Cap vs Cap

By | Monday, July 01, 2024 Leave a Comment
Here's a weird bit of seredipity I discovered over the weekend.

Back in 1983, a movie came out called Yor, The Hunter from the Future. Based on I-can-only-assume-were-a-couple-of-television-commercials, my eleven-year-old brain thought this looked like a great movie. Very much in the same vein as the Conan the Barbarian film that had come out the year before. With a LOT of pleading, and despite his protests that it looked like crap, I convinced my dad to take me to see Yor in the theater.

It was crap. Even my eleven-year-old self who was totally hyped to see this movie walked out of the theater thinking it was terrible. The plot didn't make sense, the script was even worse, the acting was wooden, the effects were bad even by early 1980s standards. Hell, the costumes were awful and most of the cast had on little more than animal skins!

What I did not realize until recently, though, is that the concept is based on an Argentinian comic called Henga el cazador by Eugenio Juan Zappietro and Juan Zanotto. As far as I can tell, it's never been translated into English. It did, however, make it over to Italy which is where director Antonio Margheriti first heard of it. My understanding, though, is that the tail end of the movie diverges a significantly from the comic, as it takes on a heavier Star Wars influence. ("Wait, Sean, I thought you said it was a Conan knock-off?" Yeah, don't ask.)

So despite having American Reb Brown in the title role of the movie, most of the cast of Yor is European. Primarily Italian. That puts Yor very much in the same production ballpark as the spaghetti Westerns that made Clint Eastwood famous. Most of the villains were played by Italian stunt men, but there were a few actors with brief speaking roles. That includes Aytekin Akkaya in the role of Ukan, leader of the "Sand People." (Though there's no real desert anywhere nearby, and these so-called Sand People are inexplictably a blue-ish/purple-ish color.)

Within the context of the movie, these Sand People are a minor set of antagonists. Honestly, from a narrative perspective, I'm not really sure why they're in the film at all. Just a way to pad out what would otherwise be an hour-long movie, I would guess. And while Akkaya is probably not a familiar name to many in the US, he was a Turkish actor that was fairly prolific throughout the 1970s and '80s in Europe. His part as Ukan is relatively minor, but he does have the "honor"(?) of fighting directly with Yor.

Why is this note-worthy?

Because in 1973, Akkaya starred in an Italian movie called 3 Dev Adam. Usually translated into English as Three Giant Men. In it, he portrays Captain America who teams up with El Santo to defeat the evil Spider-Man and his gang. (None of the characters were officially licensed and the story takes some... liberties with the characterizations.) And while that alone is interesting in that it has Akkaya cast as both the hero and the villain in movies adapted from comic books ("You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.") the next time Captain America appeared on film was in the 1979 and 1980 made-for-TV movies, portrayed by none other than Reb Brown! Dick Purcell, who portrayed Cap in the serials, died in 1944 before his Captain America serials had even been released, which means in 1983, Yor featured an on-screen battle between the only two living actors to have played the living legend!
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