Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Helen of Troy causes more trouble in 'Lion of Thebes'

Lion of Thebes (1964)
Starring: Yvonne Furneaux, Mark Forest, Rosalba Neri, Massimo Serato, Pierre Cressoy, and Alberto Lupo
Director: Giorgio Ferroni
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Helen, Queen of Sparta, and the lust-object by just about every male character to ever be mentioned in the Illiad and the Odyssey (Forneaux), escapes the fall of Troy with her faithful bodyguard Aryan (Forest) to safety in the Egyptian city of Thebes. But succor is not to be found, as Pharaoh Rameses (Cressoy) is dazzled by her great beauty and wants to make her his queen.

"Lion of Thebes" is one of the better examples of the "epic" boom of the Italian film industry in the 1960s. With excellent costumes, great sets, attractive cast, and a better-than-average script, it's a film that should be on the "must-see" list for anyone who likes low-fantasy movies.

The scenes with Menelaus (Alberto Lupo), Helen's one-time husband, are priceless, by the way. His "what trouble is that skank causing now?" respoonse to Aryan when he seeks him out for help are among the best moments of the film.

The biggest weaknesses of the film is that its a bit slow in getting in going, the director and/or cinematographer had no clue how to shoot the obligatory goofy dance performance at the obligatory feast of honor--we're treated to lots of views of the backs of the audiences' heads, as if a proud parent with no clue how to run a camcorder was filming their daughter's dance recital--and that once again we have a movie where a supporting actress is actually more beautiful than the one playing the legendary Helen of Troy. (Not that I wouldn't mind sharing a bed with 1960s-era Yvonne Furneaux, but I wouldn't have kicked Rosalba Neri out of it for her.)

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