Cult Camp Classics 4 - Historical Epics (The Colossus of Rhodes / Land of the Pharaohs / The Prodigal)
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Howard Hawks took time in between Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Rio Bravo to direct Land of the Pharoahs (1955), with a cast of thousands, led by the heaving bosoms of Joan Collins. No expense was spared, with nearly 10,000 extras "and 1600 camels in the production!" as the marketing materials of the time proclaim. William Faulkner co-wrote the screenplay, which features delicious turns of events like a lying, scheming so-and-so getting comeuppance by, yes, being sealed alive in a pyramid: "A structure to house one man--and the greatest treasure of all time."
And The Prodigal (1955), directed by Richard Thorpe, tells the ancient biblical tale of two toiling brothers, but ups the ante for the wandering son with a decidedly ungodly pagan temptress in the form of Lana Turner (it's a wonder he ever made it back to his father's farm!). Originally an MGM release, The Prodigal hearkens to the mid-'50s era of the great biblical epic (which many fans believe is due for a renaissance), though it takes extreme liberties with Jesus's parable. Then again, if Lana Turner's figure doesn't signify "debauchery" and "riotous living," what does?
The boxed set also includes some very instructional extras, like vintage interviews with Hawks and contemporary interviews with Peter Bogdanovich and film historians. Let the catapulting begin! --A.T. Hurley
- The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)
- Commentary by film historian Christopher Frayling
- Theatrical trailer
Top Customer Reviews
The first "The Colossus of Rhodes" was the first film that Sergio Leone took credit on as a director. Set during during the Hellenistic era before the rise of Rome, this film features cowboy b-movie star Rory Calhoun as a Greek(!) hero vacationing in Rhodes who gets pulled into an attempt to overthrow the Emperor. The centerpiece of this film a 180 foot high statue that stood astride the waterways of Rhodes and could be used as a weapon to defend the city by dumping hot molten lead on invaders or would be revolutionaries.
Featuring risable dialogue, great action sequences and impressive production design, this international production (featuring actors from Italy, Spain, America and France)features a number of stunning set pieces that hint at Leone's great Italian Westerns such as "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West". The film looks quite good with an excellent commentary track by Leone biographer and film historian Christopher Frayling who covers everything from the historical context of the film (the real statue of Rhodes was believed to be about 38 feet high and overlooked the city)and the original theatrical trailer. Frayling points out the good (Leone's stunning use of the camera), the bad (often the dialogue is quite ripe)and the ugly (the overwrought performances of some of the actors)but still finds merit in the film.Read more ›
The Colossus of Rhodes was directed by Sergio Leone, with impressive visuals and a huge cast of extras. The weakest (and most laughable) part of the film is Rory Calhoun's leading character, but the rest of the cast is fine - though the plot is overly-complex. Rory, a visiting hero from Athens, leads a slave revolt, amid treacherous plots to enslave peaceful Rhodes.
Land of the Pharaohs was produced and directed by Howard Hawks and written by no less than William Faulkner. The leads are played by Jack Hawkins and Joan Collins. Hawkins portrays a king obsessed with accumulating wealth for the afterlife, along with building a tomb to house himself and the gold. Collins plays a scheming princess who wants the gold for herself. Joan Collins is far from the stereotype she became in later years, and her acting ability leaves no doubt as to why Hawkins' Pharaoh falls for her.
The Prodigal, retelling the Biblical story of the prodigal son, is the only truly campy film among the three. There are lots of processions, ponderous dialog, pagan temples, and a beautiful pagan priestess to tempt the hero. Lana Turner may be beautiful, but she needs to take tempting-the-hero lessons from Joan Collins. Speaking of camp, at one point we see a long wall where various slaves are lined up for sale, with descriptions and prices written on the wall next to each slave - written in english of course. Now that's camp!
Volume 4 of Warner Brothers Cult Camp Classics takes up back to the golden era of sword-and-sandal films (and their close cousins, Bible films). This set, titled Historical Epics, feature three entertaining if not particularly good examples of the genre.
First up is The Prodigal, very loosely based on the parable of the prodigal son. Edmund Purdom plays the title character, the son of a successful Jewish farmer in 70 B.C. who falls for a pagan high priestess and forsakes his family and fiancee to pursue her. Lana Turner plays the priestess who is essentially a high-priced call girl, and the price Purdom will be dear indeed, but if you're familiar with the prodigal son story, you know how it will all turn out in the end.
Next is The Colossus of Rhodes, most notable for being Sergio Leone's first credited directorial effort. If you're expecting the same stylistic film as with his Spaghetti Westerns, you're in for a disappointment: the direction is almost all by-the-book. The story has Rory Calhoun as an Athenian soldier on vacation in Rhodes during a time of intrigue with Phoenicia. Straddling the harbor is the Colossus, not merely a giant statue (far bigger than the historical version), but also an elaborate machine filled with traps for unwanted visitors to the island.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Land of the Pharaohs is a good movie ant hit gets 5 stars. The colossus of Rhodes gets 3 stars. The prodigal dvd has imcomplete file and gets a minimal 1 star. Read morePublished 9 days ago by MDtiger
I bought this set for the Land of the Pharaohs movie which I really like. The other three are mediocre but kind of fun to watch on a wintery day when we can't go outside.Published 1 month ago by LB
A great set which includes four of the most gloriously overwrought displays of over-acting, sloppy direction and simplistic writing imaginable for major film productions. Read morePublished 5 months ago by David Kirk
I love this type of movie, and the ones presented here have fine image quality and audio that is crisp and clear. The packaging, which I tend to nit-pick, is a lot of fun. Read morePublished 10 months ago by R. S. Kern
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