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Samson (1961) 
Written by: on October 18th, 2006

Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1961
Directors: Gianfranco Parolini
Cast: Brad Harris, Irena Prosen, Mara Berni, Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Corey

DVD Released: 2006
Approximate Running Time: 94 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Italian
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: RHV
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: $21.95

Synopsis: Samson (Brad Harris) and a few of his buddies are arrested while traveling through the kingdom of Sulom. Samson is friends with Mila the queen of Sulom who is now being held prisoner by her cousin Princess, Romilda who is being lead astray by a mercenary named Warkalla. Samson soon finds out that his old friend Mila is being held prisoner and he narrowly escapes the castle with his life. Samson while hiding out from Warkalla’s men befriends a group of disgruntled people who want him to help lead their revolution to regain the land out of the clutches of the diabolical Warkalla. With Samson by their side with the people of Sulom be able to rid their land of Warkalla forever?

Samson was made during the height of the Peplum genre. It was directed by Gianfranco Parolini who also directed the Sabata Trilogy. Samson has all the clichés one has come to except while watching a Peplum and the similarities between Samson and another Peplum staple Hercules are uncanny. Samson was by no means a large budget production and yet it makes excellent use of the sets it has to work with giving the film a higher production value then it really had. Parolini’s direction is solid through out and his direction during action sequences is excellent.

Samson plot resembles a game of cat and mouse as Samson and his cohorts get caught and escape several times through out the film. One has to wonder why Warkalla just didn’t have them killed after escaping a few times. There is plenty of action and muscle flexing before the films final confrontation in which Samson leads a full on revolt against Warkalla and his men. Brad Harris is no stranger to Peplum fans having stared in several of these epics. Also look out for another man of muscle in Samson in the form of actor Alan Steele who has portrayed not only Hercules but Samson in few films. Watching Brad Harris and Alan Steele square off is truly one of the films greatest moments. Ultimately Samson may not be one of the best Peplum ever made, still it embodies all the things that make these films so much fun.

The DVD:

Samson is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Outside a few very minor instances where the colors look just a tad off the rest of the film looks vivid and nicely saturated throughout. Details look sharp and the print used for this transfer nearly flawless with no major print damage. It is always bets when ever possible t watch Peplum in their original aspect ratio and Samson look great in its original total scope dimensions.

Samson comes with two audio options Italian and English. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Both audio mixes offer clear dialog that is never overpowered or drowned out by the music and effects. There are some minor instances where hiss is noticeable and outside of this there are no other audio defects. While the inclusion of the Italian language track is a nice addition the lack of English subtitles is unfortunately.

Extras for this release are limited too the films original trailer in Italian with no English subtitles and a eighteen minute interview with director Gianfranco Parolini. The interview is in Italian and comes with removable English subtitles. Gianfranco Parolini has a sharp memory as he talks about the various stages of his career including an encounter with Sergio Leone on The Last Days of Pompeii. Of note this interview is also included as part of RHV’s Goliath against the Giants DVD release. Also this release comes with a booklet with a list of the cast & crew, a bio & filmography for Gianfranco Parolini and a bio & filmography for the Samson character and the various movies made about him.

The Peplum genre is by far and away the most overlooked Italian film genre when it comes to the DVD format. RHV’s Samson not only comes in its original aspect ratio is also comes with a entertaining interview with Gianfranco Parolini making this release a must purchase is you are a fan of Peplum films.

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