Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Summer blasts: Pompeii & Atlantis

POMPEII, 2014. We like a good Pompeii film and there have been a few, I rather liked the Steve Reeves one from 1959 again recently, and an odd French one SINS OF POMPEII from 1951 (see Peplums label for reviews), and there was a rather good tv series circa 2010, though nothing could beat Robert Harris's novel "Pompeii" published in 2009. 

I don’t usually go for CGI spectacles, but this has everything a Peplum fan wants: its a vivid comic strip featuring gladiators and brutal action in the arena, romance, intrigue and villainy, plus the volcano finally going up in flames about the half-way point. Great tsunami too and the harbour looks good. Paul W.S. Anderson orchestrates it all, with Kit Harington leading the cast, Kiefer Sutherland is main villain. The plot of course is the usual mix of gladiators, slaves, noblewomen, and twisted, evil Romans. I have already seen it twice in as many days! QUO VADIS was also on again yesterday afternoon - how they spoil us.
Great fun too is the 1961 JOURNEY BENEATH THE DESERT or L'ATLANTIDE or ANTINEA, set in the mythical city of Atlantis, which it seems did not sink into the sea, but is actually under the sands of the Sahara! 
This dotty farrago by Edgar C Ulmer (replacing an ill Frank Borzage) concerts a helicopter crew of mining engneers whose machine crashes in a desert sandstorm and the crew wind up in the underground city of Atlantis, which is presided over by Queen Antinea. They get involved in a slave revolt as an atomic bomb will be tested nearby, destroying her kingdom, unless they can escape within 24 hours. 
The Queen though falls for one of our gallant crew, but she has a habit of killing her former lovers and encasing them in gold - she has a whole gallery full of them. Haya Harareet - so right in BEN-HUR - plays her like a burlesque queen, and is dressed accordingly, and of course she has a pet leopard on a chain. 
Jean-Louis Trintignant though confrms how remarkably handsome he was when he was young.
This is a ropey version of an earlier classic by G.W. Pabst, and the story also has echoes of Rider Haggard's SHE. There ws also a tacky '40s version SIREN OF ATLANTIS with Maria Montez, which I must look at sometime .... It is all quite amusing, a Trash Classic providing camp fun for rainy matinees ....  

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