UlyssesDirector: Mario Camerini
Mario Camerini's Ulysses occupies a unique place in cinematic history. Although superficially a European knock-off of the kind of costume adventures that Hollywood had flirted with during the late '40s and early '50s, it has several attributes that put it above any of the European sword-and-sandal films that followed later in the 1950s, starting with Kirk Douglas in the title role. If any Hollywood actor was born to play the bold, powerful, clever king and warrior, it was Douglas. Silvana Mangano and Anthony Quinn also acquit themselves well in the roles of Penelope and Antinous, respectively. The photography by Hal Rosson is also outstanding, and the story is told as well as it possibly could have been in the context of the time in which it was made. The disc looks as good as any small-screen presentation that the movie has ever received. Mastered cleanly and in rich color with lots of detail, and with a clean (if somewhat low-level) soundtrack, this is a good account of the movie -- the flesh tones are radiant and the details fully visible in the arms and armor used in various scenes. The scenes involving the one-eyed giant Polyphemus are done about as well as can be expected in the absence of good stop-motion special effects and within the limits of the photographic technology of the time. The film has been treated fairly well, although eight chapters for a 104-minute film is a bit skimpy. The film has had a fairly wide-ranging distribution history, originally issued by Paramount, then picked up by Warner Bros., and lately in the hands of Fox-Lorber. Considering how good it looks here, its owners have either been extremely lucky or extremely careful.
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- Fox Lorber
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Cast & Crew
|Alessandro Cicognini||Score Composer|
|Giulio Coltellacci||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Ennio de Concini||Screenwriter|
|Dino de Laurentiis||Producer|
|Franco Ferrara||Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Flavio Mogherini||Art Director|
|Harold Hal Rosson||Cinematographer|
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In 1987, my son wanted a new bedtime story. He was four years old, so I figured he was ready for Homer's Odyssey. As I finished the abridged version of the tale and tucked him under the covers, he wished he could watch it on television. The next day, I rented a VHS copy of Ulysses for a week. My son watched it every day and began acting the story out. Later, when he was in high school, we bought him his own copy of the movie. Somewhere there exists a video which he and his friends made with the cat starring as Scylla and the flushing toilet as Charybdis!
This DVD is difficult to review becasue it is a badly mutilated version of an excellent original. Filmed in 1954, Ulysses had a visual aspect of 1.66:1, one of the earliest widescreen productions to hit the silver screen. This was a fitting stage for an expansive legend. Yet ... and yet ... the producers of this botched DVD have seen fit to chop it down to 1.33:1. This is the phoney-baloney "full" screen, the term the uses to disguise their butchery. "Full", indeed! Just as "full" as 9 eggs to the dozen. If you want spend good money for a shoddy hacked-up product, go ahead. If you do, let me know. I have some riverside property in New Orleans you will definitely be interested in.