The once formidable ancient spectacle genre (Quo Vadis, Samson and Delilah, Land of the Pharoahs, Alexander The Great, Ben-Hur, Spartacus, King of Kings) was a Hollywood thing, but when the Italians got involved matters took a sudden downward turn. The Italian knockoffs, known mostly as “sword and sandal” pics, really lowered the real-estate values. Sets and visual effects were cheaper, the crowd scenes smaller, the cinematography less awesome, the lead actors second- or third-tier.
Before you knew it a genre that had once been known for “cast of thousands” and “years in the making” and was suddenly about wooden swords, cardboard shields and English-dubbed dialogue in the realm of “This is your last chance, Demosthanes…withdraw your legions or die!”
1962 was the year that sword-and-sandal flicks really showed their diminished worth. Richard Fleischer‘s Barabbas (shot in Verona and Rome under Dino de Laurentiis), Rudolph Mate‘s The 300 Spartans (shot for roughly twice what most Italian s & s cheapies were being made for at the time) and Robert Aldrich‘s Sodom and Gomorrah (shot in Marrakech with Italian money) — all ’62 releases, and none were great shakes.
The big climactic fight in Wolfgang Petersen‘s Troy was fought by Brad Pitt‘s Achilles and Eric Bana‘s Hector. The exact same confrontation was performed in The Fury of Achilles by Gordon Mitchell (Achilles) and Jacques Bergerac (Hector).
Please watch both (Troy‘s version is after the jump) and tell me honestly which version is the more involving, exciting, gripping.
Bergerac was quite the ladies man in his day. He married Ginger Rogers in February 1953, when she was 42 and he was 26; their marriage ended in July ’57. Two years later he married Dorothy Malone, who at the time was only three years older — she was 35, he was 32. They had two daughters together, and divorced in December ’64.