Goliath Against the Giants (1961)


a.k.a. - Goliath Contro I Giganti (ITA)

Brad Harris and Ferdinando Rey star in this enjoyable Peplum from director Gianfranco Parolini. RHV Italy R0 DVD.

The Film

After leading his army to victory in a five year confict, Goliath (Brad Harris) prepares to celebrate, but has to defend himself from an attack in his tent by assasins. Capturing one of them he learns that the tyrannical Burkhan (Ferdinando Rey) has usurped the throne in their home kingdom. Goliath sets sail for Beyrath but word reaches Burkhan that Goliath is on his way and he sets a trap for the hero. In the meantime Goliath's ship is wrecked by a giant monster and he and his crew are washed up on the shore a long way from home, facing a dangerous overland journey to an unwelcome reception...

The film opens rather too quickly, with no particular explanation of why the otherwise heroic Goliath is leading an invading army and the first few scenes in particular seem very rushed. Fortunately the film slows down to a more sensible pace, but in turn becomes a rather generic Peplum entry, missing out the interesting potential of having an anti-hero lead character. However the pacing is strong and the story interesting enough to keep the film entertaining and much to its credit the script avoids the usual comic relief that ruined many other genre films. The climactic battle for Beyrath makes for a good ending, but sadly the film does drag out a little afterwards for a rather unnecessary confrontanation with the titular giants that seems to exist only to give the film its title.

As with many of the Pepla, the Goliath name seems to be rather randomly used here, with no reference to the biblical character (indeed in Germany the character was renamed Hercules in Die Irrfahrten des Herkules) and its use here most likely stems from the success of Steve Reeves' Il Terrore dei Barbari (1959) which was retitled Goliath and the Barbarians in the US.

Director Guido Malatesta was replaced part way through the film by Gianfranco Parolini (credited here as the artistic director) after becoming fed up with the non-existant budget, while the second unit duties were handled by rookie Spanish director Jorge Grau. The film as a whole looks good, with the all usual genre elements - crowds of troops, classic architecture and dancing girls. The opening is of particular note, with a curious newsreel atmosphere and there are some particularly well staged gladiatoral combat and battle scenes. However the film is really let down by the monster attack on the boat; a scene so bad and so woefully filmed that it would look out of place in a genre parody - the obviously model boat rivals that of Ghost Galleon (1973) for its ineptitude and the less said about the giant model head that Goliath fights, the better. Fortuantely the soundtrack, by genre regular Carlo Innocenzi is solid, and although rather unoriginal, it fits the film just fine.

Aside from a minor, uncredited role in Spartacus (1960), Brad Harris made his film debut here - he joins the ranks of American muscleman brought in to fill the Italian film industry's insatiable demand for rippling heros and fortunately as well as looking the part, he can act and serves the film well, going on to have a lengthy career in Italian and German cinema. The respected Spanish character actor Ferdinando Rey gives a very impressive performance as Burkhan, giving him a lot more depth than the usual 'evil dictator' stereotype - with the help of some good characterisation he makes the man seem weak and afraid, overruled by his wife. In the supporting cast, genre regular Nello Pazzafini (Il colosso di Rodi (1961)) plays the head of the guard and there are two contrasting beauties in the female lead roles - the stunning blond Gloria Milland as Princess Elea, while Barbara Caroll (Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (1959)) plays the more subtly attractive redheaded Diana.

Apart from the monster and the rather drawn out ending, Goliath Against the Giants is one of the better Traditional Pepla, thanks to some solid direction and above average acting, particularly from the always reliable Ferdinando Rey and the solid Brad Harris. Recommended to genre fans.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Brad Harris - American actor who starred in several Pepla, including Sansone (1961)
Ferdinando Rey - Spanish born actor, best known for his work with Luis Bu˝uel, including Viridiana (1961)
Directed by anyone interesting? Guido Malatesta - Italian director who also worked with Harris in Formula 1 - Nell'Inferno del Grand Prix
Gianfranco Parolini - hard working director responsible for the very enjoyable Sabata (1969) and its sequels.
Who else was involved? Jorge Grau - a future director best known for zombie film Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974).
Any gore or violence ? Lots of fighting, one bloody shot.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? A solid entry that should appeal to all Peplum fans.


The DVD
Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
Generally very good looking print - strong colours, good detail and minimal grain and damage for most of the time, but several scenes are very blurry.
Audio English and Italian mono
Both sound fine
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Interview with director Gianfranco Parolini - a very animated discussion with the director about Sansone, Goliath contro i Giganti and some of his other films. Includes clips from the first two and some very interesting stories. In Italian, with English subtitles. (17 minutes) - same as included on RHV's Sansone DVD.
  • Original Italian trailer.
The DVD case has an insert with some crew notes, and a brief Goliath filmography. In Italian.
Availability Italian release. DVD Title: Goliath Contro I Giganti
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Not available elsewhere.
Cuts? The film is believed to be fully uncut. The print used is Italian language.

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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 10th October 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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