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HISTORY

The 11 Nov 1960 LAT announced an upcoming production based on the ancient Greek legend, to be produced in Italy by talent agent Sam Jaffe and movie industry veteran Samuel Marx. A deal had been recently completed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM) for financing and distribution. Although casting was to take place in Hollywood, CA, stardom was not "to take precedence over the historic appeal" of the characters. Two previous film versions were made in 1908 and 1914 (see entries). As noted in the 21 Nov 1960 DV, Jaffe and Marx opened a New York City office the following month. At the time of the article, Jaffe was in London, England, coordinating the start of production. A news item in the 2 Dec 1960 DV reported that the team consulted with the ancient history department at University of Southern California (USC) regarding costumes and architecture. The story was set in Syracuse, Sicily, in 400 B.C.
       According to the 12 Dec 1960 DV, Bantam Books was in negotiations to publish a novelization of the screenplay. Marx and screenwriter Barry Oringer, who collaborated on the scenario, would also write the book.
       Although the 23 Dec 1960 LAT reported that the producers hoped to cast James Garner and John Gavin in the title roles, they eventually agreed on Guy Williams and Don Burnett. As of 16 Jan 1961, casting was underway in London, as noted in that day's DV. The 5 Jul 1961 Var also included Tommy Garvasi in the cast. The 1 Jun 1961 DV ...

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The 11 Nov 1960 LAT announced an upcoming production based on the ancient Greek legend, to be produced in Italy by talent agent Sam Jaffe and movie industry veteran Samuel Marx. A deal had been recently completed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM) for financing and distribution. Although casting was to take place in Hollywood, CA, stardom was not "to take precedence over the historic appeal" of the characters. Two previous film versions were made in 1908 and 1914 (see entries). As noted in the 21 Nov 1960 DV, Jaffe and Marx opened a New York City office the following month. At the time of the article, Jaffe was in London, England, coordinating the start of production. A news item in the 2 Dec 1960 DV reported that the team consulted with the ancient history department at University of Southern California (USC) regarding costumes and architecture. The story was set in Syracuse, Sicily, in 400 B.C.
       According to the 12 Dec 1960 DV, Bantam Books was in negotiations to publish a novelization of the screenplay. Marx and screenwriter Barry Oringer, who collaborated on the scenario, would also write the book.
       Although the 23 Dec 1960 LAT reported that the producers hoped to cast James Garner and John Gavin in the title roles, they eventually agreed on Guy Williams and Don Burnett. As of 16 Jan 1961, casting was underway in London, as noted in that day's DV. The 5 Jul 1961 Var also included Tommy Garvasi in the cast. The 1 Jun 1961 DV announced the scheduled start of principal photography later that month at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Italy. However, production was delayed until 18 Sep 1961, as confirmed by a 6 Oct 1961 DV production chart.
       Jaffe later told the 3 Dec 1961 LAT that he had no choice but to film in Rome, as costs in the U.S. would have reached approximately $2 million, which MGM would not have approved. In Rome, he was able to make the picture for "less than half that amount," while maintaining high production values. The recent completion of photography was announced in the 15 Dec 1961 DV.
       Damon and Pythias opened 5 Sep 1962 in New York City, on a double bill with Tarzan Goes to India. Openings in Los Angeles, CA, followed on 28 Nov 1962. Reviews were lukewarm to positive. The picture also shared bills with The Savage Guns (1962, see entry) in Kansas City, MO (19 Dec 1962 Var); and It Happened at the World's Fair (1963, see entry) in Detroit, MI (5 Jun 1963 Var).
       Opened in Rome in Sep 1962 as Il tiranno di Siracusa; running time: 102 min. Alternative Italian title: Damone e Pitias. Sources conflict in crediting the role of Mereka.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Nov 1960
p. 5
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1960
p. 8
Daily Variety
12 Dec 1960
p. 10
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1961
p. 7
Daily Variety
1 Jun 1961
p. 9
Daily Variety
6 Oct 1961
p. 6
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1961
p. 15
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1962
p. 3
Daily Variety
10 Sep 1962
p. 3
Los Angeles Times
11 Nov 1960
Section B, p. 11
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1960
Section A, p. 4
Los Angeles Times
14 Sep 1961
Section B, p. 11
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 1961
Section H, p. 8
Los Angeles Times
26 Nov 1962
Section C, p. 13
Los Angeles Times
30 Nov 1962
Section C, p. 10
New York Times
5 Sep 1962
p. 42
New York Times
6 Sep 1962
p. 36
Variety
5 Jul 1961
p. 4
Variety
19 Dec 1962
p. 8
Variety
5 Jun 1963
p. 15
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Assoc dir
PRODUCERS
U.S. prod
Italian prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
U.S. vers scr
Italian vers scr
Italian vers scr
Story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Damone e Pitias
Il tiranno di Siracusa
Tyrant of Syracuse
Release Date:
5 September 1962
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 5 Sep 1962; Los Angeles opening: 28 Nov 1962
Production Date:
18 Sep--mid Dec 1961
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Duration(in mins):
99
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 400 B. C., Pythias travels from Athens to Syracuse to persuade the philosopher Arcanos to come to Athens and teach the Pythagorean theory of the brotherhood of man. Arcanos has been forced into hiding by the tyrant Dionysius the Elder, who is opposed to a doctrine that forbids violence and killing. In Syracuse, Pythias hires Damon, an adventurous outlaw, to help in the search. At first Damon betrays Pythias, but when the latter refuses to do him harm, Damon helps Arcanos escape from the Storian Guard. Arcanos and Damon reach safety, but Pythias is captured and sentenced to death. Damon then offers himself as a substitute if Dionysius will permit Pythias to pay a farewell visit to Nerissa, his pregnant wife. The tyrant accepts the proposition, although he does not intend to allow Pythias to leave. Aided by Damon's band of robbers, however, Pythias overcomes Dionysius' men and returns to Syracuse. Deeply moved by such loyalty, the citizens of Syracuse force Dionysius to spare the lives of both ...

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In 400 B. C., Pythias travels from Athens to Syracuse to persuade the philosopher Arcanos to come to Athens and teach the Pythagorean theory of the brotherhood of man. Arcanos has been forced into hiding by the tyrant Dionysius the Elder, who is opposed to a doctrine that forbids violence and killing. In Syracuse, Pythias hires Damon, an adventurous outlaw, to help in the search. At first Damon betrays Pythias, but when the latter refuses to do him harm, Damon helps Arcanos escape from the Storian Guard. Arcanos and Damon reach safety, but Pythias is captured and sentenced to death. Damon then offers himself as a substitute if Dionysius will permit Pythias to pay a farewell visit to Nerissa, his pregnant wife. The tyrant accepts the proposition, although he does not intend to allow Pythias to leave. Aided by Damon's band of robbers, however, Pythias overcomes Dionysius' men and returns to Syracuse. Deeply moved by such loyalty, the citizens of Syracuse force Dionysius to spare the lives of both men.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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