Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1960)
First off, there is no "Colossus" in this movie. Hell if I know why.
While obviously an Italian peplum from the golden age of the genre, it's also a comedy, but not in any recognizable form. As was conclusively proven in Blauman and Roycroft's oft-cited landmark Stanford University study, nothing that was once considered "funny" before the first season of How I Met Your Mother in 2005 is actually funny anymore. You can't argue with science, people.
On to the show...
Our story begins in ancient Greece in the era of the Trojan War (just after). Here we meet Glauco, played by blonde American beefsteak Ed Fury, who made a lot of peplum movies in the 1960s but never hit it big over here in the Colonies. The Greekish-sounding "Glauco" is just a fill-in-the-blank, as he's just your typical sword n' sandal musclehead hero. He could just as easily be Hercules, or Atlas, or Goliath, or Mastice, or Ursus, or Thor, and he's most probably the titular Colossus, the names really don't matter in this genre.
Glauco (he's beefarific!).
If Glauco is the standard straight man, then his comedy relief foil is Pirro, a conniving womanizer and a dead ringer for Sinatra back in the Rat Pack era. Pirro is played by Rod Taylor, who had just stared in MGM's big-budget The Time Machine the same year, but here is clearly just cashing an easy paycheck. Oddly, or perhaps not, Rod Taylor gets top billing in the credits. Ed Fury, who plays the title character no less, gets fourth billing, behind two Italian dudes. This is why people laugh at Italy.
Pirro entertains Glauco.
Seriously, that's messed up.
Glauco and Pirro are hired by rich merchants to help with a trading expedition to an island somewhere in the Aegean. Pirro (being the funny guy) is easily lured by stacks of money, while Glauco (as the paragon of virtue) has to be tricked with ale and head wounds. Onboard the ship are a couple dozen other men, all brought aboard under various means to serve as an impressed crew.
Glauco befriends an unfunny Egyptian.
On the island, the merchants trick the men into eating food laced with drugs. They are then rounded up by female Amazon warriors! Ah, so the merchants bring men from the mainland out to the island as slaves in exchange for gold and jewels. Glauco and the odiously bland Egyptian escape for a time, but he's captured later. Glauco offers some unfavorable opinions on women, which were probably not far off from generally-held views in mid-century Italy.
Beach kegger! Whoo!
Off now to the Amazon's city. It's your typical "ancient Greek" style ornate palace, with outlying suburban living areas and a central courtyard (I suspect that this set has been used for dozens, if not hundreds, of Italian movies). Expect to see lots of ionic columns and hanging drapery, all suspiciously spotless and shiny, as are the women. While our setting is the Bronze Age, the fashions are pure 1960's exploitation movie. All the men wear the requisite togas and sandals, but the Amazon chicks get to wear skin-hugging tights with a "chain mail" pattern printed on them. Most oddly, every one of them has their left boob hanging out, barely contained by a single layer of fabric. I've seen a lot of things in my life that made me take notice, but I've never seen this particular fashion look, and I'm a bit disappointed that it never caught on. [Editor Pam: Amazons were traditionally depicted in classical art with one breast bare, a look that obviously would have appeal for a large segment of the target audience for this movie. I suppose this is as far as the moviemakers could go without having the movie banned from mainstream theaters.]
Not only boob, but awesome hair!
The social dynamic in the Amazon world is one of role reversal, where the women go off to work and the men stay home and cook and clean all day. There's also some weird rules about love and sex here, all of which seem to put undue strain on budding relationships. Normal rank-and-file Amazons can have sex, but the Queen has to remain chaste, not even a kiss from a man. For some reason you see this a lot in these "lost matriarchic tribes" movies, and it never makes any sense in societies that are so firmly matriarchal. In "modern" history, female leaders of great nations, from Victoria to Catherine, were never expected to be chaste, why so with the Amazons?
The slaves make pies.
She needs boning!
The current Queen is getting ready to retire, as she's old and her left boob is sagging too much (of course, in this place, 40 is "well seasoned"). The Queen also seems to be a bit of a lush, as well as jaded and bitter that she alone can't experience the sweet forbidden taste of a kiss (with a dude, I assume, not sure how the Amazons felt about Sapphic love). She seems to spend most of her time working on her hair and lounging on some anachronistic Roman-era couches.
The Queen sure loves her drinkie, though, to be fair, heavy is the head that wears the crown.
The real power resides with the older ladies of the senate (all of whom apparently need to go to the bathroom).
There are currently two chicks vying for the throne (which is apparently an elected position, go figure), one named Antiope and some other chick whose name I've forgotten, both vocal and upwardly-mobile lieutenants. The two girls have a trial by combat to decide who has the bigger balls (metaphorically speaking), which consists of some Medieval-style jousting (seriously). For some reason, Antiope throws the fight.
She wants it bad.
And now we come to the day when the Amazon chicks pick their men from the new batch of slaves. After a questionably choreographed West Side Story rip-off song-and-dance show (it is peplum, after all), the women rush up and each grabs the slave of their choice. There's some jaunty comedy here about short stocky men and shorter stockier penises, but it's all sabotaged by the cringingly bad Hee-Haw-esque music (proving yet again that a soundtrack choice can make or break any scene in any movie).
"Benny and the Jets!"
Glauco is picked by Antiope, who hopes to make him her royal consort one day. Glauco is nothing but trouble, however, and he convinces a starstruck Antiope to steal the Girdle of Power (wtf!) and run off with him. I should note here another problem with the film's title. We've already established that there is no Colossus in Colossus and the Amazon Queen, and we can also add to it that the story is in no way at all about the reigning Amazon Queen. Even if we say that Glauco is Colossus, it's still not about the Queen. In fact, and I double checked, Glauco actually doesn't say a single word to the Queen and they are never in-frame together even for a second. Not sure why all that bothers me, but it does.
It should really be called Glauco and that one Amazon filly with the big hair.
The chicks pick the dudes (that one girl has a serious wedgie).
Anyway, while Antiope turns back, hesitant to leave her homeland, Glauco makes good his escape back to Greece. There he goes to a dive bar and lucks into hiring a band of bloodthirsty pirates to come back with him to the Amazon island. The pirates look fabulous just like everyone else, except their parrots wear togas.
Glauco with the pirate chief (or maybe Barry Manilow, hard to tell).
So they sail to the island and drop anchor. Leaving the pirates at the beach, Glauco wanders around alone until he's recaptured by the Amazons (along with Antiope, who had been hiding out in the jungle with that rascally Egyptian). Back at the city, there's some drama as Glauco is condemned to death for being too awesome for his own good, but he's saved by Antiope retrieving the Girdle of Power and getting back on everyone's good side again (I kinda fast-forwarded through some of this, sorry).
It takes 30 chicks and an insane amount of luck to bring Glauco down.
Glauco escapes again and takes a group of city slaves out to some caves in the countryside to free a bunch of other slaves. There are actual grizzly bears chained up outside, guarding the caves, and Glauco has to wrestle them down. It sure looks like those are real live bears, though maybe heavily sedated or bribed with salmon patties and whiskey.
Bear wrestling (many of these scenes are dark and murky, but that may be just my print).
Glauco, Pirro, and the freed slaves form up and run back to the city. They are just in time to lift the siege by the pirates, who have stormed the city walls to plunder and loot. The women have (literally) circled the wagons and are bravely holding out against the pirates' cavalry charge (I would question the wisdom of cavalry charges against fortified positions defended by skilled archers, but it's just a silly movie and there's no point in that). As to why Glauco and the ex-slaves would bother trying to save the people who enslaved them in the first place, it's clear that they want the chicks to themselves, because, you know, they're horny.
The pirates are routed by Glauco's manly manliness and all is better now. A thousand years of cultural mores and established gender roles are forgotten instantly and men and women are now on equal standing in the Amazon community. Glauco presumably becomes King of the Amazons and sits on the couch playing Xbox games while Antiope makes him a sandwich (the natural order of things, after all).
I see that the Amazons have ditched their warlike armor for more traditional clothes, but I'm ok with that.
Written in April 2010 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda.
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