Thursday, August 14, 2008


Here's the situation on the island of Rhodes in 280 BC: a giant statue, the Colossus of the title, has just been built in honor of King Serse. It looks like a welcoming figure, but it is actually a huge weapon, capable of shooting molten lead, liquid fire, or catapulted rocks against anyone trying to enter (or leave) the island's main harbor. Serse is a despot, looking to ally himself with some Phoenicians out to plunder passing Greek ships, but two different groups are planning to overthrow the king: a group of Rhodian rebels led by the hot blond hunk Peliocles (Georges Marchal), and a group of Phoenician soldiers led by the King's traitorous assistant Thar (Conrado Sanmartin). Meanwhile, Greek soldier Dario (Rory Calhoun), who came to Rhodes for a vacation with his uncle, winds up in the thick of both plots.

As a cross between an Italian Hercules film and a Hollywood Biblical epic, this is fairly satisfying. It's directed by spaghetti Western king Sergio Leone and uses the widescreen process very nicely--it's called "SuperTotalScope," so you know it's got to be super *and* total (why they couldn't get the word "ultimate" in there somewhere is beyond me.) The Colossus was real, one of the Seven Wonders, but the story here is total fiction. Those who like sword and sandal epics for the sweaty muscled men who get even sweatier when being tortured will love this film, as will those who like Byzantine plots involving bad kings, studly heroes, and the lovely and improbably modern-looking women who love the heroes. Calhoun is not very good--his range consists of smirking or looking quizzical--but he's actually better than most of the musclemen who starred in the Italian hero films of the era (Reg Park, Alan Steele, etc.). The lovely Lea Massari, best known as the girl who vanishes in Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA, is good as the femme fatale who leads Calhoun on a wild goose chase through some creepy secret passages in the King's castle. The best scenes involve the Colossus, especially a fight on the shoulder of the giant structure, and the climactic storm and earthquake don't disappoint. This is another movie from the Warners Camp Classics set, and though it doesn't strike me as campy at all, it is fun to watch. [DVD]

No comments: