Thursday, May 26, 2022



PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*

So finally here's a sword-and-sandal that takes place back in ancient Greece-- at least insofar as "the Acropolis" is mentioned in the prologue-- but do the writers give the hero a Greek name? No, he's "Goliath," despite having no similarity to the Biblical character. In fact, not only is this Goliath (Brad Harris) not especially tall, neither are the so-called "giants" with whom he fights at the film's end. 

There are, however, a couple of reptilian monsters bookending this film, putting the story firmly in the marvelous domain. To be sure, most of the film only shows Goliath performing uncanny feats of strength, there is one problematic moment. The hero falls off a cliff and into a crevice directly under the cliff, on which his "giant" enemies are standing. Goliath then lifts the cliff straight up and knocks the big guys off like tenpins-- a feat that ought to fall into Hercules-territory.

On to the story: Goliath is the entirely mortal leader of a group of soldiers from a city called Bayrath (Beirut?) He and his soldier buddies have finished a foreign campaign and are journeying back home for the first time in five years-- but not for a good rest, because they've also learned that the rightful ruler has been overthrown by a tyrant, Bokan (Fernando Rey). On the way back, they pick up a shapely blonde lady, Elea (Gloria Milland), and Goliath finds her more than a little attractive. However, their ship is whelmed by a sea monster, and though Goliath kills the monster, the voyagers-- principally Goliath, Elea and Goliath's faithful companion Namath-- are forced to swim to the nearest land.

Meanwhile, back in Bayrath, Bokan frets about the possible return of Goliath while he's busy exploiting the people, He gets some reassurance from his main squeeze, whose name I didn't catch but who may be the same as the character IMDB calls "Diamira." Bokan makes a dire allusion to a valley of "giants" to which he's consigned other enemies-- which is the first justification of the movie's title.

The good guys, unfortunately, have ended up in the domain of a group of hostile Amazons, and they try to take the intruders prisoner. Goliath escapes with Elea. Namath almost gets away by taking one Amazon, Daina, prisoner-- but when the other warriors threaten to riddle both of them with arrows, Namath lets her go. However, Daina switches allegiances because of the youth's chivalry. She locates Goliath and Elea tells them where Namath is being held, after which Goliath and Daina leave to rescue the youth. They do so and come back to the hideout to collect Elea, but she's ghosted them, walking off on her own. 

Goliath and his two allies journey to a friendly town in their own country and learn more about Bokan's depredations. Goliath then infiltrates Bokan's court but learns to his consternation that Elea is Bokan's ally, and that she joined their expedition to spy on the heroes. However, this problem is sorted out quickly. Once Goliath gains access to Elea, he learns that Bokan fed her a false story about Goliath having killed all her relatives, when in fact Bokan done the deed. For her part she left off her spy-games because she was falling in love with the burly hero. Soldiers interrupt the conversation, and as Goliath flees he passes through the dungeon, where he kills a gorilla and keeps a spiked wheel from eviscerating one of Bokan's captives.

Elea turns on Bokan and is sentenced to execution by yet another of those spiky death-devices. Goliath rescues her, which leads to a major battle and the overthrow of Bokan. (I confess I lost track of Namath and Daina in this part.) A secondary villain abducts Elea and unwisely takes her to the Valley of the Giants, where he's slain by what look like spear-wielding cavemen. Goliath shows up and beats all the pseudo-giants, after which he and Elea must flee the second of the film's reptile monsters. They return to Bayrath and live happily ever after.

This is just a decent but unexceptional peplum, and though Brad Harris would go on to star in many Euro-films, here he shows none of his trademark charm, probably because this was his first real movie-role. 

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