Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

ULYSSES (1954)

ULYSSES (aka Ulisse/1954). Director: Mario Camerini.

"There's part of me that's always homesick for the unknown."

Penelope (Silvana Mangano) rebuffs a horde of boorish suitors while she waits for Ulysses (Kirk Douglas) to come home to her, unaware that he has his hands full with bewitching sirens, the cyclops Polyphemus, and Circe, a temptress who has made herself look just like Penelope (also played by Mangano). Anthony Quinn is cast as the most bold and virile of Penelope's suitors. This is a fair-to-middling version of Homer's great epic, including many of the incidents of the story without being completely faithful to its source material. The special effects are definitely low-tech, but Douglas -- who looks great in his beard -- gives a fine performance, and Mangano and Quinn are also creditable. Ulysses manages to put the cyclops to sleep by giving him -- grape juice? [It takes some time for crushed grapes to turn into wine.]

Verdict: Not especially memorable as adventure or fantasy, but not devoid of interest. **1/2.

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