July 29, 2023

HELEN OF TROY and the High Cost of Loving

1956 / 121 min
Available at www.moviezyng.com
Review by Mr. Paws😼

This is sort of an odd sword & sandal epic.

Based on Homer’s The Illiad and The Odyssey, it offers Paris, the prince of Troy, and Helen, the Queen of Sparta who falls in love with him, as the two main protagonists. If you recall your Greek mythology, you may already know things didn’t end well for them.

And as presented in Helen of Troy, Paris is willing to risk the safety of Troy just to be with his woman, even after being ostracized by everybody and condemned by his dad, King Priam. Granted, Helen’s hubby, King Melenaus, was looking for a reason to invade Troy anyway. But still, this is a pretty damn selfish guy that viewers are expected to rally behind, especially when the result is the years-long Trojan War.

But hey, this is love, right? Surely that’s worth a few thousand lives.

"You said you were bringing the arrows."
Good thing there is a war, though, because the epic battle sequences are the best part of the film, with two major clashes…the initial attack by Melenaus and his allies, then the inevitable sacking of Troy with the legendary Trojan Horse. These scenes are pretty spectacular and (considering when this was made) quite violent. That, along with impressive production design and solid direction from Robert Wise, ultimately makes Helen of Troy worth seeing.

It sure isn’t the screenplay, which is loaded with eye-rollingly melodramatic dialogue and delivered as though it were Shakespeare. The story also suffers from protagonists who aren’t nearly as interesting (or entertaining) as the bad guys. Paris and Helen are generically pretty, but neither display much personality, which is exacerbated by bland performances from Jacques Sernas & Rossana Podesta. Conversely, Niall MacGinnis and Stanley Baker are wonderfully hateful as Melenaus and Achilles (the King’s most skilled fighter). 

Obviously, Helen of Troy is intended to be an epic tragedy, but that only really works if you’re invested in its star-crossed lovers. Not only do these two fall madly in love faster than most others exchange phone numbers, all character development pretty much ends there. By the time the story reaches its inevitable conclusion, the ‘tragedy’ is decidedly unmoving (especially since their desire to be together ended up costing countless lives). Still, the action and fight sequences are top-notch and well worth checking out.


MAKING-OF FEATURETTES - 2 vintage promotional segments from the series, Warner Bros. Presents, which aired during the time Helen of Troy was being released.

“NAPOLEON BUNNY-PART” - 1956 Bugs Bunny short.

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