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.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Colossus of Rhodes

Back in the heyday of new dvds, a fun collection were the 'Cult Camp Classics': Vol 4 was Historical Epics and featured those perennial camp favourites (but also great entertainment) LAND OF THE PHAROAHS and THE PRODIGAL, plus THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES from 1961, which I remembered enjoying as a kid. It had all the required elements: colour, spectacle, earthquakes and that giant colossus straddling Rhodes harbour .... it featured a past-it ageing American star: Rory Calhoun, in a selection of mini-togas and nice shoewear and capes, a young cutie (Angel Aranda) and of course a slinky lady - Lea Massari, the girl who vanished from that island in Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA and fetched up here. 
This one is notable now as the first feature by Sergio Leone, who does give it some imaginative touches. It is though almost as satisfying as ATLANTIS THE LOST CONTINENT, also '61, and Aldrich's sadistically camp SODOM AND GOMORRAH from 1962 (before he returned to America to tackle Blanche and Baby Jane Hudson....)
Seeing it again now its rather fun, and there are some fun comments on it, over at IMDB:
Sergio Leone's directorial debut is rife with scantily clad men whose rippling muscles and abs are fully exposed while they wrestle or undergo torture and bondage. The national pastime in Rhodes must have been doing crunches and lifting weights, because even the mature men have flat tight stomachs and bulging biceps. 
Meanwhile, the women, while lovely of face, remain chastely clothed and relegated to the sidelines. The homo-erotic visuals of this tale of ancient Rhodes call into question the film's intended audience. Were there enough closeted gays in the early 1960's to make a success of mediocre movies such as this? 
American actor, Rory Calhoun, a fading western hero who was obviously hired only for his name, wanders through the proceedings like a stranger in a strange land in more ways than one. Portraying the Greek Darios as an American on holiday, Calhoun remains nonplussed in the face of death, torture, and the lures of beautiful women. Decidedly less buff than his Italian counterparts, Calhoun nevertheless overwhelms men whose physical strength obviously exceeds that of his own lean build. Perhaps his attire gave him self-confidence. The stylish mini-togas with colorful scarves thrown over one shoulder and white, laced boots to the mid-calf make Calhoun resemble Captain Marvel more than an ancient warrior. Right: Calhoun with Leone. 
In the scenes between Calhoun and Lea Massari as Diala, there is little doubt that neither performer knows what the other is saying. Calhoun recites his lines in English while Massari recites hers in Italian. It's a genuinely spectacular affair offering pretty much everything you could want from a peplum – muscle men, corrupt rulers, rebels and conspiracies, torture in the dungeons and the arena, the spectacular destruction of a city in a natural disaster and imported American star Rory Calhoun imitating Victor Mature. Steve Reeves still ruled. Delirious or what!

No comments:

Post a Comment