1. Now, this was a great read.

    Harryhausen, Kubrick, and Kurosawa’s perfectionist natures all resulted in films where combat looked and felt real then and now. I’m still trying to figure out how you get stuntmen or actors to agree to get steamrolled by flaming logs (Spartacus) or have actual arrows shot at them by skilled archers (as in Throne of Blood).

    As for Harryhausen’s work on Jason, my take is those skeletons don’t see themselves as anything but the human warriors they died as, which is why they react when stabbed. I’m sure had he had time, Ray would have made it a point to do a shot of one of them falling, then having a “Hey… I’m NOT dead? Cool!” moment before picking up its gear and leaping back into the fray.

  2. Brian, very good essay. I wish you were around in the 1950s to coreograph the fights: maybe they’d be better! And I also wish James Cagney was cast in a sword and sandal movie only once!
    Leah, thanks for the kind comment!

  3. This is amazing. Admittedly, fights are not something I pay close attention to in films, but you’ve shown me how I can start analyzing them more closely.

    Also, loved the story at the beginning about you and Grosse Pointe Blank and your mother!

  4. I love this! I covered Demetrius and the Gladiators for the blogathon and agree totally with your assessment of the fight scenes. You put across the amazingness of Harryhausen’s work perfectly, and how Spartacus brings the audience into the story.

    (Your mom’s “as long as you finish college” line made me laugh out loud.)

    Thank you so much for contributing to the blogathon!

  5. Debbie,

    Thanks! I definitely wanted more Messalina from Demetrius: they should have let Susan Hayward loose. Also I researched the choreographer for a while without realizing he was the DANCE choreographer (mostly because I couldn’t believe those scenes were a conscious artistic choice ) and apparently he was okay working to a click track. Those were the days! All the best.

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