- the authors chose to broaden the horizon by incorporating swashbucklers, pirates, Zorro and don’t forget the vikings( many of which of these productions were blessed with Cameron Mitchell’s screen presence). And rightly so. It makes sense since they all take place within a certain period and all have an element of fantasy- almost another world or another plane of existence. You will find titles like The Son of Captain Blood which is a sequel to Captain Blood of Errol Flynn fame- actually stars Flynn’s son Sean how’s that for keeping it in the family along with Alain Delon as a most athletic masked hero in 1975’s Zorro
and is an excellent version even compared to Tyrone Powers portrayal right down to a rousing theme song. Roy and Tony have covered 100’s of films within the pages of this book offering extensive details covering cast, crew, production staff and info for the score plus comments regarding each movie.
Lots of trivia and information about the productions(running times for all versions both domestically for Italy and for any international and alternate titles) and the stars —
some sad as in the case for Hercules Unchained leading lady, Sylvia Lopez . Sylvia, who at the young age of 26, became afflicted with leukemia passing away shortly after filming completed.
Some are just plain fun- for instance when it came time to release Rome vs Rome stateside AIP who was really good at marketing movies thru exploitative methods changed the title to War of the Zombies making it perfect drive-in fare for one to bring their date to expecting thrills n chills instead guys dressed in togas n brandishing swords…your girlfriend may have gotten more of a treat than you did that particular night.. oh well better luck next time…
or as Starkist would say “Sorry Charlie”… so don’t just sit there get to your PC( does not stand for political correctness) or tablet(not the stone one) and not quill pen needed- it’s amazing what just your fingers can do these days and order one or all for your own personal reference library and most of all enjoy…I’ve got to go for now… man if those gladiators don’t get there 4 squares a day they become very disgruntled and try explaining to them why you were late…I don’t know which is worse- remember we do use real lions for gosh sakes ….until next time …
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Related material and links-
Now on Bluray HD from from Film Detective-
Special Edition-Hercules and the Captive Women-1963(Euro title- Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis
Starring Reg Park as a reluctant(he would rather be lounging at home-weary of adventure)crew member as he gets “drafted” in a search for a possible quest to stop a possible threat of attack from the sea…in one of his greatest undertakings Hercules and his friends end up in Atlantis. See a shape shifting creature…high court intrigue…unnatural forces…a massive storm at sea…an evil queen who has no problem sacrificing her own daughter(no love loss here)…who could ask for more. And all filmed in 70 mm.
It’s Reg Park in his debut as the mighty champion who hails from Mt Olympus. Co-Starring Fay Spain
Available via MVD & Amazon-
Hercules And The Captive Women (1963) (Blu-ray)
Release Date: 04/13/21Hercules saves a beautiful maiden from the hands of an evil creature and she takes him to her…
Retro Stud- By David Chapman published 2002
a book put out several years ago that collected and gave tribute not only to the Peplum(Sword and Sandal) genre but the art work and design that went in to the posters for all those funtastic Hercules and Gladiator films of the ‘60s.