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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
Director of photography Mario Bava was called to step in as director (uncredited) to finish the film, as Jacques Tourneur did not wish to extend his ten month contract. Galatea Film decided to reward Bava by giving him a chance to develop his own project as a solo director, Black Sunday (1960). See more »
THE GIANT OF MARATHON (Jacques Tourneur, Bruno Vailati and, uncredited, Mario Bava, 1959) **1/2
A momentous collaboration between two (past and future) masters of the horror genre which should perhaps have been made in that particular field, especially since the overall effect (as with most Italian low-grade epics) is somewhat juvenile - unlike either's best work - but also because there are no monsters involved (unlike, say, THE GIANTS OF THESSALY )!
Steve Reeves and Sergio Fantoni make for an above-average hero and villain; Daniela Rocca fares a lot better here than she would do in COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN (1960); and Mylene Demongeot is one of the loveliest heroines in all peplums, evoking memories of the early Brigitte Bardot - who had herself appeared in a supporting role in HELEN OF TROY (1955), one of many film versions centering around another legendary Greek battle (among them THE Trojan HORSE , starring Reeves himself and which I watched later on in my peplum marathon!).
The slow-starting film (which, thankfully, features no intrusive comic relief) eventually picks up with the impressive battle sequence, which occupies about half its length! Bava's camera-work is exemplary and his special effects are apparent in the over-the-top violence, particularly towards the end.
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