Colossus of Rhodes, The (1961): Sergio Leone’s Sword and Sandal Epic, Starring Rory Calhoun

Sergio Leone’s first work as a credited director, The Colossus of Rhodes is a sword and sandal epic, starring American Rory Calhoun and Italian Lea Massari (right after she appeared in Antonioni’s 1960 masterpiece, L’Avventura.

The tale is set after the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) and before the rise of the Roman Empire (27 BC), known as the Hellenistic era.

It tells the story of a war hero, who becomes involved in two plots to overthrow a tyrannical king, one by Rhodian patriots and the other by Phoenician agents.

Leone had worked before as the replacement director for The Last Days of Pompei and as a secondary director for both Ben-Hur.

Most sword-and-sandal epics of the 1950s and 1960s were set in classical Greece (Hercules, Ulysses, The Giant of Marathon), or the later Roman period (Quo Vadis? Ben-Hur).

It’s the least known of the eight films he directed, which include the Clint Eastwood’s trilogy in the 1960s, Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America.

End Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this picture (which I have not seen before) on January 10, 2019.

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