The kingdom of Nefir was forced to pay tribute each year to their conquerors, Babylon. The annual price, thirty virgins. As they are being taken away one of the maidens tries to escape. She is captured but a large and powerful man comes to her aid. The man is Goliath (Mark Forest). Reinforcements appear but Goliath dispatches most of them quickly. When more reinforcements attack two other men come to his aid and take him away. They are Xandros (Giuliano Gemma) and Alceas (Mimmo Palmara).
Xandros and Alceas take Goliath to see their mentor Evandro (Livio Lorenzon). He runs a gladiator school. Goliath tells them that he has no interest in being a gladiator. Evandro tells him that the school is a cover. They are really a rebel force that wants to break Babylon’s hold on Nefir. They explain to Goliath that since he has been away things in Nefir are much different. While he was gone the old king died in the war against Babylon. The king’s brother Pergasos (Piero Lulli) took the throne. Pergasos will not defy Babylon because he wants to keep the power he has as king.
The old king has a daughter, Regia (Jose Greci). Regia would be entitled to the throne should she marry and Pergasos would then have to abdicate. Pergasos doesn’t want to give up power. In order to marry Regia, the suitor must win a chariot race against Regia herself. No one has so far. Xandros is supposed to race against Regia but assassins sent by Pergasos wound him. Goliath takes his place. Goliath wins the race but Regia is in love with Xandros. Pergasos tries to have Goliath killed but the people revolt and take back the city. Morakeb kidnaps Regia and takes her to Babylon. Goliath and the warriors of Nefir must rescue Regia. To do that they must find a way to defeat Babylon.
“Goliath and the Sins of Babylon” AKA “Maciste, I’eroe piu grande del mondeo” or “Maciste, the World’s Greatest Hero” was released in 1963 and was directed by Michele Lupo. It is an Italian Sword and Sandal film. It was dubbed into English by American International Pictures. The hero’s name was changed in the American release from Maciste to Goliath for American audiences.
For an Italian sword and sandal film it’s really good. There are lots of decent sword fights, a sea battle, an epic battle on horseback, people being attacked by lions and leopards and even a chariot race. In addition there are a few shots of a city in flames and a memorable torture scene involving spears. What is remarkable about this film is that it not only contains all the epic sword and sandal elements but also that they are done well.
The weakest part of the film is the dubbing but that’s bad in every sword and sandal movie. The only other part of the film that I had a problem with was Arnaldo Fabrizio as the comic relief midget. I have no problem with little people in movies but using them as comic relief because they are little people is grating. It’s just not funny. Arnaldo is billed as “Goliath the Dwarf” but no one ever calls him that in the film.
Outside of the dubbing and the politically incorrect sixties the film is impressive. There’s action basically all the time. The story is decent and the cinematography is good. Mark Forest as the hero du jour is good looking and appropriately pecced. Mark was born Lou Degni. He is an American actor/bodybuilder. At one time he auditioned to play Tarzan but didn’t get the part. He was one of the bodybuilders in Mae West’s muscleman troupe in her Las Vegas show but that is another story. He once won the title of “Mr. Muscle Beach” in Venice, California. Eventually he left acting to become an Opera singer and then a voice coach. I kid you not.