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Sunday, July 30, 2017

HELEN OF TROY (1956)

Thanks to a no-name international cast, this Sword-and-Sandal pic/ Greek Division, gets dumped in the low-budget, camp exploitation bin alongside the likes of Steve Reeves' HERCULES pics. Justly so for much of the first half, as a dubbed cast (even on their own voices) hangs back so Rossana Podestá’s Helen & Jacques Sernas’ Paris can meet-cute before high-tailing it off to Troy, showing all the heat & passion of a tv shampoo commercial. But, as you might expect of a Robert Wise pic from the time, this isn’t the whole story, as becomes apparent in the far superior second half that opens up for battle, siege and that old Wooden Horse o’ Mine. Turns out, it’s a really big show after all, with pricey talent in all positions ‘below the line’ to prove it. Not quite good enough to carry all before it, but with the complicated story immaculately run, and enough effective set pieces to make it worth sticking out. Plus, a big missed opportunity to savor since young Brigitte Bardot is on hand to steal a few scenes from her mistress as a pert handmaiden. No one’s going to think she's trying to sell shampoo!

DOUBLE-BILL: The elaborate techno-gloss of Wolfgang Petersen’s TROY/’04 doesn’t lay out the classic tale in as clean-limned a style, but the starry cast carries eye-popping glamour.

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