Friday, February 16, 2024

Poseidon Quickies: Brotherly Love

It's funny how we tumble into things. A recent comment about Daliah Lavi (in my post about The Ambushers, 1967) sent me to watch the spy flick Some Girls Do (1969.) While watching that, I was taken aback by the amazing eyes of another actress who was then making her debut (Sydne Rome.) As I began to look into what she was all about, I knocked into another of her films - Vivi o preferibilmente morti, also from 1969. (The Italian title translates to "Alive or Preferably Dead.") And that film had as it's male lead one Giuliano Gemma, an actor who happened to be mentioned in the very same set of comments that led me to watch Some Girls Do! As Liv Ullman said, "The world is a circle..." Anyway, the movie with Giuliano and Sydne was a real eye-opener and highlights from it are required here in The Underworld!

The remarkable eyes of Ms Sydne Rome that ultimately led me to today's featured flick. Rome seemed to possess qualities that were a hybrid of Goldie Hawn and early Suzanne Somers and - despite her foreign-sounding name and a career in exclusively European films - was from Akron, Ohio!

This is Gemma. I'm not going to bore you with a lot of plot details. The crux of this light-spirited late-western romp involves the refined Gemma standing to inherit a large some of money from a deceased uncle... IF he can cohabit with his estranged brother for six months.

Said brother is 180-degrees different. A rough-and-tumble cowpoke, who is always up to something. For me, this was the find of the movie... Nino Benvenuti was an internationally renowned boxer, making his (short-lived) debut as a movie actor. Laying eyes on him, I suddenly became a fan of the caveman brow!

These two opposites will be hard-pressed to make a go of the situation and do not start off on the best of terms.

In fact, it's not long before the "house" is gone!

Gemma is nice looking, but leaner and more angular than the type I go in for. But Benvenuti, burlier and more block-headed, was melting my butter! I have to confess two things now. One is that I watched this whole movie with the sound off! LOL I really did. The other is that after I was all done capturing the scenes I wanted to share with you, I found another, far more clean and crisp copy of the film. Just my luck... But even so, I somehow like the burnished, aged rendition about as much. Nevertheless, as we go on, I will post a couple of examples from the restored copy.

Two sequences stood out to me. One was this. After the brothers get ahold of some loot, their place is invaded by a gang of baddies. The head honcho puts some of the coins into a broiling fire. And the guys are relieved of their shirts.

Next, the brothers are flung to the floor with their hands tied behind their backs.

As they flounder and struggle to get free, there's all sorts of hip-thrusting that goes on (towards the camera!)

The villains line up...

...and hold a coin toss! Wearing heavy gloves, they remove screeching hot coins from the fire and begin using the brothers as targets!

These next shots are from the cleaned-up DVD.

In time, they are able to wrangle their way free.

Nothing phallic here, right....?

The other key sequence in the film comes not long after. Gemma is soaking in a luxuriant bubble bath.

I noticed when researching him that his feet are often admired, so I tried to be sure to include some pics with them.

Across the room is brother Benvenuti, trotting around in his drawers.

I just loved him in his cowboy hat and with his swagger.

Come to find out, there are side-by-side tubs! My heart raced...

The promise of brotherly bubble baths was not to be, though. Benvenuti keeps his long johns on as he tests the water.

For a moment, he even begins to wash his arm through the underwear...! But ultimately, he heads behind a screen (presumably to disrobe.)

Just then, though, the bad guys are back!

Get a load of the armpits he's showing. This movie seems like a fetish fever-dream... There's the S&M aspect of the coin toss, cowboy drag, bath time, cigars, sibling homoerotica, feet, nipples and I'm sure I'm leaving some out! By the way, the marks on his chest are not moles or what-not. Those are burns from the coins that landed on him!

Gemma tries to stay casual and mislead the gang to prevent a scuffle.

Unfortunately, once Benvenuti is discovered, all bets are off. He winds up taking on most of the baddies on his own.

Occasionally, Gemma pitches in a little bit.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a light-hearted movie, so this lengthy scene is very corny and spoofy. While his brother is taking on a whole gang and trashing the place, Gemma refuses to end his bath! He only contributes to the action if it takes place right next to him.

His weapons include scrub brushes, dishes of bath water, suds, sponges, washcloths and - in this case - a jar of powdered bath salts!

At one point he even shows off his juggling prowess with a few bars of soap.

Meanwhile, bro has to do most of the heavy lifting (or kicking!)

All the splashing and soap eventually leads to one, big, slippery melee.

Note the soapy goatee on Benvenuti!

In time, tiring of all the shenanigans, Gemma reaches down and pulls out his big gun.

The whole shebang still isn't over with yet, though. And before all is said and done, Gemma's bathtub is housing not only himself, but the hotel proprietor and his own brother, too!

The place is now coated down in suds.

I wouldn't dare spoil how this sequence finally, finally ends, but it did make me chuckle out loud. Wasn't expecting that for some reason. 

Here is Benvenuti in the high-def rendition.

The high-def resolution makes it all too clear that Gemma had black briefs on under his towel.

By now you may have forgotten about the aforementioned Rome, who makes a belated appearance and causes friction between the brothers as they take turns falling for her charms.

She stays with them for a period of time and before long has them doing laundry and cooking and otherwise domesticating them.

That's not to say that there still isn't a little beefcake to be found. Benvenuti chops up a mess of wood in this scene (shot through a fish-eye lens.)

She can't help but be impressed by this display. Nor could we!

Here he is in the color-corrected print.

Rivalry over the woman leads to a confrontation between the brothers.

Now ya can toss mud-wrestling onto the pile of kinks to be found in this movie!

Following all that, the gents have to sit in their union suits and wash the mud out of their clothes.

This fleeting moment in the film was used in promotion.

Likewise, that extended bathtime scene made the lobby cards.

Some versions of the poster zeroed in on Gemma's bath (adding a hat and holster!)

The finale of the film involves one last stand-off between the brothers.

A worried/delighted Rome watches in anticipation...

In a bizarre move, this movie was released in the US with a new title (unrelated to the movie itself!) and with American names assigned to the stars and director! It was also cut rather heavily (including the part with the boys on the floor receiving searing coins to the chest!)

I doubt that many of my readers (unless they are boxing fans) would be up on Nino Benvenuti. He only made two more movies after this. But he was a highly successful middleweight boxer (as well as Olympic and 3-time World Champion.)

He even graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, surrounded by a feast of Italian treats. While Gemma was killed in a 2013 car accident at age 75, Benvenuti is still with us today at 85.

Even if only to gander at the scenes I've outlined, I think you might get a kick out of seeing this. (Here is the golden-tinged one.)

And here is the restored, high-def version.

Which brings us to The End!



hsc said...

Wow! Such a *great* post!

Not only did you get some tasty framecaps of Giuliano Gemma, but Nino Benvenuti is a GREAT "discovery"! And I have to agree, he's even hotter than GG!

It's a shame that Nino didn't make more than a couple of movies (and even more of a shame that he couldn't have worked with Pasolini, Visconti, or Fellini, who would've really put him on display) and that he's pretty much unknown in the U.S. as a sports figure.

But kudos for capturing his hotness in this film in your framecaps, and for digging up the boxing pictures!

Italian (and other European) Westerns frequently had a lot of beefcake and general male hotness in them, from American actors like Ken Clark as well as from local studs like "Terence Hill"/ Mario Girotti) and "Ken Wood"/ Giovanni Cianfriglia, former stunt double for Steve Reeves*.

I had heard of this movie under its U.S. release title SUNDANCE CASSIDY & BUTCH THE KID-- but only as a shameless example of low-budget film distributors getting foreign films and marketing them to cash in on hit films, with actors renamed to suggest popular stars-- "John Wade" and "Karen Blake" and "Robert Neuman" (simultaneously hitting Robert Redford and Paul Newman, "those other guys" we aren't supposed to "confuse them with").

So the coverage on this one was quite a treat-- and thanks for linking not one but two prints of the film, with a visual comparison of the print quality in your framecaps!

This site is the best! Thanks for another great post and for all you do, Poseidon!

Love to all, and be safe and well, everyone!


* And speaking of Steve Reeves, his last movie, the self-produced "Spaghetti Western" VIVO PER LA TUA MORTE (1968, "I Live for Your Death") was released in the U.S. by Cinerama Releasing as A LONG RIDE FROM HELL, with a surprisingly homoerotic poster.

It features a shirtless muscleman with his face shielded by a low-slung Stetson, arching back from the waist while thrusting a phallicly placed forearm wielding a gun-- while a thrown-back, wide-mouthed face looming in the background suggests a man gasping in climax or opening his mouth to receive that phallic offering!

Unfortunately, I don't think this airbrush art is matched by anything in the film itself.

Gingerguy said...

I loved this. Gemma is a handsome man but Nino makes my soap float. You nailed the combo that is Rome. I initially thought Tori Spelling but slapped my own face for that thought. She has great hair, up to the rigors of 1960s "old west saloon hairdos". I applaud watching with sound off. Hilarious shots, and that poster is too much. I toss a burning coin to you Poseidon

Poseidon3 said...

hsc, I find most spaghetti westerns really hit or miss. Either they have REALLY bad dubbing and nothing original enough or captivating enough to hold my attention or they are so oddball that I can't stop watching. This one happily fell into the latter category. And often I can tolerate a fair amount of Franco Nero or Terence Hill, though too many times they remain fully, heavily clothed! (Hey, it's the dusty old west... ya need a bath! Ha ha!) Glad you liked Nino. I thought he was really cute. I am usually 100% for pristine prints of movies with no cropping, editing etc... But sometimes there's an odd side-effect. Perhaps the special effects don't read as well (when the whole picture is a bit blurry and dark, sometimes it helps cover the seams of rear projection/bluescreen!) or - as happened in this case - movie makeup somehow becomes more obvious than it was when everything had a tan tint to it. I ought to at least check out Steve's last movie to see what it's like. He was another beauty. I'll never forget "The Colossus of Rhodes" when he and a bunch of others went swimming in little white diapers! Thanks!

Ouch! Ginge, I felt that coin where it counts! LOL I'm glad you, too, liked El Nino. He just blew in and stole my heart. Ha ha! Take care and thanks.