A PEEK AT THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES

It pretty much looks and feels like every other peplum of the time and that's not a bad thing. 3 Stars

I got the new Warner Archive and have watched the first half. It’s the American cut, so 128 minutes, as opposed to the European cut which runs around 144 minutes. This was Leone’s first solo directing effort and it shows absolutely zero of the style he’d present to the world with Fistful of Dollars. It pretty much looks and feels like every other peplum of the time and that’s not a bad thing.

I saw it when it originally played, but unlike the Hercules movies, this one made zero impression on me. I had the DVD and that looked bad. So, when the uncut German Blu-ray came out I snatched it up – sadly it wasn’t English friendly in any way – no dub, no subtitles. But the image looked pretty decent, I thought, with good color and the usual tinny sound of those Italian things, especially the Lavagnino score.

The Warner Archive disc is, for me, not quite as visually good – color is decent, but it’s REALLY grainy, mostly because I believe when MGM released this originally they would have had some kind of dupe negative or internegative of the cut version, generations away from any camera negative. I have no doubt it was probably super grainy in its theater prints. But it’s never as sharp as the German Blu (which, BTW, has its own set of peculiar problems with gate weave and some weird color shifts and bloopy edits.

But if you want the English you need the Warner Archive and it’s probably as good as they could get whatever element they had to work with. The film is long even at 128 minutes, but it’s fun

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Kevin Collins

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48 Comments

  1. I can just about remember seeing this at the cinema in the early sixties, along with films like, Duel Of The Titans, Hercules Unchained & Sons Of Thunder (I must have been very uncritical about lip-sync in those days), I don't think I could sit through any of them now. This does seem like an odd choice for a WAC release.

  2. haineshisway

    I got the new Warner Archive and have watched the first half. It's the American cut, so 128 minutes, as opposed to the European cut which runs around 144 minutes. This was Leone's first solo directing effort and it shows absolutely zero of the style he'd present to the world with Fistful of Dollars. It pretty much looks and feels like every other peplum of the time and that's not a bad thing.

    I saw it when it originally played, but unlike the Hercules movies, this one made zero impression on me. I had the DVD and that looked bad. So, when the uncut German Blu-ray came out I snatched it up – sadly it wasn't English friendly in any way – no dub, no subtitles. But the image looked pretty decent, I thought, with good color and the usual tinny sound of those Italian things, especially the Lavagnino score.

    The Warner Archive disc is, for me, not quite as visually good – color is decent, but it's REALLY grainy, mostly because I believe when MGM released this originally they would have had some kind of dupe negative or internegative of the cut version, generations away from any camera negative. I have no doubt it was probably super grainy in its theater prints. But it's never as sharp as the German Blu (which, BTW, has its own set of peculiar problems with gate weave and some weird color shifts and bloopy edits.

    But if you want the English you need the Warner Archive and it's probably as good as they could get whatever element they had to work with. The film is long even at 128 minutes, but it's fun

    US prints may well have been grainy but European prints certainly weren't. I happened to see the film in Ostend, Belgium in September 1961. Although a long time ago, it was one of those films which stood out for me simply because the picture quality was exceptionally good; very clear, sharp and bright. I can still see the images in my mind on that massive screen in what was a very modern cinema with a bar at the rear of the auditorium which was open while the film was playing! (now long demolished as I noted on a recent visit). One thing I certainly can't claim to remember though, is whether the film ran 128 or 144 minutes.

  3. Thankfully, I don't like the film enough to buy it again (I have the DVD that was in the Warner box set of sword and sandal epics), but I'm glad it's something of an upgrade for those who want it. I really want to support Warner Archive, but this is not a movie I'd ever watch enough to justify its price.

  4. I thought WA were only releasing blu-rays with very good image quality rather than the best they could do. If the latter it should be possible to release many other films that wouldn't previously have made the cut.

  5. I will go on record here saying that the European Blu-ray is not very sharp or detailed to begin with so with this release having rather less detail it would seem that this release is not up to the usual standards of the Warner Archive.

    As Keith points out this not a bad thing if it means that now we will also get other releases on Blu-ray that Warner already has available in some kind of quality that is somewhere in between a good DVD and a good Blu-ray.

  6. I love this movie but pulled my pre-order. I have a strange feeling that Warner Archives is going to have a sale by the end of the July. If I'm wrong, I'll go ahead and order it… One of my favorites of the sword and sandal era (peplum). Rory Calhoun is great.

    I would like Helen of Troy and Land of the Pharaohs as well though, don't get me wrong. But I'm happy to see any of this genre released. I especially enjoy the tomb scene and the fight in/on the Colossus.

    Maybe one day another party will release the Steve Reeves films too, particularly Hercules and Hercules Unchained.

  7. skylark68

    Maybe one day another party will release the Steve Reeves films too, particularly Hercules and Hercules Unchained.

    I can just about remember seeing Hercules Unchained. I was 9 or 10, & there was a huge publicity campaign, vans driving around the streets displaying a huge film poster, so me & some school mates went to see it, big colour poster, very colourful stills as we shuffled into the cinema, the film starts…& it's b/w! Not even a nice b/w, but a murky flat b/w. It wasn't until years later that I found out it was supposed to be in colour. Of course now I know what happened, obviously the distributer only had a colour print & knocked off a load of cheap b/w prints from it.

    Anyone interested in these ancient world epics, I can thoroughly recommend the book, The Epic Film by Derek Elley, although it's probably out of print now.

  8. Lord Dalek

    This is Techniscope right? That would add to the grain since you're working with 50% real estate.

    No. It was credited as Supertotalscope. An Italian anamorphic lens similar to CinemaScope.

  9. Billy Batson

    Anyone interested in these ancient world epics, I can thoroughly recommend the book, The Epic Film by Derek Elley, although it's probably out of print now.

    Adrian Turner recommended this in another thread and immediately got it – great book! It can be had used for very little money at both Amazon US and Amazon UK but it is also available new:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-lis…ap_used_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=&sr=

  10. Douglas R

    No. It was credited as Supertotalscope. An Italian anamorphic lens similar to CinemaScope.

    I saw it as a bottom half of a MGM double bill on the ABC circuit in London.
    A western with "Doctor Kildare" was the top half.
    Colossus got a rave review in the Evening News paper and ended up "going solo" for a season at the Ritz next to the Empire Leicester Sq.
    As a kid with a developing interest in Ancient history, I thought it was great.
    Shame though it didn't get Steve Reeves or Richard Harrison.

  11. OliverK said: "I will go on record here saying that the European Blu-ray is not very sharp or detailed to begin with so with this release having rather less detail it would seem that this release is not up to the usual standards of the Warner Archive."

    So you're going "on record" as having actually seen the German Blu-ray? Because I feel like I'm being gaslighted here. I A/B'd the two releases – to my eyes the German had slightly better color and it sure looked more detailed to me and I'm not sure how you can say, outside of a handful of shot, that it has no detail when it clearly does, and certainly more than the Warner Archive. As I said, the German has its own set of issues – scratches, some weird editing shifts, gate weave, but detail is not a problem. There's nothing terrible about the Warners transfer and I'm sure they did the best with whatever element they had – it looks fine and if you're a fan you should get it.

  12. So you're going "on record" as having actually seen the German Blu-ray? Because I feel like I'm being gaslighted here. I A/B'd the two releases – to my eyes the German had slightly better color and it sure looked more detailed to me and I'm not sure how you can say, outside of a handful of shot, that it has no detail when it clearly does, and certainly more than the Warner Archive. As I said, the German has its own set of issues – scratches, some weird editing shifts, gate weave, but detail is not a problem. There's nothing terrible about the Warners transfer and I'm sure they did the best with whatever element they had – it looks fine and if you're a fan you should get it.

    I am a big fan of peplums and of Sergio Leone so yes I watched the German Blu-ray version some time ago and found the detail to be disappointing, even in the well lit scenes shot during the day.

    There was no malice towards you in my post by the way and I had to look up being gaslighted 🙂 Me and I am sure a lot of other members would be happy if Warner lowered their standards a bit and gave us more releases that otherwise would not make the cut. And I would not think that this makes this release terrible, just that it may be the first release for some time that looks a bit less than perfect which is not a bad thing.

  13. CarlosMeat

    Wow, never heard of that one !

    Don't confuse SuperTotalScope with SuperCineScope, another obscure Italian anamorphic process.

    (Personally, I'd be content with RegularTotalScope.) :rolling-smiley:

  14. Well, I'm a Dyaliscope man myself ;).
    Actually some of the these European processes were regarded as superior to the B&L lenses that CinemaScope used at that time.
    As Doug noted above, he recalls the print he saw as very sharp.

  15. RICK BOND

    They should have released Helen of Troy instead. A Much better movie with an Excellent cast.

    Rhodes is a nice run-of-the-mill peplum picture which I upgraded immediately as I'm into that sort of thing. Still, Damon and Pythias is a much better peplum style film available in DVD from the WB Archives. But, Helen of Troy is what I would consider a masterpiece of its genre. Even its acclaimed director, Robert Wise, came to consider it one of his best efforts. Howard Hawks' stunning Land of the Pharaohs seems still in limbo, as is Victor Saville's bizarre but fun Silver Chalice and Richard Thorpe's campy as hell The Prodigal. But, I wonder if Cooper and Schoedsack's fabulous 1935 Last Days of Pompeii will ever make it to HD, just because it is so damned unique and feels kind of like King Kong meets Sign of the Cross.

  16. Billy Batson

    Yup, I originally posted this on another thread, I should have posted it here. DVD quality at best, I don't even know why Warner would release this.

    it is unfortunate that the caps from the DVD are pulled from the comparison as in several caps there was very little improvement from the DVD to the German Blu-ray so I would indeed expect there to be a very small difference only between the Warner Archive Blu-ray and the DVD.

  17. OliverK

    it is unfortunate that the caps from the DVD are pulled from the comparison as in several caps there was very little improvement from the DVD to the German Blu-ray so I would indeed expect there to be a very small difference only between the Warner Archive Blu-ray and the DVD.

    There is a comparison between the DVD & the Blu-ray just up on DVD Beaver. I think the lack of online chat about Colossus is that I'm thinking very few people are interested in buying it , & I just don't know why Warner released it when they didn't have the original elements, & what they do have is obviously sub-standard, especially with all the talk of Warner's very high standards. Oh well, onwards & upwards, looking forward to reviews on The Last Hunt & The Naked & The Dead.

    http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/blu-ray_reviews52/the_colossus_of_rhodes_blu-ray.htm

  18. I thought it was a good transfer although not the best. It was a decent upgrade from the DVD. I watched it about a week ago. Love the film, Rory Calhoun is really fun to watch. The sword fight on the arm of the Colossus is tremendous for a film of the era. I only wish more of these old sword and sandal type films were released in the USA on bluray, including Hercules and Hercules Unchained. I could be wrong, but don't the rights to both of those films reside with WB?

  19. haineshisway

    It was probably as good a transfer as could be done with a dupe negative many generations away from the camera negative.

    Agreed about the available elements but then why release it at all? if they wanted to release a movie of this type they could have released The Prodigal instead or Land of the Pharaohs or other movies where they should have less of an issue with the quality of the available elements. Or they may have approached the company in Europe that produced the master that was used for the German Blu-ray.

    Oh well, even the Warner Archive cannot have a home run with every release.

  20. haineshisway

    I agree about the why of this title. Unless they thought all the Leone freaks would have to have it, but considering Leone didn't consider it part of his filmography…

    It certainly did not feel like a Leone movie to me, I can understand that he would disown it.

  21. OliverK

    Or they may have approached the company in Europe that produced the master that was used for the German Blu-ray.

    .

    What I was thinking as well. This is almost an embarrassment compared to the German release.

  22. haineshisway

    I agree about the why of this title. Unless they thought all the Leone freaks would have to have it, but considering Leone didn't consider it part of his filmography…

    The Leone factor is exactly why they chose this over The Prodigal, Land of the Pharaohs and Helen of Troy. Those 3 did not sell that well on VHS and DVD. I think only The Prodigal had a Laserdisc release. This film out sold those on DVD and most likely because of the Leone factor. He only made a handful(or Fistful pardon the pun) of films and Leone fans will keep buying them over and over so it makes sense to release a lesser film of his on blu ray.

  23. CarlosMeat

    What I was thinking as well. This is almost an embarrassment compared to the German release.

    I have no special knowledge about how these releases are handled but one would think that at some point Warner would see that what they can achieve is not as satisfactory as it could be. At that point one would think that they could approach whoever holds the rights to the master that is used by European companies. You would also think that it would be more cost-efficient to go that route.
    At least this is how one would hope it could be.

  24. Randy Korstick

    The Leone factor is exactly why they chose this over The Prodigal, Land of the Pharaohs and Helen of Troy. Those 3 did not sell that well on VHS and DVD. I think only The Prodigal had a Laserdisc release. This film out sold those on DVD and most likely because of the Leone factor. He only made a handful(or Fistful pardon the pun) of films and Leone fans will keep buying them over and over so it makes sense to release a lesser film of his on blu ray.

    Reminds me of the time when we had that Fox poll and ended up with mostly second and third tier John Wayne movies winning the polls. One of them had even been available in other territories before the poll and instead of a really new release we got a John Wayne film that had already been released in Europe.

    As for the info about higher sales do you have internal numbers from Warner or has Warner gone on record saying that Colossus was more successful than other titles?

  25. Oh I dunno, will this really sell better than The Land Of The Pharaohs? I bought the Warner Cult Camp Classics Epics box just to get Pharaohs, I did look at The Prodigal & (sort of) enjoyed it, I just never bothered looking at Colossus (& I did see it at the cinema way back when), so I'm not bothered about buying it, & am not that bothered that it looks bad, but…what does this tell us about Warner's very high standards – oh they won't release this classic title because the elements just aren't good enough for the Archive (that rings a bit false now). As I stated above, I think the lack of online chat about this is because not that many people are interested in buying it, but then what do I know, I suppose it could be a best seller.

  26. Randy Korstick

    The Leone factor is exactly why they chose this over The Prodigal, Land of the Pharaohs and Helen of Troy. Those 3 did not sell that well on VHS and DVD. I think only The Prodigal had a Laserdisc release. This film out sold those on DVD and most likely because of the Leone factor. He only made a handful(or Fistful pardon the pun) of films and Leone fans will keep buying them over and over so it makes sense to release a lesser film of his on blu ray.

    Colossus of Rhodes, The Prodigal and Land of the Pharaohs came out on DVD in a box set so how could Colossus have outsold the others? And surely VHS and Laserdisc are too long ago for Warner Bros to still be making Blu-ray marketing decisions based on those sales of very many years ago.

  27. OliverK

    Reminds me of the time when we had that Fox poll and ended up with mostly second and third tier John Wayne movies winning the polls. One of them had even been available in other territories before the poll and instead of a really new release we got a John Wayne film that had already been released in Europe.

    As for the info about higher sales do you have internal numbers from Warner or has Warner gone on record saying that Colossus was more successful than other titles?

    Based on Amazon sales numbers, Something I remember reading in a Video trade magazine and what Warner responded with when asked about the titles on Facebook about 6-8 months ago. None of these movies gets much attention and very rarely play on TV unlike the more famous epics.

  28. Douglas R

    Colossus of Rhodes, The Prodigal and Land of the Pharaohs came out on DVD in a box set so how could Colossus have outsold the others? And surely VHS and Laserdisc are too long ago for Warner Bros to still be making Blu-ray marketing decisions based on those sales of very many years ago.

    They were also sold separately. I only bought The Colossus of Rhodes as I had no interest in the other two. I also bought Helen of Troy as a stand alone.

  29. Randy Korstick

    Based on Amazon sales numbers, Something I remember reading in a Video trade magazine and what Warner responded with when asked about the titles on Facebook about 6-8 months ago. None of these movies gets much attention and very rarely play on TV unlike the more famous epics.

    I only see single disc releases of Land of the Pharaohs and Colossus of Rhodes from the Warner Archive Collection so if there was a single release of The Prodigal I must have missed it.

  30. OliverK

    I only see single disc releases of Land of the Pharaohs and Colossus of Rhodes from the Warner Archive Collection so if there was a single release of The Prodigal I must have missed it.

    I bought the set, but I know Big Lots! sold the individual random discs from the set for Circa $5.00

  31. B-ROLL

    I bought the set, but I know Big Lots! sold the individual random discs from the set for Circa $5.00

    Big Lots bargain bin tells you all you need to know about the sales of these titles. But Rhodes has the Leone factor which was the biggest reason it was chosen for Blu as that makes it sell better which was my main point.

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