Giant of Marathon (1959)
Directors: Jacques Tourneur Mario Bava.
Starring: Steve Reeves (Phillipides), Mylène Demongeot (Andromeda, Creuso's daughter), Sergio Fantoni (Teocrito), Daniela Rocca (Karis), Philippe Hersent (Callimaco), Alberto Lupo (Milziade), Daniele Vargas (Dario, King of Persia), Miranda Campa (Andromeda's handmaid), Gianni Loti (Teucro), Anita Todesco (Andromeda's friend), Ivo Garrani (Creuso), Sergio Ciani (Euros).
actor Steve Reeves as Phillipides in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC)
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Phillipides is the champion of the Olympic Games. The people of Athens recently exiled the tyrant Hippius. The Athenians now appoint Phillipides and his companions of the Sacred Guard as the custodians of the liberties of the Athenians. Milziade, the commander of the military forces of Athens, proposes that Phillipides be named the commander of the Sacred Guard. The Council of Athens will be the group that decides the matter. Creuso, the beloved head citizen of Athens, is on the Council. The ambitious Teocrito congratulates Phillipides.
Creuso's daughter Andromeda reads to a group of women. Creuso arrives home with Teocrito, who likes Andromeda. Her father promised Teocrito's father that Andromed would wed Teocrito when the children were very small. Teocrito tells Creuso that they will make Phillipides one of their group. They will befriend him and Phillipides will join them. Creuso and Teocrito are still allies of the former tyrant Hippius.
Andromeda and the other women are out playing outdoor games. She throws a ball and it lands in the water of the fountain from which Phillipides is drinking. Andromeda comes to retrieve her ball and Phillippides is immediately struck by her beauty. He tells her: "You're as beautiful as a statue of a goddess." He asks her name, but she says he doesn't need to know her name because they won't be seeing each other again.
Phillipides is upset that the beautiful blonde won't give him her name, but Andromeda's good friend Diana tells Phillipides to come tonight to the temple on the road to Pareus. Andromeda will be one of the dancers in honor of Venus at the temple.
Phillipides gets ready for his journey but an older woman tells him that she has a message from a woman for him. Phillipides figures it's the blonde woman, so he follows the older woman.
A beautiful brunette named Karis is speaking with Teocrito. He tells her that he wants her to seduce Phillipides. If she does so, she can name her price. The old woman brings Phillipides to Karis, who tells him that she has prepared a feast in his honor. Phillipides says: "Thanks, but not tonight." Karis, however, does get Phillipides to watch the dancing girl perform.
At the temple Diana tells Andromedia that Phillipides will arrive soon.
Following the dancing girl, two men start beating up each other. Phillipides does not like watching it. He comments: "These men are not wrestlers, but brutes." Phillipides says he has to leave, but the winner of the fight won't let him go. So Phillipides starts fighting the man and defeats the brute. He leaves, gets on his horse and rides to the temple. But he is too late to see Andromeda.
Karis talks with Teocrito. She says Phillipides is in love with another woman. Therefore, she has decided not to see him anymore. Teocrito doesn't want to hear this and he slaps her a couple of times across the face. He says she will see him again or he will kill her.
At a fight training class, the trainer tells Phillipides that he wants him to learn how to fight with a sword. So the two practice sword fighting. Then the trainer shows Phillipides how to throw the short sword like a spear to kill one's enemy. Phillipides sees Andromeda passing not far from him in a chariot. He jumps on his horse and rides after her. When she sees him coming towards her, she drives her horses hard to get away from him. She is mad because she feels that Phillipides stood her up at the temple last night. When Phillipides stops the chariot he asks her: "Why did you run from me?" He tells Andromeda that he loves her. Andromeda replies saying that it's no use to get to know each other because her future has been decided. She tells him to just forget her. He kisses her.
Teocrito sees Phillipides and Andromeda kissing. When they stop Andromea looks a little shocked. She gets on her chariot and rides off.
Phillipides goes to see Karis and kisses her. Karis remarks that he is kissing her out of anger, not love. She then tells Phillipides that she loves him and that she needs him. Phillipides doesn't believe it. He tells Karis that it's time for him to relieve the Sacred Guard.
Creuso and Teocrito meet to plot. Hippius is soon returning with the Persian army. Andromeda comes in and her father tells her that they are having an important guest for dinner tonight. Phillipides arrives and father introduces Andromeda to him. Teocrito says that Andromeda will become his wife. News arrives that the Council is in session. Creuso leaves. Phillipides says that the Athenian fleet has been decimated and the Persians threaten to land on the shores of Greece. Andromeda leaves.
Alone with Phillipides, Teocrito says that Andromeda does not love him. In fact, Phillipides can have Andromeda, as long as Phillipides aids Teocrito and Creuso in their plans. Phillipides learns a little more about their plans and he doesn't like them. He asks if Andromeda agrees with the plans and Teocrito says yes.
Phillipides starts to leave. Andromeda stops him and tells him that she loves him, but he angrily tells her: "I'll have no part of your scheme." Andromeda feels crushed by this rejection.
Phillipides goes back home. He is a bit depressed about not being with Andromeda. Milziade comes to speak with Phillipides. Phillipides is anxious to know what's the news in Athens? Milziade says that they have new public baths in Athens. He also tells Phillipides that Karis misses him. Milziade asks Phillipides to come back to Athens. The Sacred Guard needs him. Just then a messenger arrives and says that the Persian forces have landed on the plains of Marathon. Milziade has to return to Athens immediately.
The Persians are landing their forces on the beaches. Hippius is with King Darius of Persia. The cavalry now pours onto the beaches of Greece.
The Athenians talk about the Persians being just a few miles away from them. Creuso urges surrender because their forces are numbered 6 to 1 by the Persians. Milziade arrives. Teocrito asks Milziade why hasn't he recruited the Sacred Guard into his forces? Milziade says the Guard is needed to guard the temple.
Andromeda tries to talk with Phillipides, but she is discouraged from this by Phillipides's scowling face.
Teocrito and Creuso now both urge the Council to surrender to Darius. Milziade disagrees and says he thinks Sparta will help them. He tells Phillipides that the Spartans would believe what he told them. So he tells Phillipides to go to Sparta and tell them that the Athenians will be facing the mighty Persian army all alone. Phillipides says that they will meet at Marathon and rides off.
Phillipides passes close by the home of Andromeda. She sees Phillipides, but she also sees Karis arriving in her chariot. Andromeda then sees Karis kiss Phillipides. She gets upset and cries. Her father finds her crying and he suddenly realizes that Andromeda really loves Phillipides. Andromeda tells her father that Phillipides hates her. Dad says that Teocrito is no good anyway. He is a liar. The Athenians doe not love Hippius as he said.
Andromeda goes to speak with Karis. She asks Karis to protect Phillipides from Teocrito. Karis tells Andromeda that Phillipides loves her (Andromeda). This brightens Andromeda's spirits. Andromeda now leaves.
Phillipides rides toward Sparta. Along the way Horace, the brute that Phillipides had to defeat to leave the home of Karis, is being a lookout and he sees Phillipides coming on his horse. He gives the signal to three other men and they get ready to ambush Phillipides. Two of the men are archers and they fire their arrows at Phillipides. Down goes his horse and Phillipides along with it. The would-be assassins now run at Phillipides, who knocks one guy down and out, stabs another and then spears another man. When Horacesrushes up to kill him, Phillipides throws his short sword right into Horace's gut. Horace now falls from his horse. Phillipides continues his journey. Horace, still alive, gets up and gets on his horse.
Horace arrives at Teocrito's place. He tells Teocrito that Phillipides got away. Teocrito tells another man to kill Horace and the man does so.
Teocrito forces Karis to go with him to the camp of Darius, even though Karis told him she didn't want to go.
Phillipides arrives in Sparta. He tells them of the plight of Athens, but the Spartans say they cannot fight until before the new moon has risen. Their priest forbids it. And why should they trust Phillipides? Spartan leader Uros says he will vouch for Phillipides.
The Persians are ready to fight. Their soldiers pour out onto the plains of Marathon. There they gather together and rush the Athenian soldiers. Milziade tells his staff to wait to see what their plans are. Suddenly the Persian cavalry rides past the Persian soldiers. Athenian archers take out quite a few of the cavalrymen. The horses and men crash into the wall of shields and spears of the Athenians. After the cavalry comes the chariots to the attack. The crews of the catapults launch their stones toward the Athenian line and kill many soldiers. Soon the two armies are fighting each other hand to hand.
Phillipides on his horse arrives yelling: "Athenians hold out! Sparta is with us." He rides his horse down into the battle. A little later Phillipides goes back up on the ridge and starts rolling huge boulders down onto the Persians. The Persian have to run from the boulders.
Darius and Teocrito talk. The Persian tells the Athenian that he will give him 30 ships and the men to man them. Teocrito is to attack Athens from the rear. He also tells Teocrito that this is his last chance. Karis overhears their conversation and runs to tell the Athenians. Teocrito shoots an arrow into her back as she runs. He then tells Darius that they will meet in Athens. Karis, however, is not dead. She gets up and starts walking.
Milziade tells Phillipides that without Sparta they have no chance of victory tomorrow. Karis is brought into the camp of the Athenians. She tells Milziade and Phillipides that the Persian fleet will land at Pareus and will be led by Teocrito. She then tells Phillipides that he must save Athens. She then dies.
Phillipides will lead the Sacred Guard against Teocrito. Crossing a river with a strong current, Phillipides gets separated from his horse. He has to run the rest of the way to the temple guarded by the Sacred Guard.
The next morning Teocrito and some of his men land on shore. He tells the men staying to guard the boats that he will be back in an hour. Teocrito and his men go to Athens. They go to he house of Creuso. There Creuso talks with his daughter. She's worried about her dad's health. Teocrito and his men arrive and he demands that Creuso convince the Council to surrender to the Persians. Creuso won't do it, so Teocrito grabs Andromeda as a hostage and says if Creuso won't do it, then he will never see Andromeda again. Creuso tries to resist but Teocrito just shoves the older man to the floor.
Phillipides reaches the temple.
Teocrito and his men put Andromeda in a boat and they return to the Persian fleet.
Phillipides tells the 100 Sacred Guards that their task is to hold back the Persians landing on the shore. The Guard travels to the coast. Phillipides goes to see Andromeda, but he only finds her father in poor health. Creuso tells Phillipides that Andromeda truly loves him. He then asks Phillipides to save her from Teocrito. Back down on the shore, Phillipides has his men take giant stakes into the water to set them upright at an angle to penetrate the bottoms of the Persian ships.
The Persian fleet approaches the shore. Andromeda goes over to the side of the ship she is on. Teocrito grabs her to make sure she doesn't jump overboard. He tells her that he will make her his queen if she cooperates and, if she doesn't, he will make her his slave. Some of the Persian ships smash into the stakes and start taking on water from the holes pushed into the hulls. The men on the sinking ships have to abandon ship.
Phillipides has two ships. He hoists the sail and his ship starts moving toward the Persian fleet. He and others on the two ships light their spears and throw them onto the decks of the enemy ships.
Since Andromeda will not cooperate with Teocrito, he ties the blonde to the prow of the ship. He then rams his ship into an Athenian ship. Phillipides has his men jump into the water to attack the ships from beneath. The men carry sharpened spikes with them with which to put holes into the hulls of the Persian ships. The Persians are able to kill quite a few of the Athenians by firing arrows and throwing spears at them. With his great strength, Phillipides grabs the tillers of Teocrito's ship and breaks them.
Phillipides sees Andromeda tied to the prow. He tells his men to throw the grabbling hooks up onto the ship's railing. They do so and start climbing up onboard the ship. Phillipides and Teocrito fight with swords. Teocrito runs from him and goes to kill Andromeda. Phillipides chases after him. When he catches Teocrito, he throws him onto the spiked ramming prongs of the Persian ship. Although Teocrito has been defeated, many Persian sailors and soldiers reach the coast. Phillipides and the Guard put up a determined resistance against the Persians. Phillipides fights hard to protect Andromeda from the Persians trying to get at her.
In the nick of time, the cavalry of Sparta arrives. They pour onto the beach and chase the Persians back into the sea. They are able to kill most of the enemy before they get back to their ships.
Phillipides and Andromeda are finally together and Athens is saved from the Persians.
I finally decided to include some Steve Reeves films. Steve is handsome, but not that great of an actor (but the script is not that great either). The film was better than I thought. A lot of it is fiction, but there's enough history to get one interested in reading further on the Persian-Greek Wars. Color quality of the film is poor, but the movie is still watchable.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
See The 300 Spartans (1962) -- Greeks stand against the Persians at Thermopylae
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