The Giant of Marathon

Year Of Release: 1959
Running Time: 85 Minutes
DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Directed By: Jacques Tourneur, Mario Bava (completed the film)
Writing Credits: Alberto Barsanti (story), Ennio De Concini, Augusto Frassinetti, Raffaello Pacini (story), Bruno Vailati
Filming Location: Unknown

Starring: Steve Reeves, Mylène Demongeot, Sergio Fantoni, Daniela Rocca, Philippe Hersent, Alberto Lupo, Daniele Vargas, Miranda Campa, Gianni Loti, Anita Todesco, Ivo Garrani, Sergio Ciani, Franco Fantasia, Carlo Lombardi, Ignazio Balsamo, Gian Paolo Rosmino, Walter Grant

Tagline: A Giant Among Men in a Gigantic Spectacle!

Alternate Titles:
Bataille de Marathon, La (1959) (France)
Giant of Marathon (1960) (USA)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Although he was uncredited, Mario Bava had to step in to finish the making of this film. Galatea Film rewarded him for his work by allowing him to develop his own project, which he would direct. This led to the creation of La Maschera del Demonio in 1960, which was his first solo directing effort. Mylène Demongeot, who plays Andromeda in this film, was born on September 28, 1936. She began her movie career in 1953 when she appeared in Les Enfants de L'amour (The Children of Love). She is still working to this day, and in 2004 alone she's done work in three separate projects.




Cast Of Characters
Phillipides: It's Steve Reeves without the trademark beard he had in the Hercules movies. In this film he plays Athenian hero and winner of the olympic games, Phillipides. After he wins the olympics, the sacred guard ask that he be made their commander, but when he finds out that Theocrates is up to, he bails on them to become a farmer. The farming gig didn't last long obviously as the Persians were on the way and the Athenians needed him to come to their aid. He's got a couple of hot chicks after him in this film, and fortunately for him, he ended up with the cuter one.

Andromeda: She's the daughter of Creusis and an all around hot chick. She doesn't really know what Theocrates' plans are, but Theocrates convinces Phillipides that she's in on it and offers her to him if he'll go along with their plans. Phillipides shuns her after that and basically she wanders around getting in trouble and being abused through a large portion of the film.

Theocrates: This guy is a total scumbag. I guess the Latin term would be scumbagus maximus, but no matter how you spell it, he's a jerk. He's on the Athenian council and is working with an exiled ruler to bring about the downfall of Athens at the hands of the Persian king Darius. Unfortunately for Andromeda, he's also the guy she's supposed to marry. Basically, if he dropped off the face of the Earth, no one would miss him.

Karis: This little hottie who's supposed to be all that and a bag of chips is in love with Phillipides despite the fact that she knows he could never love her back because his heart belongs to Andromeda. She was originally working for Theocrates, but then her love for Phillipides turned her around and she finally turns on Theocrates and helps out the Athenians.

Miltiades: This guy was the head guy in charge of training the Sacred Guard, who I think were mainly in charge of protecting the temple of Athena. I never really got what they were supposed to be doing exactly, but I'm assuming that was their main function since they were like a separate unit from the main army. He's a good and honorable guy, unlike that scumbag Theocrates.

Darius, King of Persia: I never could get a decent screenshot of this guy, so I put in a substitute instead. See, the Persian army all wore these hats that made them look like garden gnomes, so I thought this substitute pic would be just as good as a real screenshot of the guy. He didn't really have that big of a role in the movie anyway, so it doesn't make much difference.

Creusis: This doofus is Andromeda's father. He was originally going along with Theocrates, but in the end he turned on him when Theocrates kidnapped his daughter and told him that if he didn't go along with trying to get the council to surrender to Darius, that he would kill his daughter. Well he tried to stab Theocrates and got dumped on his head for it. Still, in the end at least he managed to get off a few last words to Phillipides and straighten out the misunderstanding about his daughter. I'm still trying to figure out if that's a toupee on his head or if it's just his normal hairline receding at the corners. That's gonna bug me now.




Screen Shots

 

"Oh my darling. When I look into your eyes, I can feel the flames of love burning in the very depths of my soul. The hair on your muscled back is like grass in a meadow that I long to run through on a summer's day."

 

Jeez, is this Athens or San Francisco?

Man, I ain't never seen anyone make a face like that in my life, and if I was Theocrates, I think I'd give Phillipides pretty much anything he wanted as long as he promised to never make that face ever again.

Rule #362 of what not to do in battle: When you see a catapult rock flying at your head, don't just stand there and scrunch up your face while you take the hit. The correct method of defense in these instances is to move out of the way and let the poor schmuck behind you take the hit instead.

Hey look! You just pour the packet in the water and right before your very eyes, new life springs forth! Aren't sea monkeys amazing?




Best Quote

"We will arm everyone, and fight for an ideal common to every Athenian citizen. If we may not live in freedom, then we will die for freedom."



- The head of the Athenian council addressing the full council about the forthcoming Persian attack. - (Reviewer's Note: It was a good ideal then and even now in this day and age it's still just as relevant a statement. Funny how some things never change.)

 




Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

The Giant of Marathon
Marvel as Phillipides rolls boulders down on the heads of the Persian garden gnomes.



Summary and Conclusion

I want to start this off by saying that I absolutely love Steve Reeves. I think he's got a lot of raw talent and I really loved his Hercules movies. Unfortunately, the fact that I saw his Hercules movies before this one created a bit of a problem for me, because every time I see him in a role like this now, all I can see him as is Hercules. This movie was no exception, and in fact, I found myself actually typing the name Hercules rather than Phillipides more than once. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he plays the roles in a very similar way, the only difference being that the Phillipides character doesn't possess supernatural strength. I guess when you're playing Greek heroes, there's not much of a range of character you can bring to the part, so it's not really his fault at all. I've seen him in Ed Wood's movie Jail Bait and he was totally different. So apparently, unlike Christopher Walken, Steve Reeves does actually have an acting range.


The story is pretty simple. It's a tale of treason in which Theocrates has conspired with one of the city's exiled leaders and the Persian king Darius to convince the Athenian council that they should surrender to the invading Persian forces without a fight. Naturally this doesn't happen, and through a lot of intrigue, murder, and broken hearts, Phillipides manages to secure the support of Athens' long time enemies, the Spartans in the final battle against the Persian army.


That simplifies it quite a bit but I'm sure you get the idea. Where the "giant" part comes in, and for that matter where the "Marathon" part comes in, I have no idea. Nor do I understand why there were character names in the movie that seemed to change depending on who was pronouncing it at the time. Actually, to point out how bad this was, let me give you a little insight into how I do the character section. I get the character names from IMDB and then fill them in when I'm setting up the review. In the case of this film, I filled in the character names and then ended up changing about half of them and getting rid of a few that I never even saw in the movie. It's not that big of a deal really, because when you have a visual medium like film, you can see the characters, so even if they're called by a different name in every scene, you still know who's who. Unfortunately, from the reviewer's point of view it was kind of a pain since I had to keep changing things. I just kinda took the version of the names that I heard the most and used those.


The acting in this movie was pretty typical of the Italian sword and sandal genre, although some of the performances were actually somewhat "above the bar" so to speak. They weren't way better than you'd expect, but they were quite good for the genre. Steve Reeves always seems to be put in the same romantic situations in these sword and sandal films, where he's in love with one girl while there's another girl on the side that wants him for herself and uses various little machinations and schemes to get him. They never work, but they always serve to complicate his life and make the story a little more interesting.


The battle scenes were all quite well done and choreographed in this film, but there was one thing that bothered me a little. They beat the ever living hell out of their horses. There were a lot of horses tripped up and rolled in this film, and I know that the way it was done, they couldn't possibly have done it without injuring not only some of the horses, but some of the riders as well. The first scene that really got my attention was a scene where Phillipides was riding to the Sacred Guard to tell them of the impending attack by sea, when he was attacked and his horse took a front end dump. Whoever was on the horse, whether it be Steve Reeves or a stunt double, ended up under the horse and under the horses hooves when the horse got up and ran off. That looked exceedingly painful, and I felt sorry for not only the horse, but whoever was riding it. The other scenes that made me cringe were the ones where the Persians launched their main assault. The Athenians had dug trenches, and when the horses hit them, they piled up big time. The horses and the riders were all just rolled into one big jumble. It's another time where I know both horses and riders had to have been injured.


The DVD I used for this review came from Alpha. Alpha generally puts out a decent product when you consider that their releases can be purchased for $5.99 each from their site, and if you buy five at a time you can even get them for $5 each. Now you can't be overly picky when you're getting cool movies like this for so little money, but this particular DVD looks like it was mastered from a VHS tape and the image quality is downright horrible in some scenes. It's not unwatchable, but there's scenes where there's a lot of people shot from a distance where you can't make out a lot of individual detail. If you look at the screenshots and character shots I use in this review, you can see what the quality is like in those. Now here's the bad news. I cleaned those images quite a bit. The original quality was worse. As I said though, the DVD isn't unwatchable by any means, it's just not a high quality master done from original source material. So don't go into it expecting to see that kind of quality. I doubt very much that Steve Reeves fans will even really care about the quality as long as they can get the movie in a digital format.


Overall, this was a good film, but it was lacking in certain aspects that forced me to knock a little off the final rating. Generally, as far as sword and sandal flicks go, this was a good one. If you're a fan of Steve Reeves, you'll definitely like it, but just be aware going in that he doesn't have the trademark Hercules beard in this one, so it'll probably take you a while to adjust to that if you're used to seeing him that way. Until a better release of this movie comes along that was mastered from good source materials, this one will do. Just know what to expect going in, and you'll be ok.

B-Movie Central's Rating: 4½ Bees

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