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.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Peplum veterans

Let's praise some of our peplum/epic favourite actors, great dependables who always 'add value' and make their scenes come alive .... (I am only focusing on their peplum/costume roles).

Frank Thring (1926-1994): Australian Frank was deliciously evil with a streak of camp, particularly as Aella in THE VIKINGS chopping off Tony Curtis's hand and ending up in the wolf pit, Pontius Pilate in BEN HUR ("A long life young Arrius, and the good sense to live it"), Ad Kadir in EL CID (when the starving citizens of Valencia revolt he gets thrown off the city walls), and his Herod Antipas in KING OF KINGS.  His published biography should be quite interesting.

Sir Cedric Hardwicke (1983-1964): The distinguished thespian was Sethi the old Pharoah in Cecil's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, King Priam in HELEN OF TROY, the Judge in THE STORY OF MANKIND, Tiberius Caesar in SALOME, King Edward in RICHARD III, and the owner of the balloon in the amusing adventure FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON

Finlay Currie (1878-1968). 90 year old Finlay clocked up 145 credits, his busy career included lots of epics and costume dramas - in fact any epic had to include Finlay for extra gravitas: David in SOLOMON AND SHEBA, Balthasar in BEN HUR, Magwich in GREAT EXPECTATIONS, the traitor in DANGEROUS EXILE, Peter in QUO VADIS, Cedric in IVANHOE, the Mullah in ZARAK, in TEMPEST, Jacob in JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS, the pope in FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Titus in CLEOPATRA, a senator in THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. Right: Finlay with George and Yul in SOLOMON AND SHEBA.

Then, theres: Harry Andrews (1911-1989)  - prolific Harry did some great peplum roles too: I like his Baltor, advisor to Gina's Queen in SOLOMON AND SHEBA. He was in blackface too as Darius the deposed king of Persia in ALEXANDER THE GREAT, Peter in BARABBAS, and Hector in HELEN OF TROY, and in 55 DAYS IN PEKING, Lord Lucan in THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1968).. More on Harry at label. 

Stanley Baker (1928-1976). The very prolific Stanley also did sterling duty in peplums:  starting with Olivier's RICHARD III, Achilles in HELEN OF TROY, Attalus in ALEXANDER THE GREAT, and of course being very nasty in SODOM AND GOMORRAH. Ditto more on Stanley at label. 

We cannot forget George Sanders (1906-1972) who did a whole string of costumers and some epics among his 135 credits..... IVANHOE, Adonijah in SOLOMON AND SHEBA, Charles II in THE KING'S THIEF, hilarious in JUPITER'S DARLING, SON OF FURY, raising his goblet to toast Delilah as the temple falls around them in SAMSON & DELILAH, King Richard in RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS, the villain in MOONFLEET etc. 

Henry Daniell (1894-1963) too - sardonic Henry had some good peplum/costume moments in a long career: he is good in THE PRODIGAL 1955, and the Sheik in FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON, 1962 - and in the 1930s MARIE ANTOINETTE, THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH & ESSEX, Baron De Varville to Garbo's CAMILLE, Mr Brocklehurst in JANE EYRE THE SEA HAWKSIREN OF ATLANTIS, THE EGYPTIAN, etc.   
Then there's Vincent Price ... and of course Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Jack Palance have also done iconic work in peplums - not to mention Steve Reeves & Co ...
Peter Ustinov too for scene-stealing beyond the call of duty in QUO VADIS, THE EGYPTIAN, SPARTACUS, where he, Olivier and Laughton seemed to be out-acting each other ... 
and the recently departed Douglas Wilmer - see RIP below.

Plus French Jacques Sernas (1925-2015) who died last year. Paris in HELEN OF TROY (right) and Laertes in APHRODITE, GODDESS OF LOVE and in THE NIGHTS OF LUCREZIA BORGIA (both opposite Belinda Lee, below), IMDB lists a lot of his other peplums we do not know here. 

Queen of the peplums has to be our favourite, the tragic Belinda Lee (1935-1961). She also did MESSALINA, MARIE OF THE ISLES, JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS and CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS. Ditto, more on Belinda at label .... including her memorial in Rome. Then there's Scilla Gabel, Rossana Podesta (HELEN OF TROY herself), Anita Ekberg and ...


  1. This afternoon I tried to watch HEROD THE GREAT with the less than great Edmond Purdom. I got through the credit and about 15 seconds of the movie!!

  2. You should try Purdom' THE EGYPTIAN and THE PRODIGAL - two marvellous and delirious mini-epics with all the requisite 20th Century Fox and MGM trappings. THE EGYPTIAN in particular looks terrific in a Spanish dvd transfer, and you get Ustinov, Jean Simmons and Gene Tierney too !