If one grows impatient with this cowardly waiting for the premiere of the next Thor installment, what better way to start your weekend than a spaghetti saga? The Last Of The Vikings (1961) should be able to slake a warrior’s thirst. Starring Cameron Mitchell in the title role, the director’s credit goes to Giacomo Gentilomo, although it is widely accepted that Mario Bava came in to tighten things up and add some flair when things went over budget. Mitchell was in the prime of a long career in film and television that would span four decades, highlighted by his ‘bête noire’ Jigger Craigin character in Carousel (1956) and starring role as the suave Buck Cannon in the NBC western series High Chaparral (1967-71). A contemporary of William Shatner, in Mitchell’s dyed-blond-haired Harald one can certainly see a possible influence on Shatner’s Captain Kirk character in the original Star Trek (1966-1969), not only in his action-oriented, tribal-interactive episodes, but also in episodes requiring Kirk to subdue his ‘true’ nature for the sake of diplomacy or a deceitful plan. Even the lighting of Harald’s face seems similar to Kirk’s from the first season.
Aldo Bufi Landi (a longtime Italian action and giallo mainstay who would portray a pathologist in Dario Argento’s 1971 Four Flies On Grey Velvet ) plays Londborg, Harald’s second-in-command, in a roguish fashion (one could see a bit of the future Star Trek’s McCoy). Landi is still working today after 66 years.
The villan Sveno, as played by Edward Purdom, is completely over-the-top. Richard III meetsBlack Adder meets King Joffrey with a persistent case of eczema. Purdom briefly had been slated for great things in British cinema, playing the title role in The Egyptian, England’s biggest production of 1954. However, it was not to be, and now perhaps his greatest claim to fame is that he married the true first “Bond Girl”, Linda Christian, who played Valerie Mathis in the 1954 television production of Casino Royale.
With Bava onboard, a master of making much out of a small budget, we are treated to a lot of wildly entertaining choreographed battles, the kind of treat you just can’t quite equal in today’s digital age. Like listening to “Ride of the Valkyries” or “Immigrant Song” on vinyl as opposed to Itunes. Watch it and see how the ‘mighty’ Thor compares in a week.
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