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Helen of Troy
Helen of Troy
Actors: Rossana PodestÓ, Jacques Sernas, Cedric Hardwicke, Stanley Baker, Niall MacGinnis
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2004     1hr 58min

Homer's Illiad surges to the screen in Helen Of Troy, from the '50s heyday of big-screen spectaculars. Robert Wise (Westside Story, The Sound Of Music) directs this lavish epic capturing some 30,000 people on screen at a t...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Rossana PodestÓ, Jacques Sernas, Cedric Hardwicke, Stanley Baker, Niall MacGinnis
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/27/2004
Original Release Date: 01/26/1956
Theatrical Release Date: 01/26/1956
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 58min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Helen of Hollywood's Troy
Micheal E. Corbin | Chicago, IL United States | 08/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is my favorite movie version of the story of Helen of Troy. It's more melodramatic and theatrical than the recent cable TV miniseries, but it is faster paced and has a grandeur and fascination with Greek mythology lacking in that version. At least Cassandra is Kassandra in this film - she's endowed with the gift of prophecy, yet no one believes her until it's too late. Then again, many other mythological details are sacrificed for simplicity's sake.In the role of Helen, Rossana Podesta is radiantly beautiful. She indeed has the face that could launch a thousand ships. And the Paris of Jacques Sernas is nearly as beautiful as his beloved. Their passion is believable, if a tad overblown. The rest of cast is good too, especially the Priam of Sir Cedric Hardwick, Achilles of Stanley Baker and Odysseus of Torin Thatcher. Although the Trojan War occured during Mycenaean times, most of the set designs and costumes appear to use Classical Greece as the model, and to very good effect, for it gives the movie a nobility lacking in the more recent version. It's all pure Hollywood and many liberties have been taken. The spectacular scenery, great matte work and action sequences nevertheless make for a very entertaining movie. So where's the DVD?"
Beware of Greeks Etc.
peterfromkanata | Kanata, Ontario Canada | 08/03/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I see that this 50s spectacle, "Helen of Troy", has attracted a number of favourable reviews--although a couple of these reviews seem to be as "epic' as the story in the film ! Very loosely based on Homer's "Iliad", and released on DVD no doubt to coincide with the new version of this tale in theatres,
"Troy", "Helen of Troy" remains an enjoyable experience. It has fine production values--sets, costumes, cinematography--and an experienced director in Robert Wise.

The plot is not too complicated, at least in this "Coles Notes" adaption of Homer's work. The Trojan prince, Paris, visits Greece on a peace mission and meets Helen, the wife of the Greek king, Menelaus. Paris and Helen fall for each other, and run off back to Troy. Of course, " this means war "--besides, the Greeks wanted war anyway ! The second half of the film is taken up with the siege of Troy, and there are some spectacular battle scenes here, with real people ! No digital effects in those days ! There is also a large, wooden horse--but you knew that, didn't you ?

The supporting cast is mostly British--Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Harry Andrews, Janette Scott, Niall McGuinness, Torin Thatcher, Ronald Lewis and, as a perpetually-glowering Achilles, Stanley Baker, are all solid and professional. The two leads, however, went to unknown non-Brits, and perhaps this is what interests me the most about "Helen of Troy". This must have been an expensive production--why did the lead roles not be given to big names ? The beautiful, curvaceous Italian actress, Rossana Podesta, is Helen--while not a great actress, it is not difficult to imagine grown men fighting over her ! As Paris, we have French actor, Jacques Sernas, billed of course as "Jack". While he has a striking appearance, his acting skills--at least in this film--appear to be zero. If I had Rossana Podesta throwing herself at me ( yes--I know--sweet dreams ! ), I think I would be a little more animated than Mr. Sernas. While he continued to enjoy a long career in European productions, it's easy to see why Hollywood did not come calling again ! Speaking of France, a young French actress plays Helen's handmaiden--within a year, Brigitte Bardot would become more famous than any actor in "Helen of Troy".

The colour, wide-screen DVD is gorgeous. There is also a trailer, and some black and white promotional material released at the time, featuring actor, Gig Young.

Overall, I would give "Helen of Troy" three and a half stars--it is not as grand as say " The Ten Commandments", also released in 1956--but if you like old-fashioned historical spectacles, where entertainment takes precedent over authenticity or literary merit, you will find this DVD an enjoyable addition to your collection."
Better Than OK
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 06/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"First of all, anyone who depends upon films to understand history (especially ancient history) is on a fool's errand. Moreover, both of Homer's epic poems possess a scope and depth which simply cannot be accommodated within a film with a running time of less than 15-20 hours. That said, this is a generally entertaining presentation of the basic plot: Prince Paris of Troy (Jacques Sernas) visits Sparta, falls in love with Queen Helen (Rosanna Podesta) and she with him, they return together to Troy, her outraged husband Menelaus (Nial MacGinnis) organizes an army and follows them, lays siege to the city, and eventually Troy is occupied and then obliterated. Most of the film's tension (such as it is) involves Achilles (Stanley Baker) and his adversarial relationships with Menelaus and Agamemnon (Robert Douglas) and then with Prince Hector (Harry Andrews) whom he slays in hand-to-hand combat. This is an above average spectacle, comparable with predecessors Samson and Delilah (1949) and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954). By no means a great film, nonetheless Helen of Troy (as directed by Robert Wise) offers generally solid acting throughout its cast and several memorable battle scenes without benefit of digital technologies when filmed in 1955. Yes, that's Brigitte Bardot as Andraste and Eduardo Ciannelli as Andros. And yes, I enjoyed seeing this film again, motivated to do so after seeing Wolfgang Petersen's Troy. The inclusion of various gods and goddesses in the earlier film now seems silly but the absence of a "superstar" such as Brad Pitt in one of its lead roles is (at least for me) refreshing."
Saga Of The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships
Simon Davis | 01/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Robert Wise 1956 production of "Helen of Troy", despite its many great qualities in regard to production and historical recreation could never be accused of following religiously its main literary source in Homer's Iliad. That said, by no means could it be said to detract from it still being a top flight entry in the 1950's cycle of big screen epics based around historical events. Being a passionate reader of all things to do with ancient Troy I still find this film, despite its many critics, to be first class entertainment and a wonderful introduction to both the period of the Trojan wars and especially to the great historical romance between Paris, Prince of Troy and Queen Helen of Sparta, the face that launched a thousand ships. "Helen of Troy", is a epic movie lovers delight and combines all the right elements in breathtaking on location photography, vivid colour, great set pieces and with enough battles, romance and intrigue to hold the interest. Warner Bros Studios planned "Helen of Troy", as one of their biggest releases for 1956 and continuing their battle against the encroaching power of television spent a staggering 6 million dollars on the film which shows in every frame of this truly epic production. Highly romanticised it may be in parts but it still does make a serious attempt to show both sides in the famous Trojan war and what really motivated some of the involved parties to go to war.

With such a gigantic tale as the fall of the legendary city of Troy to relate the film makers essentially had to simplify the story but the overall facts as most people know them are kept largely intact. The action begins with the handsome young Prince of Troy Paris, (Jacques "Jack" Sernas), travelling to Sparta to offer a treaty of peace with the main Greek states headed by king Menelaus ( Niall MacGinnis), and his brother Agamemnon (Robert Douglas). However on the journey his boat is wrecked in a storm and when he is washed ashore he is nursed back to health by an unknown young girl who in fact is Helen , Queen of Sparta (Rossana Podesta). At the Spartan Court Paris is amazed to be introduced to his earlier nurse who is the Queen and the pair promptly fall in love. However they come into conflict with Menelaus and when Paris is forced to flee for his life he impulsively takes Helen with him and returns to a disapproving Trojan court headed by his father King Priam (Cedric Hardwicke). Helen's abduction is an open declaration of war, but the Greek Kings joining forces to march against Troy have their own selfish motives for doing so and are largely driven by the chance to share in Troy's rich treasures. Combining with Odysseus (Torin Thatcher) and the legendary Achilles (Stanley Baker), the Greek fleet sails and lays seige to Troy. The assaults on the city are firstly repulsed however as the years of siege wear the people of Troy start to demand that Helen leave with the invaders so that they can return to their earlier prosperous life. After an abortive attempt by Helen to offer herself back to the Greeks and an unsuccessful fight to the death between Achilles and Paris' brother Hector (Harry Andrews) the Greeks hatch a scheme to fool the Trojans into believing that they have retreated . Constructing a huge hollow wooden horse and leaving it on the plain in front of Troy after they withdraw their ships the unsuspecting Trojans drag it into the city unaware that it is full of Greek soldiers who under cover of darkness climb out and open the city gates to the returning Greek army. The sack of Troy then occurs causing tragedy for the city and young lovers Paris and Helen. Helen is taken back to Sparta but the great love she has for Paris endures even after his death.

Obviously dealing with one of the greatest romances of the ancient world a film like "Helen of Troy", will undoubtedly have a high romantic content never once however does that detract from the overall action of the piece. The cast for this film contains some of the acting giants of British cinema in Sir Cedric Hardwicke excellent as King Priam, Nora Swinburne as the loving Queen Hecuba, Stanley Baker as the arrogant strong man Achilles who has only one minor weakness and especially Torin Thatcher as the wily Odysseus who is responsible for the idea of building the wooden horse which proves to be Troy's undoing. The two lead roles are played by unknowns at the time in Italian actress Rossana Podesta as Helen and french actor Jacques Sernas as Paris. Both of these young performers with their blonde good looks certainly fit the part of the young lovers however the dubbing of their voices does at times create a bit of a jarring effect. Even after the release of the recent blockbuster "Troy", Rossana Podesta and Jacques Sernas still for me are the immediate visual images that come to mind when Paris and Helen are mentioned. Production values on this epic are first rate and the recreation of the city of Troy with its Minoan style architecture and high defensive walls is one of the greatest set pieces constructed for an epic film during the 1950's. The battle sequences involving hundreds of extras and the actual sack of Troy done with no computer assistance are also first rate and the historical costumes created by Roger Furse for both the lead actors and the general military scenes are the result of a huge amount of historical research into clothing of that time. The superb production values of "Helen of Troy", are topped off with a sublime musical score courtesy of Max Steiner which I feel is one of his best for this type of film and lingers in your mind long after viewing the film.

Being an epic film lover from way back "Helen of Troy", is fairly high on my list of big budget efforts (for those times of course), that still entertain nearly 50 years after they were produced. While not totally adhering to its source material in the Iliad I view it now as an exciting action adventure romance filled with visually stunning set pieces and played with an appealing earnest quality by all that was typical of this era of filmmaking. "Helen of Troy", is old style movie making from the closing days of Hollywood's golden age and still makes memorable viewing for movie buffs and action adventure lovers alike. Enjoy.
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