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Gianna Maria Canale
This classical peplum tells a fictitious story set in 490 BC, the time of the Medic Wars during which Persian armies sweep the Ancient world. Having brought home to Athens the Olympic victor's laurel crown, Philippides joins as commander the Sacred Guard, which is expected to defend the city-state's liberty, a year after the chasing of the tyrant Hippias. Athenian supporters of Hippias conspire, hoping to side Philippides by marriage to Theocrites' expensive servant Charis, and thus neutralize the guard. She fails to seduce him, as his heart is already taken by a young girl before the learns her name is Andromeda, daughter of Creuso. Everything personal is likely to be put on hold when the news breaks that the Persian King of kings Darius's vast army is marching on Greece, hoping its internal division will make its conquest a walk-over. Theocrites reproaches Miltiades to hold back the sacred guard to defend the Pallas temple after a likely defeat, and proposes instead to negotiate ... Written by
Giant Of Marathon is a cut above the peplum films of the Italian cinema, being directed by Jacques Tourneur. The film concerns the activities of one Phillipides, played by Steve Reeves who goes running around all of Greece as an ancient Paul Revere arousing the populace with the sum and substance cry of 'The Persians Are Coming'. Indeed they were.
The ancient histories beginning with Herodotus tell of the athlete/runner who brought news of the Greek victory and then promptly died as his body gave out. Here Tourneur opted for a happy ending, but the film is still good with some very nicely staged battle scenes.
Phillipides was probably the first celebrity athlete in the history of the world. As the winner of one of those original Olympic games he was a sports celebrity figure back in those ancient times. And because of that he's the guy sent on a diplomatic mission to Sparta to get those rival city states working together to beat back the Persians.
Of course Phillipides does just that, but Athens is facing some problems from what would later be called fifth columnists in the city. Phillipides has to deal with them as well.
Steve Reeves as athlete is not shown as a runner, he's shown heaving a discus which would be more in line with the kind of a support his upper body would be an asset for. In fact as a runner all that weight on top would be quite the liability. But he sure looked good.
Giant Of Marathon would not be considered a great film in most quarters. But it is Citizen Kane next to some of the peplum films I've been viewing lately.
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