I ran across these photos of Mark Forest in cowboy attire and wondered what was behind them. Did Mark Forest make a Euro-western or were they publicity shots in hope of extending his career after his Peplum film career ended. I asked several sources: Larry Anderson, Peplum collector supreme, William Connolly editor of Spaghetti Cinema and my friend Tom Prickett another Italian film collector. What I found out was a little of both theories.
According to an interview granted by Mark to Bill Connolly he stated: Mark Forest is telling B.C. he had tired of the same old routine and was looking for a different challenge, and possibly a chance to go in other directions. At one point he says, he was to have even done a Western. He and his writer friend George Backas with script in hand went to Italy with that in mind. The film's title was to have been called: SPUR THE DEVIL GENTLY.
Forest went on to say, the producer, Achille Piazzi, (of Piazzi Produzione, Rome, Italy, the same producer who had also produced REVENGE OF HERCULES/ GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON) loved it he said, but wanted a lot of the dialogue changed.
This didn't set well with Backas who claimed it was perfect as written. He refused to alter it there and then, so they never got to do the film Mark said. He says he told his friend, "You see George, you didn't change your script, I'm not doing the movie, and you're not selling your screenplay, so here we are." George retorted, "Well, I'll sell it." But they never did the film!
Forest also mentioned that Piazzi had him set up to do a film like VIVA ZAPATA in a priest type role. That didn't happen either he said, nor did another one called THE IRON MASK that he was supposedly all set to do as well.
Forest returned to the U.S. and then got involved in opera singing, and less and less interested in fighting with writers and producers, which he considered a hassle. Forest today at 81 is an opera singing teacher.
SPUR THE DEVIL GENTLY
A 1964 Italian production [Produzioni Cinematografica (Rome)]
Dist: SpA Cinematografica (Italy) (?)
Producer: Achille Piazzi
Story: George Backas
Screenplay: George Backas
Cinematography: ? [color]
Cast: Mark Forest (Lorenzo Degli)
[Producer Achille Piazzi was the head of SpA Cinematografica of Rome. He produced three 'Hercules' pictures from 1960 to 1962, the first of which starred 'Mark Forest', as the Olympus Man of Steel. The awkward English language title would translate into Italian something like 'Stimolare delicatamente il Diavolo' or 'Sperone il diavolo delicatamente'. Oddly Wikipedia.it has no page for Sr. Piazzi? The writer's name might be a pseudonym as their appears to be no other record of him. Michael Ferguson]