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The 300 Spartans 1962

Essentially true story of how Spartan king Leonidas led an extremely small army of Greek Soldiers (300 of them his personal body guards from Sparta) to hold off an invading Persian army now...

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The 300 Spartans (1962)
Genre: Adventure, Drama, History
Cast & CrewL( Diane Baker, Rudolph Maté, Geoffrey Unsworth)
Description:
Essentially true story of how Spartan king Leonidas led an extremely small army of Greek Soldiers (300 of them his personal body guards from Sparta) to hold off an invading Persian army now thought to have numbered 250,000. The actual heroism of those who stood (and ultimately died) with Leonidas helped shape the course of Western Civilization, allowing the Greek city states time to organize an army which repelled the Persians.
Set in 480 BC...
"Go, stranger, and tell the Spartans that we lie here in obedience to their laws." This is on the simple memorial at Thermopylae, marking the location of the battle that served as a great motivator for the Greeks during the Persian invasion in 480 BCE. This is a fairly simple movie too, with a modest budget. Some of the distance shots look like tourist photos. They didn't spend much money on historical research either, or for that matter whether everything going on the screen made sense. There's a number of gaffes in the stuntwork, including stubbed fingers and javelins that look like they were thrown by Aunt Martha when her arthritis was flaring up, and general scuffling instead of organized combat. A few more blunders and it could've been 'The 300 Spartans Starring Goofy'.

Greek hoplites didn't fight like rugby players in a scrum, but they did get the look basically correct, with just the main characters somewhat out of Spartan dress for visibility. A phalanx was nowhere to be seen; they could've at least acknowledged the core Greek combat formation with the Spartans practicing it or something. Ya it's a B movie.

You may think that I don't like this movie, but in that case you think wrong. In spite of the blunders and all the marching around to take up screen time, I think the flick captures the essence of the battle. The actors were enthusiastic, with Richard Egan very kingly and churning out one immortal line after another, and Ralph Richardson getting extra-bases hits as the strategizing Themistocles. One-on-one swordplay was pretty good. They did seem to read ahead in the script, though, as they sometimes talked as if they knew how they were going to fit into the history books.

Its a good swords and sandals flick. A remake of sorts may get done if they ever actually film 'Gates of Fire'; that would be a rivetting movie with a better script.

The DVD just has some trailers. Video and Audio are quite good considering the movie's age. Audio is stereo/mono The DVD gets 7.5/10 for a good restoration job.
The 300 Spartans is a historical epic, mainly with focus on battles and warfare. It is not as good as Spartacus or Ben Hur, but it is worth a watch.
1962 US Director: Rudolph Mate

Score: 7

Many of these types of films from this era were dubbed "Sword & Sandal Epics" which gives me a chuckle. I guess it's an apt description of them, it just makes me laugh. Well this particular "sword and sandal" film isn't too bad at all. The plot tells us the nice "Hollywood version" of the story of the small Spartan force of 300 men that held off the vast army of the Persian King Xerxes for several days. Their sacrifice gave the Greek city states the inspiration and time needed to band together and field a full army that would stop the Persian invasion. This movie gives us views into both camps. We see the Greek side with its divided politics and its brave Spartans whos king gives their word and keeps it, even at the cost of his life. We also see Xerxes' camp and his desire to be emperor of "the world" and to avenge the dishonor he feels the Greeks did his father. It makes for a balanced plot, seeing both side's triumphs and frustrations and motivations.

The special effects that bring the 3 day battle to life on film are pretty average for the early 1960s. They get the job done though. The soundtrack also does its job well enough. It doesn't really excel at all, but the movie is helped out by its presence. The actors are also good. Those who play Greek characters as well as those who play Persians do very well at showing the motivations of their characters. I admit that most are firmly rooted in the acting style of the age, but it works for the movie. It's fun to watch this one. I can see why Frank Miller enjoyed it and he eventually was inspired enough by it to create his graphic novel 300 and that led to the movie of the same name. This one is worth looking at.



Notes: HV Suggested Age: 8+

THE 300 SPARTANS
(RUDOLPH MATE, 1962)
NOT RATED
1 HOUR 54 MINUTES
Hasn't aged well at all. It drags, and if you are a fan of the history, you should watch it because it's much more accurate then Zack Snyder's 300, but for everyone else, it's pointless to watch.
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