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
Passed by the British Board of Film Censors with a "U" certificate on 27 June 1960. Premiered at the Leicester Square Theatre in London on 13 October 1960 where it ran a modest two weeks. The general release at normal prices followed on 30 October 1960. After a few matinee showings in the mid-1960s the film vanished until it was revived at the National Film Theatre on 9 December 1978 as part of their Epic Film Festival. Another revival was at King's Cross Scala's The Other Cinema on 19 March 1983 as part of a Steve Reeves Festival. ITV eventually purchased the rights in 1996 and the UK television premiere on most of the ITV network was on 12 February 1996. By then, the film's fall from grace was reflected in that it went out at the far from prime viewing time of 3:35 am. ITV repeated it during 1997 and 1998, but nearly always during the middle of the night. See more »
The version now being seen in the USA was taken from the Lux (French) release version. It has been modified with the main title in English (the remainder of the credits are in French) and the English dialog track. It also contains shots of graphic violence that were deleted from the original US version that was released to theatres by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1960. See more »
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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