What was the first peplum?

Steve Reeves' Hercules and all the badly-dubbed heroes who followed.

What was the first peplum?

blufeld
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Joined: March 21st, 2017, 4:34 pm

June 10th, 2018, 3:20 pm #1

HERCULES seems to be the standard answer, but what about ULYSSES (Kirk Douglas)?  It was the blueprint for HERCULES, take an Anglo-Saxon star and surround him with Italian actors - a lot of the time, they would have an Anglo-Saxon mixed in a supporting role or the villain (Anthony Quinn, Bruce Cabot, Broderick Crawford. Rod Taylor, etc.)  Was ULYSSES the first?  About the silent Maciste films, would any of them the definition of peplum?  I guess not, Maciste wasn't an Anglo-Saxon hero (and from what I've read, that's a must-even the Italians preferred them.)

What was the last one?  I've read that HERCULES, SAMSON, AND ULYSSES was the last but I don't know.  Some think a peplum has to star a "boulder tossing" strong man.  Some think Rory Calhoun in THE COLUSSUS OF RHODES is peplum.  Is there a definition of peplum without relying on the fabric of clothes they wore?
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davlghry
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Joined: January 7th, 2005, 11:47 pm

June 10th, 2018, 3:35 pm #2

I believe the first HERCULES was made in response to the success of ULYSSES.  
In the 1950's American studios had begun shooting sword and sandal costume epics in Italy and Spain like QUO VADIS, ALEXANDER THE GREAT, HELEN OF TROY.  These productions helped to open the door to the peplum movement.  
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Monsterpal
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June 11th, 2018, 12:38 am #3

It might be the 1949 Italian epic Fabiola with Michelle Morgan and Michel Simon.
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rvoyttbots
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June 11th, 2018, 12:46 am #4

I go with HERCULES. 
  
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Grant
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Grant
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June 11th, 2018, 1:22 am #5

It's really stretching things, but some people would say Cabiria (1914), which is evidently the first film with a strongman character named Maciste.
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Rick
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Joined: December 22nd, 2004, 2:22 pm

June 11th, 2018, 1:24 am #6

Same problem as naming the very first horror film. What is "horror"? What is a "peplum"? And sometimes, particularly when you get way back in the early silents --what is a film?

I'm 99% that there is no answer to this question, just a variety of variously cogent theories.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
~ Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
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rvoyttbots
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Joined: October 25th, 2005, 12:15 am

June 11th, 2018, 2:55 am #7

Yeah, there were a number of films during the silent years. However, where are all those peplums from the 30s & 40s & 50s? Nah, it lasted 7 years from 58 to 65.
  
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blufeld
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Joined: March 21st, 2017, 4:34 pm

June 11th, 2018, 12:21 pm #8

Even Steve Reeves gets mixed up.  In the interview on You Tube with Steve, Gordon Scott and John Hart (The Lone Ranger for one season when Clayton Moore was in a salary dispute), Steve was asked about HERCULES origins and he said (paraphrasing) "They had made one Kirk Douglas movie-SPARTACUS I believe-and it made a bunch of money, so they got the idea of making movies based on the mythological hero Hercules and it was a world wide hit".  Of course, he was thinking of ULYSSES (SPARTACUS wasn't released until 1962).

Myself, I think you have to have a supernaturally strong, "boulder tossing" hero to be a peplum.  Movies, like THE COLUSSUS OF RHODES et al, are what the movie critics call them-"costumers".
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telegonus
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Joined: July 27th, 2006, 12:07 pm

June 14th, 2018, 8:25 pm #9

rvoyttbots wrote: I go with HERCULES.



 Hercules is the earliest film I can think of that qualifies. There are a bunch of early and mid-Fifties costume adventure films, whether Biblical, ancient epic or swashbuckler, whose success likely influenced the making (and marketing) of Hercules, but none of them that I know of is really peplum.
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blufeld
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Joined: March 21st, 2017, 4:34 pm

June 15th, 2018, 1:11 pm #10

So that rules out  Kevin Sorbo's TV series of HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS.  Paul Telfer was at least in Hercules shape.
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scotpens
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June 15th, 2018, 11:33 pm #11

blufeld wrote: HERCULES seems to be the standard answer, but what about ULYSSES (Kirk Douglas)?  It was the blueprint for HERCULES, take an Anglo-Saxon star and surround him with Italian actors - a lot of the time, they would have an Anglo-Saxon mixed in a supporting role or the villain (Anthony Quinn, Bruce Cabot, Broderick Crawford. Rod Taylor, etc.)
Mexican-born, one-quarter-Irish Anthony Quinn an "Anglo-Saxon"?
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Monsterpal
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June 16th, 2018, 1:04 am #12

blufeld wrote:
(SPARTACUS wasn't released until 1962).
1960
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blufeld
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June 16th, 2018, 10:16 am #13

Tough crowd.  Since everybody's dog piling on me, I'll join in.  HERCULES, SAMSON AND ULYSSES was never close to be the last peplum.  I don't know where I got that-it was released in 1963.  But it didn't make it to Hartford, KY until 1965 (same year as GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES, which was released earlier (in the rest of the world) than H, S, & U.
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Joined: November 10th, 2004, 5:32 am

June 20th, 2018, 10:26 pm #14

From Wikipedia...

Ulysses is a 1954[1] fantasy-adventure film based on Homer's epic poem Odyssey. The movie was directed by Mario Camerini, who co-wrote the screenplay with writer Franco Brusati. The original choice for director was Georg Wilhelm Pabst but he quit at the last minute.[2] The film's cinematographer Mario Bava co-directed the Polyphemus segment (uncredited).

In the film Silvana Mangano plays two roles, as Penelope, the faithful wife of Ulysses and the sorceress, Circe. American star Kirk Douglas plays the Greek hero, Ulysses. Anthony Quinn plays Antinous. The tremendous success of this film led to the making of Hercules (1957), which was credited with igniting the Italian peplum craze of the 1960s.[citation needed]
Just for the record.

- GJS
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blufeld
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Joined: March 21st, 2017, 4:34 pm

June 21st, 2018, 3:04 pm #15

So for all known reasons, HERCULES is officially the first peplum.
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rvoyttbots
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Joined: October 25th, 2005, 12:15 am

June 22nd, 2018, 1:23 am #16

OK, ULYSSES influenced the producers of HERCULES. But it wasn`t like a couple months later but THREE years later. So to claim ULYSSES is the first peplum is just wrong. It is HERCULES, period.
  
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Rick
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June 22nd, 2018, 1:36 am #17

I think I'll go with CABIRIA, just to be contrary. 'Cause that's how I roll.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
~ Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
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