ATLAS AGAINST THE CZAR (1964)
aka SAMSON VS. THE GIANT KING, MACISTE ALLA CORTE DELLO ZAR
Article 1946 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-13-2006
Posting Date: 12-10-2006
Directed by Tanio Boccia
Featuring Kirk Morris, Massimo Serato, Ombretta Colli
Nicolas the Czar is a mean ol’ tyrant who oppresses his subjects, but not if our three-named hero Atlas/Samson/Maciste has anything to say about it!
Some thoughts on ATLAS AGAINST THE CZAR.
1) The Italian title of this movie roughly translates into MACISTE IN THE COURT OF THE CZAR. Given the other two titles are ATLAS AGAINST THE CZAR and SAMSON VS. THE GIANT KING, I can only be grateful to a resource like IMDB that helps me keep these movies straight.
2) And while we’re on the subject, where does our hero get off having three names? I think he’s trying to monopolize the market. It’s not really fair, not while Clint Eastwood has to play a man with no name and America has to sing about “A Horse with No Name”. He may be a loinclothed hero, but I really think Samson/Atlas/Maciste might find it in his heart to share some of his names with those less fortunate, don’t you?
3) And to further compound matters, he can’t even remember his name when he appears, despite the fact that the opening titles tell us that he is “Atlas, who is now named Machiste”. If you have three names, you should be able to remember at least one of them.
4) Note to proofreaders – there’s no “H’ in Maciste.
5) I’ve speculated in the past on Maciste’s strange knack for appearing in widely divergent time zones. Filmmakers didn’t flinch when they had him appear in thirteenth century China (in HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS, (and don’t get me started on this fourth name) or in seventeenth century Scotland (in THE WITCH’S CURSE), but having him appear in nineteenth century Russia must have given them pause; they spend the first third of the movie setting up a scenario for having him appear in this time period, which involves suspended animation. They never do figure out why it is he speaks Russian like a native, though.
7) So how do nineteenth-century archaelogists revive Maciste out of his slumber? They rub oil on his chest. Now you know why these big sword-and-sandal heroes look so slick.
8) Of course, once he’s revived, it’s the usual sword-and-sandal shenanigans. Maciste lifts up big rocks and throws them, etc. etc. One item of note; Maciste is dressed in a loincloth while the rest of the cast is dressed in Russian garbs, such as long coats and furs. Either one member of the cast was freezing during the shooting of this movie, or the rest of the cast was sweating bullets.
9) The biggest surprises in this movie come near the end. Instead of the main villain dying in a last bit of treachery, he lives so that Maciste can turn him over to his former subjects so they can punish him. And when the time comes for him to leave the woman he’s found so that he can help people in other lands, he changes his mind and takes her with him. These breaks from sword-and-sandal tradition would be interesting if the rest of the movie wasn’t so hackneyed.
10) There are no evil queens in this movie.