01 May, 2007


Gordon Scott and his 19 inch biceps from Riccardo Freda's stylish SAMSON AND THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (1961)*, in which he actually played Maciste before it was dubbed, retitled and imported to the US by AIP.

It was sad news that Gordon passed away on April 30th in a Baltimore hospital after lingering complications from heart surgery. Born Gordon W. Werschul in 1927 he lived nearly 80 years. From his days as an Army Drill Instructor and MP to his appearances in six Hollywood Tarzan films after being discovered working as a life guard in Las Vegas, to his 19 films made in Italy between 1961 to 1967, Gordon kept busy but lived a hard and long goodbye for the final 40 years of his life. Director Freda admired his strength but complained about his drinking. Stories like how he wrecked his sports car and just walked away leaving it in a Roman alleyway abounded. Given his alcoholism, a terminal disease, it seems a miracle he lasted as long as he did.

He doesn't have much dialogue in SAMSON AND THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (and damned if I can count "7" miracles) but he has "presence" and his unique physique, not as pumped up as Steve Reeves (his costar in Sergio Corbucci's DUEL OF THE TITANS), and it's the kind of charismatic physical presence that extraordinary athletes and stuntpeople have (it looks like he actually performed many of the dangerous stunts in SAMSON... himself). He seems perfectly scuplted for Freda's near perfect peplum and you easily suspend belief at the climax when he breaks out of his tomb beneath the foundations of ancient Peking, toppling the city (a highpoint in both his and Freda's careers).

His final film was Gianfranco Baldanello's LE RAYON INFERNAL (DANGER!! DEATH RAY), a delightfully inconsequential Eurospy entry in which he plays an agent named Bart Fargo who must secure the return of a kidnapped scientist. He looks like he's having a good time walking around in a tuxedo and bow tie in various Spanish gambling casinos. Still trim and fit, he's no match for Sean Connery in the acting department but you kind of enjoy watching him enjoying himself. And there's an interesting supporting peformance by "Max Dean" (BLOOD AND BLACK LACE's Massimo Righi) as an inept enemy agent befriended by Scott. Other villains include Jess Franco regular Alberto Dalbes (TENDER AND PERVERSE EMANUELLE) and Sylvia Solar (NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST). A terrific CAM jazz score is a value added extra. This is the kind of compelling obscurity which we may never see on US DVD. But who knows?

I certainly hope to someday see R1 HD transfers of such Gordon Scott classics as GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES, DUEL OF THE TITANS, and a correctly letterboxed SAMSON AND THE SEVEN MIRACLES (forget the cheap Alpha DVD!) from quality elements.


(C) Robert Monell

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