Sword-and-Sandal Time with Debra Paget

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 31, 2019 06:29pm | Post a Comment

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show

"Oh yeah there's all kinds of things happening here boy! There's sword fighting, horse-play, and there's dancing, dancing, dancing...Holy Cats!!"
~ Commander USA introducing Princess of the Nile (1954) on his Groovie Movies TV show

Pour yourself some pomegranate wine in a clay chalice, light some botanica candles, and kick your feet Journey to the Lost Cityup as Debra Paget takes you away to romantic palaces in ancient desert lands. Some of you may remember Debra from starring in Roger Corman's Tales of Terror and The Haunted Palace (both 1963 and her last films), but it was truly the Fritz Lang Indian epic of The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb (both released in 1959) that made her famous for her snake dance scene.

*Sidenote: This reminds me of the time I left my snake charmers flute that I got in India in my car on a hot day and the resin that kept it together melted all over my seat and my car reeked for months like someone dumped bong water in it.

Take a moment to make your life better and watch this...then try to reel your tongue off the ground and back in your mouth like a cartoon wolf.

When the two films were released, theaters would show the Tiger of Eschnapur one night and then the Indian Tomb (the more exciting of the two) the next. However, Americans want their banana split right after their bowl of buffalo stew and so American International Pictures would combo the two pictures together in 1960 and re-title it as Journey to the Lost City for the U.S. audience. Even though Journey to the Lost City is a slick title and has a great poster, I say track down the two separate films sold together put out by Fantoma in 2003 and watch these exotic adventure films how they were intended.

Later in life, Debra would turn to the power of God and be involved with the Trinity Broadcasting Network and appear on Praise the Lord....but THANK GOD she gave us some amazing scantly clad temple dance scenes in her film career before that happened. Here she is striking a praying mantis pose in Princess of the Nile.

Debra Paget

Commander USA showed this film back in the mid-1980s on his Groovie Movies show. The Commander  (who had "Microwave Vision") was a childhood hero of mine and I wonder if I got some of my cornball humor from him. If you have never split your side watching him, check out the first ten minutes of this (or the whole tamale) and see a Debra belly dance scene too.

From Cecil B. DeMille's epic The Ten Commandments (1956) to the Italian-made Cleopatra's Daughter (1960), Debra Paget's eyes and sensual gyrating figure still captivate fans of sword-and-sandal films. In 1957, she would play the main squeeze in Omar Khayyam, which starred Cornel Wilde as the famous Persian astronomer and poet. The next time you are at the Madonna Inn, across from the main fireplace (which has some huge hidden dinosaur bones) are some pictures of Cornel Wilde visiting San Luis Obispo and meeting Alex Madonna. Cornel starred and directed one of my favorite movies, The Naked Prey (1965) and was also in a "made for TV" movie that scared me to pieces when I was a kid called Gargoyles (1972).

As much as I like poetry, I have never read the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, but I have watched "The Ruby Yach"t episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle from 1963 more than a few times. I mean really, who doesn't love Captain Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz?

So I encourage you to find Fritz Lang's Indian epic on DVD, throw on an Albert W. Ketelbey platter ("In a Chinese Temple Garden" is so good) and drift off to lands far away this coming weekend. And just so you know, Debra Paget is still gyrating to Jesus at 86 years old!

Relevant Tags

Kai Wada Roath (43), Cult Film (38), Film (204), Debra Paget (1), Sword & Sandal Films (2), Commander Usa (1), Roger Corman (7), Fritz Lang (6), Cecil B. Demille (2), Madonna Inn (1), Cornel Wilde (1), Omar Khayyam (1), Albert W. Ketelbey (1)