Movie: (1959) An Italian sword & sandal epic loosely based on the Battle of Marathon. Olympic athlete and rising star Phillipides is drawn into political intrigues in Athens on the eve of a Persian invasion when he meets a young girl and her scheming father and fiancé. When the Persians arrive, he goes on a mission to enlist the Spartans and returns to hold off the fleet with only the small Sacred Guard.
First released: 10/09/2007 (on DVD)
Opening: Mike covers himself in pudding fixing a technical problem, when Honcho calls in from a private moonshot with Rita Moreno to request “sweaty, sweaty men.”
Lunch Break: Bill, a self-described history “knower”, gives a demonstration on the historical Battle of Marathon using Mike and Kevin’s lunches.
End: A Stupid Hat contest. Mike goes with Basque Beret and things go downhill from there.
Extras: First, "An Apology from Mike Nelson" to ancient Persians, Italians, Norwegians, and Basque. This is a good template for anyone making an apology for something they’ve said on social media, as most celebrities have by now done.
Second, "Commentary by Walter S. Ferguson." Walter (Mike) was a bit player in the movie and points out his many appearances playing a variety of characters, animals, costumes and scenery. This bit is surprisingly long—about 7 ½ minutes.
Availability: Hulu, Amazon, Amazon instant, and Netflix.
Reminds me of: all of the sword & sandal films, but most specifically Hercules Unchained: the two male leads are the same actors!
And so we come to the end of the Film Crew. This was my favorite movie of theirs, similar to several enjoyable Hercules films from MST days. This does have long, drawn out battle scenes but the Crew’s commentary takes us through them quite nicely.
Although the DVD came out after the movie 300, thanks to being produced almost two years earlier there are no riffs about it! Kind of a wasted opportunity.
Cast and crew roundup: Steve Reeves (Phillipides) and Sergio Fantoni (Theocrites) played almost identical roles in Hercules Unchained, and that film also included Gianni Loti (Teucro/Sandoni) and Daniele Vargas (Darius/Anfiarao), while Ivo Garrani (Creuso) also played Pelias in Hercules. Alan Steel/Sergio Ciani plays the Spartan Euros; he was not only Steve Reeve’s body double but went on to succeed him as Hercules/Maciste in Hercules Against the Moon Men!
The only way to tell the films apart is the female leads! Mylene Demongeot (Andromeda) had a long career as a French blond sex symbol, and Daniela Rocca (Karis) a rather brief career. Strangely I thought Karis was supposed to be older and more sophisticated than Andromeda, but Mylene was two years older than Daniela.(Mylene has an amusing quote on IMBD from her experiences on set: “Having been bound once to the prow of a ship in Cinecitta for one of the gladiator movies I made there, I could only hear the director instructing me in a megaphone: ‘Be sexy! Be sexy!’ Whatever that meant!” All I can say is, mission accomplished.)
Callback: A Stupid Hat contest was also a host segment in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Bill also asks “are there really such things as women anymore?” as did Crow in Host Segment 1 of Hobgoblins.
Fave riff: “Package for you, sir.” Honorable mention: “How do you say ‘pretentious ass’ in Farsi?”
Next week: Cinematic Titanic and the “Legacy of Blood”!
(This week I will also try to post a few final thoughts about the Film Crew.)