CONQUEROR OF MARACAIBO (1961)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Eugenio Martín and Stars: Hans von Borsody, Luisella Boni, Helga Liné. This is a amusing movie but a low budget. In the sets utilized by Anthony Mann for THE CID, Eugenio Martin converted Peñiscola to Maracaibo. Helga Line, is a pretty women pirate but masked always and the Spanish actor Carlos Casaravilla, Barta Barrie, José Maria Cafarell and Luis Sánchez are the other pirate characters. This movie is very entertaining, sympathetic and amusing. Martin may not have the budget from THE CID, but the action is very professional. The good pirate, here is a heroe and has a rousing battle with the evil pirates. Idealism rules here, not pretension.
HAWK OF THE CARRIBEAN (1961)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Johnny Desmond. Colorful 1960's Italian pirate adventure also titled CARIBBEAN HAWK. In the mid-1500s, a ship containing Spanish prisoners being sent to a Spanish penal colony in the Caribbean sinks at sea, but some of the prisoners manage to survive and make it to shore at a nearby island. They organize themselves under the leadership of Juan Olivares (Desmond), manage to take over a ship with some cargo that they barter for supplies, and eventually are asked to fight on behalf of the Spanish crown against the English. Yvonne Monlaur and Armando Francioli costar in this Spanish swashbuckler.
EXECUTIONER OF VENICE (1963)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Lex Barker, Guy Madison Alessanra Panaro, Mario Petri. It's Lex against Guy in this great epic set in the early 17th century. Lots of court intrigue and duplicity with Madison doing a fine job as an evil grand inquisitor. This is an entertaining swashbuckling, full of action, thrills ,romance , double-crosses and of course , a lot of fence . It is something quite diverse from the ordinary adventure scenery : hardly open sea , different boats , the gondolieri , the spectacular designs palaces and bridges . It's Lex Barker against Guy Madison and a strange pirate posing as an executioner well played by Mario Petri . In this set in the end of middle ages , next to the Italian Rennaisance period. Lavish production by Octavio Poggi with excellent gowns , evocative sets , right cinematography and powerful score . Lots of court intrigue , treason, twists and turns . The picture contains rousing action, intrigue , romantic adventure , mayhem and a fine cast doing a fine job . Sympathetic performances by main star cast and enjoyable secondary cast , as the marvelous main actors are completed by stellar cast full of classical and veteran players as Mario Petri as Boia Guarnieri , Alberto Farnese as Michele Arcà, Giulio Marchetti as Bartolo , Feodor Chaliapin Jr. as Doge Giovanni Bembo , Franco Fantasia as Pietro and Raf Baldassarre as Messere Grimani . Splendid color from 16mm by Sandro Mancori and imaginative as well as thrilling soundtrack by Carlo Rustichelli . Lush production design is well showed on the luxurious interiors and exteriors filmed on location in Venice.
SANDOKAN RETURNS AND THE TIGER LIVES (1977)-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Directed by Sergio Sollima and starring Kadir Bey, Philippe Leroy Massimo Foschi and Adolfo Celi. Following the death of Marianna, Sandokan has withdrawn to India and things on the island of Mompracen look bad. Frightened and starving, the inhabitants of the village hide themselves, while only the young and proud Jamilah escapes the vigilance of the tyrants in search of our hero. But on hearing that Sandokan is on his way, the inhabitants are encouraged and manage to overcome the evil Sultan and Sandokan’s eternal adversary.
MESSALINA IMPERIAL VENUS (1960)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Directed by: Vittorio Cottafavi, Stars: Belinda Lee, Spiros Focás, Carlo Giustini. In this opulent spectacle the corruption that was at the heart of the Roman Empire is embodied by the infamous empress Messalina, portrayed by Belinda Lee with surprising range from a vulnerable Vestal to the power mad, sexually insatiable, callous murderess she supposedly became. If anything, the film underplays her infamy, though she is certainly evil enough. A young Giuliano Gemma appears briefly as a killer who falls for the Empress, he will lose his head! (in the literal and figurative senses ).
FALL OF ROME (1968)-IN GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, UNCUT LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Robert Siodmak. : Laurence Harvey, Orson Welles, Sylva Koscina, Honor Blackman (nice topless scene), Lang Jeffries. Around 500 A.D., after Rome has fallen, a Roman politician, Cethegus, played by Laurence Harvey, tries to return Rome to greatness. He plays the Goth leaders, who really ruled Italy at this time, against each other. The surviving leader attacks Rome at which point Cethegus gets military help from the Emperor Justinian (Orson Wells), while he keeps his army in reserve to take on whoever is left. Events don't quite go as he planned. This is a complex, well plotted film. It is no Ben Hur, but the characters are engaging, the political intrigue is very well developed, the acting quite good (Laurence Harvey's final scene is great) and the battle scenes truly epic. In an unusual bit a casting, Michael Dunn plays Justinian's general Narses and, in great performance, steals almost every scene he is in. This is a quite good unjustly neglected epic well worth tracking down and seeing.
7 SWORDS OF VENGEANCE (1962)-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Don Carlos, Count of Bazan (Brett Halsey) is plagued by his cousin the Duke of Saavedra (Giulio Bosetti) who is conspiring against King Philip (Gabriele Antonini). Aided by a generous handful of bandits, Don Carlos foils the plot against the king and wins the love of Isabella (Béatrice Altariba). The same story of Freda's debut film "Don Caesar di Bazan", this version is a jewel of swashbuckling Italian style with all the best qualities of the genre: sumptuous sets, refined use of color, and hints of Gothic horror: a man is submerged into a pit full of piranhas, and a swordfight takes place underneath and through a set of giant guillotines, which drop their blades onto the fighters!
FIRE OVER ROME (1965)-BEAUTIFUL WIDE SCREEN PRINT. Marcus Valerius, a young consul, is assigned the mission to assist Menecrate, the leader of the Pretorian Guard, in the arrest and execution of as many Christians as possible. While raiding the Catacombs he has the surprise to find among the Christians the woman he loves, Giulia, who has been converted secretly to the banned religion. He helps her to escape and trouble soon follows. Stripped of his rank and arrested for defending the rebels he is condemned to fight as a gladiator... Perhaps because of the success of his earlier film REVOLT OF THE SLAVES, Lang Jeffries was cast again as a man fighting for the persecuted Christians against the Roman Empire in this film made two years later. While in the first film Jeffries was a slave, here he is a Roman military leader who loses his commission and is taken into custody for his defense of Christians who are tortured and persecuted by Nero and his henchmen. Jeffries is not featured particularly well in this film and he is not allowed to dub his own (very distinctive!) voice. His hairstyle also is not particularly flattering. Still, he plays the role convincingly and looks concerned, although he disappears for stretches of time throughout the film. Nero is once again depicted as an over-the-top yet effeminate dictator-clown. While he does not fiddle as Rome burns, he does pluck his lyre while Rome burns! I don't have a problem with the cheesy animation/model depiction of the fires--after all, this is a low budget film.
3 SWORDS FOR ROME (1964)-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Roberto Mauri, Stars: Roger Browne, Mimmo Palmara, Mario Novelli and Lisa Gastoni. During the reign of the emperor Elagabalus, the commander of the Roman legions in Asia, Marcus Gaius, is forced for economic reasons to dismiss the mercenaries. Three dismissed centurions, Fabius, Maximus, and Julius take refuge in the city of Messe, where Adakir is king and whose second wife Siride plans to occupy the throne in place of the legitimate heir, the princess Elena. After various adventures the three centurions end up in prison, but at the behest of Siride, the king grants them freedom and they become instructors to the palace guards. The Persian ruler Artaxerxes arrives and tries to place himself at the head of a revolt to dominate unchallenged. Siride and Atenofane, his counselor, with the complicity of Artaxerxes, seek to implement an evil plan for the conquest of power, but the three centurions attempt to foil their plan.
FALL OF ROME (1963)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Same title, different film than the Robert Siodomak film, this one was directed by Antonio Margheriti. Director: Antonio Margheriti, Stars: Carl Möhner, Loredana Nusciak, Ida Galli. In this epic costumer, a christianized Roman centurion fights back against those who would slaughter his fellow believers. His odyssey begins when Emperor Constantine dies and is replaced by a new Christian-hating Emperor. The centurion takes refuge in a barbarian camp. Later he returns to Rome as a gladiator and wins freedom for the Christians by beating three foes in the arena. Following a devastating earthquake, he is again sent to fight. The new emperor and most of Rome is destroyed.
MYSTERY OF THE BLACK JUNGLE (1968)-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Directors: Gian Paolo Callegari, Ralph Murphy, Stars: Guy Madison. This is the beautiful color uncut version remake of the 1954 version with Lex Barker, not the shitty B&W US release. The plot involves a great hunter falling in love with a girl who was kidnapped by members of the Thuggee cult in India. He tries to rescue her but is captured and then he makes a deal to win his freedom but in the process gets captured by British authorities who then use him as a guide since the girl is really the kidnapped daughter of a British officer. And if you think I'm giving too much away understand that that is about the first fifteen minutes of the film. It's best described as the sort of Euro-trash film that used to play late at night on the Late Late Show because no sane mind would run earlier than 2am. Worth a look for those who miss the Euro-trash of yesterday or for those who are curious about how movies can be cut up and repackaged.
79 AD (1962)-BEAUTIFUL WIDESCREEN PRINT. Director: Gianfranco Parolini, Stars: Susan Paget, Brad Harris, Mara Lane. Acceptable and middle-budgeted Peplum with the corpulent Brad Harris as the tribune Marco Tiberio. Another "adaptation" of Bulwer Lytton's famous novel,even if it takes place in Ercolano.Like Pompei,Ercolano was near the Vesuvius ,and the eruption really occurred in 79 AD . Harris plays a newcomer to Herculano and he helps the Christians led by the preacher Nemesio who are pursued by the evil ruler named Tilteo (Jacques Berthier) who governs the city. Marco is helped by a veteran soldier (Carlo Tamberlani) and a giant slave-gladiator named Samson . Tilteo wants to overthrow emperor Tito (Philippe Hersent) , and prepares an attack at an aquatic circus where a spectacular combat involving crocodiles is included . Meanwhile Marco saves the damsel in distress(Susan Paget)and they fall for each other.
SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON (1963)-BEAUTIFUL WIDESCREEN PRINT! Director: Primo Zeglio, Stars: Yvonne Furneaux, John Ericson, Renzo Ricci Semiramide" (Yvonne Furneaux) is a beautiful but evil woman who happens to be a member of the court "Minuret" (Renzo Ricci) who is the ruler of the Assyrian Empire. Because she longs to be the complete ruler herself she schemes with a general named "Onnos" (Germano Longo) against Minuret while at the same time using Minuret to keep Onnos in check as well. Her main weakness however is her love for a captured king of the Dardanians by the name of "Kir" (John Erickson) who has been reduced to slavery under Onnos. Now rather than risk spoiling this movie for those who haven't seen it I will just say that this was a satisfactory "sword and sandal" film for the most part. I especially liked the internal political drama created by both Semiramide and Onnos. Likewise, the presence of Yvonne Furneaux certainly didn't hurt the scenery either.
PIRATES OF THE COAST (1960)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Domenico Paolella, Stars: Lex Barker, Estella Blain, Livio Lorenzon. In this exciting, colourful Italian 1960 swashbuckling costume drama, Lex Barker plays Commander Luis Monterrey, a man who is seemingly successful and powerful (although an interesting early scene makes clear that although Monterrey is allowed to attend important social functions and mingle with the rich, he is NOT one of them, and is expected to "know his place" in society), representing Spain as a naval officer in the mid-1500s. You might be expecting a usual captain hero vs. bad pirates plot based on the first twenty minutes, but the film makes an interesting about-face, and then goes in a very different direction, which I won't give away. Barker handles the role convincingly, and is paired against, then with, pirate head Livio Lorenzon. One of Lorenzon's associates is played by Black American expatriate actor John Kitzmiller. The film could use some more swordplay, but overall, it's an exciting, well-played and well-photographed genre-film, for those who like Italian costume adventures. And the charismatic Lex Barker once again shows why he became such a popular actor in Europe in the late 50s and early 60s.
THE SECRET OF THE BLACK FALCON (1961)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Domenico Paolella Stars: Lex Barker, Livio Lorenzon, Nadia Marlowa. An important document in which both England and Spain are interested is robbed by pirates. The English send the Black Pirate to get the document and the Spanish one of their best officers, Captain Herrera. The men slowly become friends though finally they are forced to fight against each other.
ATTACK OF THE NORMANS (1962)-BEAUTIFUL WIDESCREEN PRINT. I Normanni (a.k.a Attack of the Normans; The Normans; and Conquest of the Normans) is a Franco-Italian saga that has become a virtually lost movie since its release in 1962. Done on a relatively low budget, but enlivened by a busy plot and decent scenes, it is a passable slice of historical hokum from director Giuseppe Vari and starring Cameron Mitchell. . After decades of violent raids, the Normans have finally agreed to be at peace with the English and have begun to settle on British soil. Nobleman Olivier D'Anglon (Ettore Manni) becomes a great friend of the Norman settlers and falls in love with Svetania (Genevieve Grad), one of their youngest, prettiest women. However, the jealous and cruel Duke of Saxony (Cameron Mitchell) wants to overthrow the English king, so he has his soldiers disguise themselves as Normans in an ambush on the king and plants various clues which lead people into suspecting that D'anglon masterminded the attack. D'Anglon escapes a hanging and sets out to prove that he is not a traitor, aided by his Norman friends.
HERO OF ROME (1964)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Giorgio Ferroni, Stars: Gordon Scott, Gabriella Pallotta, Massimo Serato. In ancient Rome, the people finally oust their despised king, Tarquinius, and declare the city a republic. Tarquinius makes an alliance with the Etruscan king, Porsenna, to take back power in Rome, but a Roman general, the heroic Mucius, sets out to stop him.
HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS (1963)-BEAUTIFUL WIDESCREEN PRINT. Director: Domenico Paolella, Stars: Mark Forest, José Greci, Maria Grazia Spina, Ken Clark. Maciste (Mark Forest) comes to the rescue of Princess Bianca who is threatened by the 3 sons of Genghis Khan. Maciste uses the opportunity that the 3 sons are rivals in a fight for leadership and becomes a slave for one of them to fight the others, see Bianca and plan her escape at a tournament. Little does he know that the princess trusts a traitor instead of him...
HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (1964)-WIDESCREEN PRINT. Director: Giacomo Gentilomo, Stars: Sergio Ciani, Jany Clair, Anna Maria Polani. In ancient Greece a race of evil aliens from the moon land on earth. For years they've terrorized the nearby city of Samar, demanding children for sacrifice. Now, the queen of Samar has made a pact with the moon men to conquer the world and become the most powerful woman alive. However, the residents of Samar, sick of all the chaos, cheer when the mighty Hercules shows up to put a stop to it all.
HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS (1964)-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Companion film to last updates HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS! Director: Domenico Paolella , Cast: Mark Forest, José Greci, Ken Clark. The legendary Genghis Khan leads his invading horde of Mongols into Poland to take control of the countryside and the capital of Krakow. Nothing seems to be able to stop the advancing army until one man steps into the fray to try to stop the menacing barbarians. That man is Hercules, the world's strongest man, who must rally the people to save the country and restore a long-lost princess to the throne of Poland.
KINDAR THE INVINCIBLE (1963)-WIDESCREEN PRINT. Director:Osvaldo Civirani, Mark Forest, Mimmo Palmara, Rosalba Neri. An evil desert bandit kidnaps the son of a sultan and raises him as his own. It turns out that the son has magic powers and is invincible. Years later, as a young man, he falls in love with a woman and is preparing to raid a village--when he finds out that the woman is actually his brother's fiance and the village belongs to his real father.
LEGIONS OF CLEOPATRA (1959)UNCUT WIDESCREEN PRINT WITH 10 EXTRA MINUTES OF FOOTAGE! SOME SCENES ENGLISH SUBBED. Linda Cristal's beguiling Cleopatra here is among the portrayals featuring her historically inaccurate double life as an exotic dancer! Regrettably, her relationship with Antony (a well-cast Georges Marchal) is underwritten – they barely share a scene throughout the proceedings! In fact, Ettore Manni is the nominal lead: he falls for Cleopatra when she's in her dancing-girl guise, but then renounces her when he misconstrues her actions to have been politically-motivated and not genuine! To counter this, Manni is involved with a slave girl whom he buys (along with her brother, hmmm) at a market place; the boy becomes devoted to him but perishes during a skirmish inside a cave. Both women also get to interact (chiefly so as to intercede for the hero), but Cleopatra then can do nothing to prevent the other woman from being tortured – via the intriguing ruse of premature burial! The film shares a lot of the cast and crew with The Warrior and the Slave Girl, including the dwarf.
MACISTE AVENGERS OF THE MAYANS (1965)-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS. The extremely obscure Kirk Morris vehicle MACISTE, AVENGER OF THE MAYANS (the English title although I've never managed to locate any English language print) is a very weird experience even as sword & sandal goes, since the film in fact consists mostly of footage from FIRE MONSTERS VS THE SON OF HERCULES (starring Reg Lewis) and COLOSSUS AGAINST THE HEADHUNTERS (starring Kirk Morris) with new linking material featuring Morris added. Poor Reg Lewis has been almost completely eliminated from the footage (but if you look closely it's still him who throws the spear at the water dragon). Cramming together the plots of two different films into one makes the scenery fairly crowded - after all FIRE MONSTERS introduced three different tribes - and now there's no less than five of them fighting each other in turns. Plus the director tosses in a cheesy cave-dwelling giant to tip the powerscale!