Movie Diary 5/6/2018

colossusThe Colossus of Rhodes (Sergio Leone, 1961). The power of movie imagery: I saw this sword ‘n sandals picture on daytime TV when I was eight years old-ish and some of its moments (including the demise of the mighty statue) stayed with me, with utter vividness, through the years. Then I saw it again, on Saturday afternoon, in a 35 mm print at the Edinburgh Filmhouse. A cool experience, and the movie itself is crammed with things that would delight a young film-watcher: arrows through the neck, boiling oil dumped on a ship from a chalice held by the Colossus, lots of secret passageways. Some of the torture is rather intense (how’d they do the burning-acid-dropping-from-the-ceiling-burning-guys-on-the-back trick, anyway?). You can see some of Leone’s behavioral stuff too, especially in the way men get along (or compete) with each other. Rory Calhoun is the lead, and darned if he doesn’t come off pretty well as a roguish Athenian. The large musical score is by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, whose career includes spaghetti westerns as well as Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight and Othello.

The Woman Eater (Charles Saunders, 1958). Considering the mad-scientist possibilities, it is surprising that George Coulouris doesn’t vamp it up more in this lead role; the onetime member of Welles Mercury Theatre (and Mr. Thatcher in Citizen Kane) plays the part mostly in a low-sinister vein. He’s developing a life-after-death serum, after visiting the jungle and returning with a many-limbed tree that devours attractive young women, thus somehow producing a regenerative potion. Yeah, it’s pretty lame. The woman who sings a voodoo song in the jungle sequence, Marpessa Dawn, snagged the lead role in Black Orpheus a year later.