29 October 2008 | dinky-4
Peplum recipe: take standard ingredients, mix, serve
Using the traditional sword-and-sandal plot about the muscular hero freeing a populace from the tyranny of a beautiful but predatory queen, "Triumph" proceeds in a predictable manner which may please those who are undemanding and who expect no surprises. As usual the hero must pass a "Test of Strength" involving being pulled between two teams of horses, (a la Steve Reeves in "Goliath and the Barbarians"), and as usual the hero becomes the slave of the queen, (who lusts for his body), after she enchants him with a bit of magic. As usual, there's a "good girl" who also desires the hero and whose virtues stand in stark contrast to the queen's faults.
"Triumph" benefits from the presence of 23-year-old Kirk Morris who has all the required musculature but who possesses a youthful, almost boyish quality which sets him apart from the likes of Steve Reeves, Gordon Scott, Dan Vadis, etc. Unfortunately, "Triumph" doesn't find a way to effectively exploit this quality in Morris -- who's admittedly no great actor -- and it badly miscasts the part of the "good girl." She's played by Cathia Caro who's simply too old, too dark, and too heavy to serve as a proper counterpoint to the wicked queen. As the queen, Liuba Bodina is no more than adequate.
In terms of the plot, "Triumph" stumbles when it sets up a revolt which will dethrone the queen in favor of the rightful ruler, Prince Iram, but then this revolt is skimmed over in favor of a climax which has the hero, (called "Maciste"), entering a volcano in order to rescue his about-to-be-sacrificed love interest. This climax mixes in footage from Morris's "The Witch's Curse," including a scene in which he wrestles a lion and a scene in which he pushes through a wall of flame, which explains why he mysteriously changes back and forth from a light-colored peplum and a dark-colored loincloth.
Alas, available prints of "Triumph" suffer from severely washed-out color, but Kirk Morris's bare chest still shines through and by the end of the movie, its sweat-gleaming skin and well-formed nipples -- constantly on display -- will almost seem like old friends.