Atlas (1961): Roger Corman’s Sword and Sandal Action Adventure, Starring Michael Forest and Frank Wolff

From the Vaults

Roger Corman directed Atlas, action-adventure Peplum film, starring Michael Forest and Frank Wolff, shot in Greece.

Corman’s regular writer Charles B. Griffith wanted to title the film Atlas, the Guided Muscle based on the first American intercontinental ballistic missile the SM-65 Atlas.

The hero Atlas fights against the evil king Proximates.

With the massive popularity of Hercules, Corman hoped to make a sword and sandal genre film shot in Greece instead of Italy.

Corman’s original plan was for an epic film in wide screen and color to be released on roadshow circuit by his Filmgroup organization, instead of Filmgroup’s usual black and white double features.

Corman used two actors he had made several films with, Michael Forest and Frank Wolff.

Independent producer Vion Papamichelis agreed to put up half the budget, around $40,000. Corman hired Charles Griffith, living in Tel Aviv, and gave him four weeks to write the script. Griffith went on to work as production manager, assistant director, writer and extra on the film.

Corman’s plan changed when his Greek partner did not provide the promised funds, leading him to rapidly find new American investors.

Corman was also led to believe a donation would ensure 500 Greek soldiers fully costumed and equipped as extras for his massive army. Only 50 turned up, leading Corman to change his original screenplay and use smaller group of soldiers.

Corman managed to complete his film, shot in ruins around Athens such as the Parthenon with sequences shot at UCLA with Dick Miller and Roger Corman himself as soldiers.

Corman was able to use stock footage from Universal’s Sign of the Pagan.

Despite these problems, Corman was able to complete the film for $108,000 rather than the planned $100,000 budget.

Michael Forest as Atlas
Barboura Morris as Candia
Frank Wolff as Proximates the Tyrant
Walter Maslow as Garnis
Andreas Filippides as King Telektos
Christos Exarchos as Prince Indros
Theodoros Dimitriou as Gen. Gallus
Miranda Kounelaki as Arione