After the battle at Marathon against the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars Phillippides (Steve Reeves) races from Marathon to Athens to deliver the news that the Persians have been beaten. Phillippides then wins the Olympics for Athens. Now considered a hero he is designated commander of the Sacred Guard.

Phillippides meets the beautiful Andromeda (Mylene Demongeot), daughter of Creuso (Ivo Garrani) but does not know her name. He falls in love with her at first sight. Andromeda falls in love with Phillippides but she is engaged to Theocritus (Sergio Fantoni). Theocritus is an evil traitor who tries to lure Phillippides to side with Athens’ former ruler Hippias by having his servant Charis (Daniela Rocca) try to seduce him but Phillippides is not buying. When Theocritus realizes that Phillippides is in love with Andromeda he then tries to use her to sway him. Phillippides believes that Andromeda is in on the plot so he goes back home to his farm and tries to forget her.

When word comes that King Darius (Roger Treville) is going to invade Athens Phillippides returns to Athens. While Theocritus tries to get everyone to negotiate with the Persian forces and talk surrender others believe they need to fight. Problem is there are not enough troops to handle the job.

Phillippides is sent to Sparta to try to convince them to join Athens since once Darius is done with Athens he will move on to Sparta. Theocritus sends his minions to kill Phillippides before he gets to Sparta. Phillippides is ambushed but is able to kill his attackers and makes it to Sparta. Sparta and Athens have had some problems in the past and there is mistrust between the two city states. Phillippides manages to convince Sparta that it is in their best interest to join with Athens against the Persians.

When the battle begins Athens is outnumbered by King Darius and the Persian Army. All they can do it to try to hold out and hope that Phillippides is able to not only convince Sparta to join the battle but to get there in time to hopefully win the war. In the meantime Theocritus has plans to undermine Athens in other ways.

“The Giant of Marathon” was released in 1959 and was directed by Jacques Tourneur, Bruno Vailati and Mario Bava.

The movie starts out pretty boring. The love story portion was like a soap opera. Phillippides loves Andromeda but she is betrothed to Theocritus. Theocritus doesn’t love anybody but he uses Charis to try to seduce Phillippides. Charis loves Phillippides and so does Andromeda but Theocritus turned Phillippides away from Andromeda. It’s the old boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy goes to war against the Persians story. It’s not until Phillippides heads off to convince the city state of Sparta to join Athens against the Persians that things start to get interesting.

The battle scenes are full of action and actually a little gory in spots. I have no idea how many horses got injured during this movie but I suspect quite a few. If you can get through the love story sub-plot, and a running montage that went a little longer than it needed to, you will see a lot of interesting and different conflicts between the Athenians and the Persians. There is even some good underwater action. Altogether the movie was half good and half bad. The battle scenes did a pretty good job of making up for the first forty minutes or so of the movie.

The film itself could use a little restoration. Occasionally the color is a little inconsistent but most of the time it’s decent. The only copies I’ve seen were old television prints.

Steve Reeves was a bodybuilder that tried his hand at acting. Although not at first gifted in that department he was gifted in having a physique that was perfect for sword and sandal films. He did at least a dozen of these movies. “The Giant of Marathon” was one he did in the middle of his heyday as a he-man hero type. His acting skills were better in some movies more than others.

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