Sunday, November 23, 2014

Movie Review: The Giant of Marathon

The Giant of Marathon (La battaglia di Maratona) 
Starring: Steve Reeves, Mylène Demongeot, Sergio Fantoni, Alberto Lupo, Daniele Vargas, Gianni Loti, Miranda Campa, Philippe Hersent, Anita Todesco, Ivo Garrani, Daniela Rocca, Sergio Ciani, Franco Fantasia, Carlo Lombardi, Ignazio Balsamo, Gian Paolo Rosmino, Walter Grant, Maria Grazia Sandri, Gérard Herter, Rinaldo Zamperla 
Directors: Jacques Tourneur, Mario Bava
Titanus, Galatea Film, Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France, Societé Cinématographique Lyre, Italy, France, 1959. 
The Giant of Marathon title
This movie is published as a part of Warriors 50 movie pack box published by Mill Creek Entertainment.

The story is set in 490 BC. Philippides (Steve Reeves) wins the Olympic games. The Greece is divided with strife of Athens and Sparta. Persian king Darius (Daniele Vargas) wants to conquer Greece. It should be mentioned that Darius was father of Xerxes, whose army fought King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans in Thermopylae in 480 BC. Former peasant Philippides is appointed as the custodian of liberty of Athens in the Sacred Guard. Tyrant Hippias (Gérard Herter) has been kicked out of the city a year ago and now Athens is a democracy. Teocritus (Sergio Fantoni) seems a bit scornful about Philippides new status. 
Ancient Athens
Ancient Athens
Steve Reeves
Sergio Fantoni and Ivo Carrani
Teocritus and Creuso
Andromeda (Mylène Demongeot) reads about Trojan war. She is daughter of Creuso (Ivo Garrani). Creuso has promised Andromeda to be the future wife of Teocritus, but Andromeda hesitates. Teocritus schemes against Philippides and plans to control the Sacred Guard. He is also friend of exiled Hippias. Creuso opposes any plan that would involve resorting to bloodshed. 
Mylène Demongeot
Philippides helps Andromeda get her ball out of a tree by shaking it. Her friends arrange them a meeting at the temple. However Teocritus sets a trap for Philippides. Teocritus plans to extort Philippides with help of seductress Karis (Daniela Rocca). Karis offers Philippides dinner, dance performances and a wrestling match. Philippides wants to leave. A wrestler does not want him to leave so Philippides has to give him a farewell hug. Philippides arrives late to the temple. Karis does not want Philippides to get hurt, but Teocritus threatens to kill Karis if she does not manage to seduce Philippides. 
Steve Reeves and Daniela Rocca
Philippides and Karis watch the show
Daniela Rocca
Philippides gives thug a hug
Philippides is a friend of Miltiades (Alberto Lupo). Philippides is a pacifist so he does not want to use weapons. His friend Miltiades trains him to use sword to protect liberties. Philippides sees Andromeda's chariot and runs after her. Andromeda tells that she has been promised to an another man. Disappointed Philippides goes to Karis. Karis says she loves him, but Phil thinks that she is using him. Creuso invites Phil to his house. Surprised Phil meets Andromeda there. Creuso has to leave for a council meeting, because the Persians are advancing guided by traitor Hippias. Teocritus says that Phil may marry Andromeda if the Sacred Guards help Teocritus in his cause. Teocritus lies that Andromeda knows about the plan. Phil is not for sale so he gets angry and leaves. 
Alberto Lupo
Fed up with the corruption, Phil leaves the city and goes back to plow the land. Miltiades brings greetings from Karis. Phil is not interested. The Persians advance to Marathon and Philippides must return to Athens. The politicians are debating on the countermeasures. The army of Athens is weak. The others suggest that "If we may not live in freedom, then we will die for freedom." Teocritus laughs at the battle plans and suggests surrendering. Miltiades suggests getting help from Sparta. The most trusted man in Athens is Philippides so he is sent to negotiate with the Spartans. Teocritus sends assassins after him. Philippides goes to say farewell to Karis, which disappoints Andromeda. Creuso realises that Teocritus is a liar. 
Gérard Herter and Daniele Vargas
Hippias and King Darius
The politicians negotiate
Karis tells Andromeda that Philippides loves Andromeda. The assassins attack Phil, but luckily Miltiades trained him well to use weapons. The sole surviving assassin returns to Teocritus. Teocritus kills him and kidnaps Karis. In Sparta the priests forbid the Spartans to join the battle before new moon rises. Euros (Sergio Ciani) wants to fight before the Persians conquer the whole Greece. Euros trusts Philippides although Athens and Sparta are enemies. 
This is Sparta
Sergio Ciani
Euros trusts Philippides
Darius uses psychological warfare and uses catapult to shoot skulls in front of the Athenian Army. The Athens is losing when Philippides returns alone. Philippides uses some boulders against Persian troops. Teocritus goes to Hippias to plan a surprise fleet attack on Athens from Piraeus. Karis tries to escape but is shot with an arrow by Teocritus. She manages to go to Philippides and tell about tell about the treachery before she dies. 
The Athenian Army
Philippides leaves to defend Athens with the Sacred Guard. Philippides has to do lots of swimming and running to get to Athens. Teocritus kidnaps Andromeda and tries to force Creuso to convince the council to surrender. Creuso is badly wounded and he asks Philippides to save Andromeda. The Sacred Guards plan an underwater defense. Also other athletic skills come in use. Teocritus attacks with his ship. Andromeda is tied to the bow of the ship. The ship has a jaw mechanism for crushing enemy ships. Sacred guards board the ship and fight Persian troops. Philippides duels with Teocritus and saves Andromeda.
Persian Fleet
Sergio Fantoni and Mylène Demongeot
Teocritus has taken Andromeda as hostage
Mylène Demongeot
Andromeda as figurehead
However Philippides believes that they are losing the battle. Luckily the Spartan Army arrives to save Athens. In the end Philippides turns his sword into plowshare and returns to cultivate the land with Andromeda.
Final battle
Peaceful end
The movie is a good mix of intrigue, romance and action. Battle scenes are epic and with Mario Bava being aboard.  The combat is also a bit bloodier than in the usual peplum movies of the 50s. There are great naval and underwater scenes. It is funny to see peplum stars Steve Reeves and Sergio Ciani (aka Alan Steel) without beards. Also the ladies fit the movie well with Mylène Demongeot being the good girl and Daniela Rocca the bad (but not bad at heart) girl. The Olympic games theme is nicely tied to the story. The history is adapted very freely. In original historical story Philippides or Pheidippides was the soldier who run first 240 km from Athens to Sparta and then 40 km from Marathon to Athens to bring news of a victory against the Persian army. After that he died of over-exhaustion. He was later the inspiration for the marathon running events.

Rating: Very good

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest! (All comments are moderated before publishing so please be patient!)

Recommendations by Engageya