Fear and Desire







Atlas. Directed by Roger Corman, starring Michael Forest, 1961.

All through ninth grade, Michael Forest was my Number 2 fantasy man. (Robert Conrad was Number 1. Franco Nero was Number 3.) I knew Forest from his guest appearances on three shows: Gilligan's Island, Star Trek  (as Apollo), and Daniel Boone. He was shirtless a good bit of the time, and I was instantly smitten. I didn't realize until much later that in 1961 he had starred in a Roger Corman-directed peplum movie, Atlas, filmed in Greece in English. And I didn't realize until last week that he wrestles in said movie. Not only that, but the wrestling scene consists of grappling, not boulder-hurling, and it's the most sustained wrestling scene of any sword-and-sandal movie I've seen.

I watched the entire movie on Saturday. I suspect the movie's biggest expense was the airfares for its American cast. Half the actors sound like graduates of spokesperson school. The poster's tagline reads, "Feared by every man ... Desired by every woman!" Well, these wrestling scenes light up my womanly side. First, Atlas defeats an Aldo Ray lookalike with an airplane spin (surely called something else in the ancient world). As a reward for his victory, Atlas gets to fight this hottie  ...



First, they fight with weapons, but then they pretty much say "To hell with this shit" and commence to wrestling, proper like. The Aldo Ray lookalike was a more convincing wrestler, but it's hard to resist this princely warrior's slim smooth muscle as he writhes on top of hairy-chested Michael Forest. The kid's name is Christos Exarchos, and Atlas  is his one and only credit on IMDb. Later, there's a hint that he can be "taken" as a spoil of war, like the captive women - pretty daring for 1961.






After submitting the cute kid in a full nelson, Atlas looks up at the spectators as if there's somebody else he wants to get his hands on. The movie stinks, but I like the wrestling. Six-foot-three Forest still sharpens my xiphos!




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