Homer's tale goes that after his brilliant idea of a huge wooden horse that decided the Greek's victory in the Troyan war, Ithaca's King Ulysses challenged the sea god Poseidon and he was punished to sail around for 10 years before he could get back to his island and his faithful wife Queen Penelope. During the hero's long absence many ambitious men have settled in his palace with the intention of marrying the supposedly widow Queen and rule Ithaca with her. The picture is about Ulysses's trip and all the tasks he has to go through before reaching home and, once there, how he deals with the men that are trying to take his place.
Though the film is sort of slow by the middle part of the story and perhaps a little exceeded in its running time, it doesn't lack adventure, action and entertainment. Ulysses faces the cyclops who wants to have him and his crew for lunch, survives the seducing singing of the mermaids, visits the kingdom of the dead and escapes the spell of sorceress Circe who plans to retain him for herself. Arrived at last in Ithaca after loosing all his mates, he faces the pretenders to his throne in a memorable action and fighting sequence.
"Ulysses" is pure entertainment and adventure in ancient Greece. The film is well done and easy to watch (its excess in duration apart)with a correct direction by Mario Camerini. It shows well chosen locations and carefully designed settings. Special effects are more than acceptable for 1955. But perhaps the main feature is a well selected main cast.
Kirk Douglas is the perfect choice for Ulysses and his performance is strong and convincing. Silvana Mangano renders a believable Penelope and Anthony Quinn is at his best playing the main pretender Antinoos ("the first in pride").
It could be true that this picture inspired the sword and sandals sub genre that started a bit later with Steve Reeves's "Hercules", but you can be sure that fortunately this one doesn't belong to that category.
A fine product in its genre.
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