The story of Helen's flight from the vengeance of the Greeks following the Trojan War, in the company of her loyal protector Arion. She falls into the hands of the pharaoh Ramses, who sits on the throne of Thebes.
A deposed prince arrives in a city ruled over by a cult that worships an evil monster as a god. He becomes a gladiator and his feats in the arena earn him a place on the queen's royal guard... See full summary »
Based on the Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel. Set in the shadows of Mt. Vesuvius just before its famous eruption, the film begins with Glaucus, a Roman legionnaire, returning to his home from ... See full summary »
I had missed out on a chance to watch this on the big screen during the B-movie retrospective at the 2004 Venice Film Festival; with hindsight, I feel that it's a picture that should be viewed in theaters as the TV screen simply can't do justice to its spectacular widescreen photography! As a matter of fact, of all the peplums I've been watching of late, this has probably been afforded the highest budget; it's certainly the most handsome production of the lot...
I had watched two other films about the famous and lengthy Trojan War - Robert Wise's HELEN OF TROY (1955) and Wolfgang Petersen's TROY (2004), a Maltese co-production that was filmed (for the most part) over here - but this Italian version more than holds its own when set up against them! Steve Reeves has perhaps his most substantial role (apart from that of Hercules, which made his name) and, despite his notable physique (which is put to the test against legendary Greek hero Achilles), his character is a peace-loving man and certainly more thoughtful than usual for him. His wife (Paris' sister, whom he married in secret) is played by lovely French actress Juliette Mayniel - who had earlier movingly played one of the victims in Georges Franju's seminal horror masterpiece EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1959); interestingly, director Giorgio Ferroni had just made a good variant on that film called MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN (1960)!
Understandably, the narrative only tackles the last year of the war, so that Hector (perhaps the strongest figure in TROY) is already dead when the film opens; similarly, the relationship between Paris (actually presented as the villain of the piece, if still basically wimpish) and Helen (whose role is pretty much left in the background) has deteriorated considerably - which only serves to give the senselessness of the unending carnage added poignancy! At the forefront of the plot are two other historical figures: in fact, Achilles is so impressively personified by Euro-Cult regular Arturo Dominici (best known as Javutich, Barbara Steele's powerful and devoted acolyte in Mario Bava's BLACK Sunday ) that the film loses some steam once he is famously dispatched by an arrow in his heel; similarly, John Drew Barrymore (as Ulysses) is a dominant personality during the film's first half but, once the Trojan Horse is constructed (conveniently off-screen), he pretty much disappears from the narrative! The same fate, alas, befalls the characters of Priam, Menelaus and Agamemnon; all of these roles would receive a lot more stature in TROY, and also the luxury of such stalwart performers as Peter O'Toole, Brendan Gleeson and Brian Cox respectively! Another regrettable element in the film is the fact that every soldier that is felled bursts out into exaggerated wailings and screams, which renders the otherwise efficiently-handled battle scenes unintentionally amusing!
So, while the film does sag a bit during its last lap, the scenes depicting the destruction of Troy by the wily Greeks and the subsequent flight of the survivors (including Reeves and his new-born child, Mayniel's character having died giving birth to it!) are certainly worth waiting for - though obviously done on a lesser scale than would be the case in TROY - and the film, as a whole, still emerges as one of the best peplums out there...
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