I saw the Alpha Video DVD of GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON, which is from a well-preserved widescreen print, and it's dazzling to look at! To be sure, the color balance goes a bit wonky in a few outdoor scenes, but the aquamarine trees and purple skies almost seem intentional, given the strangeness of director Vittorio Cottafavi's vision. If all the old sword and sandal epics were in this good a shape, the genre would attract many more fans.
The movie itself is a delirious muscleman fantasy from start to finish. A bearded Mark Forest shows off the biggest pecs and widest lats of his generation, and melts everyone with his smile (except scar-faced Broderick Crawford as the cranky villain). The costumes are beautiful, the sets are extravagant, the exterior landscapes are a lush paradise, the monsters are huge puppets, and just when you think the story can't become more bizarre...it does! An absurdly majestic music score by Les Baxter strives to match the melodrama of a hero who dares to revolt against the gods themselves.
Cottafavi will try just about anything to dazzle and disorient the viewer. In one scene, as our hero approaches, looms above, and then passes over the camera, the point of view turns completely upside-down; the effect is so audacious I had to laugh out loud! This is fearless (and yes, perhaps sometimes mindless) film-making, and the result is truly dreamlike, if not downright mythic.
In ancient times, Emilius the Mighty nicknamed Goliath of Thebes, due to his extraordinary strength, serves the Pagan God of Vengeance and the Goddess of Four Winds. In return for his devotion, these gods reward him with Immortality during his fights against any mortals. For this, Goliath is respected and admired by friends and foes alike. However, King Eurystheus who is a Tyrant, does not believe in Goliath's immortality and plans to slay him and conquer his native land, The Kingdom of Thebes. For this purpose, Eurystheus steals the precious Blood Diamond belonging to the God of Vengeance and hides it in the Cave of Horrors where a Cerberus and a Dragon guard it. Goliath vows to return the diamond to the God of Vengeance. In Goliath's absence, Eurystheus plans to invade and conquer Thebes. If the plan to send Goliath to his death in the Cave of Horrors doesn't succeed, King Eurystheus' back-up plan is to pit Goliath against his brother Hyllus. Eurystheus intends to convince the jealous Hyllus that his girlfriend Thea secretly loves Goliath, despite the fact that Goliath is married to Dejanira. Eurystheus also plans to have Goliath poisoned by employing the services of his house slave Alcinoe. Finally, Eurystheus has no qualms about using Dejanira as a hostage against the vengeance of Goliath.
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