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Friday, October 17, 2008

THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1961)

Sergio Leone got his first solo directing credit on this Italian swords & sandals epic, but you’ll have to squint hard to find evidence of the Spaghetti Western master soon to emerge. Rory Calhoun, of all people, is the token American marque name, and if his acting is no worse than the dubbed Italians surrounding him, at least the latter match up stylistically. The Colossus has already been erected when the film starts, but it’s no normal eight-story statue. It’s a hideout, a research lab, a prison, a dungeon, even a weapon; talk about your Seven Wonders! It’s all very silly stuff. To be fair, Leone does stage a few horse chases in Spanish landscapes that prefigure better movies to come (if only an Ennio Morricone score were in place).  And watch for a couple of spectacular shots of massed soldiers on the march, plus a few knowing visual winks at films Leone admired. But the basic story, dialogue & acting remain clunky beyond belief.

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