Like so many other veteran Hollywood filmmakers in the 1950s, Tourneur decamped for Italy to direct this sword-and-sandal spectacular. The Herculean physique of bodybuilder turned international peplum icon Steve Reeves stars as Philippides, an ancient Greek Olympic hero who must navigate traitorous political machinations and wily seduction schemes as he leads the Athenian charge against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. Shot and partially directed by Mario Bava—who helmed the film’s striking, hallucinatory underwater fight sequences—La Battaglia di Maratona is a fascinating union between Tourneur’s understated refinement and the Italian maestro’s boldly stylized vision. Print courtesy of Cineteca di Bologna.

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