Helen of Troy (1956) Poster

Helen of Troy (1956)

  • Rate: 6.0/10 total 1,036 votes 
  • Genre: Adventure | Action | Drama | Romance | War
  • Release Date: 26 January 1956 (USA)
  • Runtime: Germany:111 min (theatrical version) | Germany:116 min (with overture and exit music) | USA:118 min | UK:116 min (uncut) | UK:114 min (cut)
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Helen of Troy (1956)


Helen of Troy 1956tt0049301.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Helen of Troy (1956)
  • Rate: 6.0/10 total 1,036 votes 
  • Genre: Adventure | Action | Drama | Romance | War
  • Release Date: 26 January 1956 (USA)
  • Runtime: Germany:111 min (theatrical version) | Germany:116 min (with overture and exit music) | USA:118 min | UK:116 min (uncut) | UK:114 min (cut)
  • Filming Location: Cinecittà Studios, Cinecittà, Rome, Lazio, Italy
  • Director: Robert Wise
  • Stars: Stanley Baker, Rossana Podestà and Brigitte Bardot|See full cast and crew
  • Original Music By: Max Steiner   
  • Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording) (magnetic prints) | Mono (RCA Sound Recording) (optical prints)
  • Plot Keyword: King | Queen | Slave | Escape | Trojan War

Writing Credits By:

  • John Twist (screenplay) and
  • Hugh Gray (screenplay)
  • Hugh Gray (adaptation) and
  • N. Richard Nash (adaptation)
  • Homer (epic poem "The Iliad") uncredited

Known Trivia

  • Peter van Eyck was considered for a role in this film
  • The studio badly wanted Stanley Baker to be in this film and they didn’t care which part.
  • Niall MacGinnis was only cast as Menelaus after the production team failed to secure a big name British actor.
  • Average Shot Length (ASL) = 6 seconds, very fast for an early CinemaScope film.
  • When Niall MacGinnis was first cast he and the production team had no idea what part he would end up playing.
  • Eileen Moore and Anne Gunning were screen-tested for Helen.
  • Yvonne Furneaux was suggested for Andraste.
  • Among those interviewed for parts were Barbara Leake and Gabriel Woolf.
  • Esmond Knight, who plays the High Priest, was also Jacques Sernas’ English Coach.
  • Harry Andrews nearly lost his part in this film when his previous film, The Man Who Loved Redheads went over scheduled filming duration.

Plot: The Iliad's story of the Trojan war, told from the Trojan viewpoint. Full summary » |  »

Story: Prince Paris of Troy, shipwrecked on a mission to the king of Sparta, meets and falls for Queen Helen before he knows who she is. Rudely received by the royal Greeks, he must flee…but fate and their mutual passions lead him to take Helen along. This gives the Greeks just the excuse they need for much-desired war.Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>  

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

    FullCast & Crew:

    • Rossana Podestà known as Helen (as Rossana Podesta)
    • Jacques Sernas known as Paris (as Jack Sernas)
    • Cedric Hardwicke known as Priam (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
    • Stanley Baker known as Achilles
    • Niall MacGinnis known as Menelaus
    • Nora Swinburne known as Hecuba
    • Robert Douglas known as Agamemnon
    • Torin Thatcher known as Ulysses
    • Harry Andrews known as Hector
    • Janette Scott known as Cassandra
    • Ronald Lewis known as Aeneas
    • Brigitte Bardot known as Andraste
    • Eduardo Ciannelli known as Andros
    • Marc Lawrence known as Diomedes
    • Maxwell Reed known as Ajax
    • Robert Brown known as Polydorus
    • Barbara Cavan known as Cora
    • Terence Longdon known as Patroclus
    • Patricia Marmont known as Andromache
    • Guido Notari known as Nestor
    • Tonio Selwart known as Alpheus
    • George Zoritch known as Dancer
    • Esmond Knight known as High Priest
    • Frank Colson known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Peter Damon known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Cristina Fantoni known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Riccardo Garrone known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Remington Olmsted known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Tessa Prendergast known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Leda Roffi known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Walter Scherer known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Dean Severence known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
    • Maria Zanoli known as Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)



    Supporting Department

    Makeup Department:

    • Bill Phillips known as makeup artist
    • Alfred Scott known as hair stylist

    Art Department:

    • Ken Adam known as assistant art director
    • Maurice Zuberano known as continuity sketches
    • John More known as prop master (uncredited)
    • Italo Tomassi known as set designer (uncredited)
    • Vittorio Valentini known as assistant art director (uncredited)




    Production Companies:

    • Warner Bros. Pictures (presents) (A Warner Bros.- First National Picture)

    Other Companies:

    • Lux Film  Rossana Podesta by courtesy of


    • Warner Bros. Pictures (1956) (USA) (theatrical)
    • Warner Bros. (1956) (West Germany) (theatrical)
    • Warner Home Video (1996) (USA) (VHS)
    • Warner Home Video (2004) (USA) (DVD)
    • Living Colour Entertainment (2008) (Netherlands) (DVD)
    • AFEX (1956) (Austria) (theatrical)
    • Warner Bros. (1956) (Argentina) (theatrical)
    • Epoca (????) (Argentina) (VHS)



    Other Stuff

    Visual Effects by:

    • Louis Lichtenfield known as photographic special effects
    • Joseph Nathanson known as matte artist (uncredited)

    Release Date:

    • Austria January 1956
    • Argentina 26 January 1956
    • Australia 26 January 1956
    • Finland 26 January 1956
    • Portugal 26 January 1956
    • Sweden 26 January 1956
    • Turkey 26 January 1956
    • UK 26 January 1956 (London)
    • USA 26 January 1956
    • West Germany 26 January 1956
    • Belgium 27 January 1956
    • France 1 February 1956
    • Denmark 20 March 1958



    Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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    1. Benoît A. Racine (benoit-3) from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      Basically, this movie is criticized because, being one of the veryfirst big international co-productions, its main players were Eurocelebrities who never caught on in the US, and because Jacques Sernas’and Rossana Podesta’s voices were voiced-over. That is a pretty shallowapproach to movie criticism. This film is well-scripted (it’s based onHomer and neither substracts nor adds to his basic plot – except forthe Gods, which are mentioned but never seen, which makes it a modernsecular version of the Iliad), well-acted by some very impressiveBritish actors, superbly constructed (art direction, photography,costumes, period research, choreography) and creates a lastingimpression. I own it on laser disc and just had to buy a widescreen TVwith home theatre sound to do it justice. I can watch this movie asoften as I crave substantial food, which is very often. Robert Wise,besides being the director of The Day the Earth Stood Still, West SideStory and The Sound of Music started his career as the editor ofCitizen Kane and it is his input in the editing (vibrant, energetic,kinetic, masculine) that makes this movie a real winner and actuallybrings life to the giant vistas of this classic and tragic fairytale/war movie/love story. Max Steiner’s beautiful score adds severalother dimensions to this masterpiece and its interplay with the editingis always fascinating to watch. The general impression is a beautifuldream of the paintings on a Greek urn coming to magical, inspiring,colourful life. It is also fascinating to watch how the fight sceneswere a sort of preliminary study to the ones in West Side Story, whichis basically on the same subject. I had better stop while I’m ahead.One word of advice: Don’t believe the nay-sayers (i.e. Leonard Maltin)until you have experienced it for yourself in all its CinemaScope,Warnercolor and Stereophonic glory. A must-have at any price andalready overdue on DVD.

    2. ironside (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      Of all the great stories handed down through the ages, few can equalHomer's Iliad – a towering epic of warrior heroes, squabbling gods, andanger that destroyed nations…

      This is the source for Robert Wise's film… All the elements of amagnificent spectacle exist in Homer's work – a lavish and decadentcourt life, the tension of the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon,the most beautiful woman in Greece, and a drama of love andseduction…

      Thousands of weapons are used: spears, bows, arrows, body armor,helmets, shields, maces and ships of the period l200 B.C., plus atremendous wooden horse…

      Paris, on a diplomatic mission to Sparta to arrange peaceful trade, iswashed up on the Spartan shore after being shipwrecked during astorm… He is helped by the lovely Helen who claims to be a handmaidento the queen… She takes her leave, directing him to the court of KingMenelaus… Paris is greeted and honored in a 'cesti' combat withAjax… Secretly, however, Menelaus plots to kill his guest…

      Helen warns Paris of the danger to his life and urges him to runaway… Herself in danger for revealing the plot, she succumbs toParis' pleadings to flee with him… The lovers make their way toTroy…

      From that point the spectacular elements – the massing of the ships andmen, and the battles outside the walls of Troy, take over…

      Rossana Podesta – a natural brunette given a blonde wig and theclassical Grecian look – plays Helen, the indirect cause of the TrojanWar, but for Paris, she is the goddess of love and beauty, "Aphrodite."

      Jacques Sernas plays Paris… His seduction of Helen and refusal toreturn her, started the Trojan War…

      Robert Douglas is Agamemnon, the commander in chief of the Greekforces… He calls on the kings and princes to unite in a war ofrevenge against the Trojans… He was a very ambitious man, dreaming ofTroy's treasures…

      Stanley Baker is Achilles, the unbeatable warrior, the greatest andmost tragic of the Greek heroes…

      Harry Andrews is Hector, the eldest son of king Priam, and the husbandof Andromache… He is the chief warrior of the Trojan army…

      Niall MacGinnis is the furious Menelaus, King of Sparta, who calls onhis brother Agamemnon to gather an army and avenge the mark of shame…

      Torin Thatcher is Ulysses, king of Ithaca, the man of outstandingwisdom…

      Sir Cedric Hardwicke is the powerless but kindly King of Troy…

      Janette Scott is Cassandra, daughter of Priam, loved by the goddessAthena… With a great spirit of prophecy she warns her father to burnthe wooden horse…

      Robert Wise makes a brave attempt to marry the intimate with thespectacular – a difficult task – but "Helen of Troy" is an epic movie,a superior entertainment filmed in CinemaScope and Technicolor..

    3. Jonathan Farrugia (jonathan_rob@yahoo.com) from Malta
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      The first thing I read about this movie was that it was terrible and thatthe first lady even though very gifted as far as bust is concerned was anightmare when it comes to acting. However when I saw this film I had todisagree with those critics who tried to ruin a good movie. Even though thesets are nothing to those of "Ben-Hur", "Cleopatra" and other screen giantsthe sets of Cinecitta are stupendous. The colour is magnificent and theacting is quite good. It is true that the part of the heroine could haveportrayed some more fragility, still Ms. Podesta’ was quite satisfying. Thecinematography is very good and the story never lingers. It isaction-packed and is bound to marvel anyone who likes thisgenre.

    4. foxfire1 from Houston, Texas
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      I loved "Helen of Troy" when I was a young girl in the 50’s. Paris,played by Jacques Sernas, was the most gorgeous man I had ever seen andto me, made his character come alive. I wondered how I would feel aboutJacques’ performance after seeing Orlando Bloom play a rather wimpyParis in "Troy". Sadly, there didn’t seem to be any chemistry betweenParis and Helen in the new version. When comparing the original,classic version, I was pleased to find that it still remains anexciting and dynamic story and could not be improved with extravagantspecial effects. "Helen of Troy" has a romantic, poignant warmth andthe audience is compelled to hope that Helen and Paris can have a happylife together. In the new version, it didn’t seem to matter if theystayed together or not, their story almost felt secondary to theglorious story of Brad Pitts’ Achilles. Needless to say, I highlyrecommend the remastered DVD of "Helen of Troy, 1956" for thediscerning movie viewer.  

    5. treagan-2 from San Francisco
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      HELEN OF TROY is a very respectable Hollywood sword and sandal effort fromthe 1950s, with a strong international cast and very good production values. Except …

      Why does every popular culture effort at retelling the Trojan War myth haveto make Paris the hero? In the Illiad, by far the most significant andauthoritative source of the story, at best shows Paris to be an ambiguousfigure–the best looking man of his generation, but often a coward inbattle. Helen expresses extraordinary contempt for him in one extendedpassage. In one or two brief sequences, Paris fights valiantly, but in hismajor appearance, his winner-take-all-and-Helen duel with Menaleus, afterbragging and crowing about his prowess, he completely wimps out in thebattle, and, once defeated, is transported by Aphrodite back to Troy to hidein his bedroom.

      HELEN OF TROY is not the only effort to mis-read the Illiad into aParis-and-Helen "runaway" love story. Perhaps in writing a commercialscreenplay, that’s what any writer would be forced to do. But that doesn’tspeak well for our popular culture, one that can’t sustain the ambiguity andcomplexity of another culture–of 2700 years ago!

      Still, the movie has its strong parts, particularly Stanley Baker asAchilles. Watch for Brigitte Bardot in an early, pre-star role as Helen’shandmaiden.

    6. Greg Couture from Portland, Oregon
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      Come on, IMDb’ers! Get your stuff right. Warner Brothers was the studioand they usually forced their producer/directors around this period to usetheir own proprietary single-strip color process, rather than Technicolor,which by 1956 had already abandoned its own more expensive to use andcumbersome to handle three-strip process. Somehow Robert Wise and histechnicians managed to get more variety and warmer tones while usingWarnercolor in this film than what was usually achieved stateside on W.B.’sBurbank sound stages and on various U.S. locations. Maybe it was, asFranco Zeffirelli is fond of calling it, "the golden-ah light" of Italy. Anyway this film is quite an eye-filling visual achievement. And MaxSteiner’s score is one of his better ones, pumping up the spectacle aspectquite effectively.

      A couple of trivia notes: The Walls of Troy set accidentally caught firebefore the company was finished with it, but Wise and his technicians wereon the spot and managed to get some usable footage out of that disaster. (Idon’t know if they had to reconstruct it or rewrite some scenes that wereoriginally supposed to have taken place on its ramparts.) And TIME magazinein its review complained that Signorina Podesta’s vaccination scar (and Ithink that of Monsieur Sernas as well) is clearly visible in a love scene. Without computers to fix such gaffes back then, and probably not noticingthat little "oops!" until examining footage in a U.S. screening room whenthe company returned home for editing, the studio probably figured they’djust let it pass. But forty-foot wide CinemaScope screens were quitemerciless when it came to audiences’ perceptions of the obvious.

    7. ptb-8 from Australia
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      It is good for the viewer to see this cinemascope spectacular from 1956after seeing the new TROY with Brad and Eric. HELEN OF TROY as directedby craftsman Robert Wise is very pleasingly made and with excellentaction and spectacle – especially in the well populated fiery siegescenes. No CGI in those days, there really was a couple of thousanddressed and armed extras running all over the huge set. ApparentlyRobert Wise is on record as having said he took the $6 millionassignment because he hadn’t yet directed a spectacular….! Told froma different perspective than the 2004 version, this 50s view is fromthe point of Paris as opposed to Archilles in the new one. It would belike the new one being told from Orlando Bloom’s perspective ratherthan from Brad Pitt’s. HELEN OF TROY on DVD has good extras includingthe TV specials made with Gig Young as a promo of the time. The hugeset created in Italy was recycled into SODOM AND GOMORRAH given theorange pillars and layout. HELEN OF TROY has excellent Warnercolour andbeautiful art direction. It is a good film and well worth seeing afteryou see TROY as a companion/chaser.

    8. mack-38
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      As a fan of Greek Mythogy, Helen of Troy is the closest I’ve seenreenactment of the Trojan War. Under the Direction of Director RobertWise,this is a well produced version in telling the story.

      As most people know the ending it was still sad, they had it made, but theadvice given by Helen "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts", was ignored andthusthe downfall of the City of Troy.

      All in all I did enjoy this version, I don’t think anyone else willdisagree

    9. Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      While the greedy Greeks plot to invade Troy to steal the treasures ofthe Trojans, Prince Paris (Jack Sernas) is assigned by his wise fatherand King of Troy to travel to Sparta and shows the peaceful intentionsof his people. Along his journey, he falls off in the sea during astorm and is rescued on the shore by the Queen of Sparta Helen (RossanaPodestà). When he recovers, he believes that she is a slave and theyfall in love for each other. When he arrives in the Spartan palace, heis arrested by King Menelaus (Niall MacGinnis) in his quarters butHelen helps him to escape. They travel together to Troy and give theexcuse the Greeks need to start the war and put Troy under siege foryears. The Greeks are unsuccessful in their intents, until they listento the cunning Ulysses (Torin Thatcher) that decide s to withdraw theone thousand Greek ships from the Trojan waters and offer a woodenHorse of Troy as a gift to the winners.

      The underrated "Helen of Troy" is an engaging romantic adventure with awonderful version of Homer's epic poem "The Iliad". The beauty of theLybian Rossana Podestà compared to Aphrodite gives credibility to thepassionate love of Paris. The grandiosity of scenarios and cast thatincludes a brunette Brigitte Bardot and the magnificent direction ofRobert Wise make this feature a must-see. I do not understand theunfair bad reviews of this great epic. Just as a curiosity, the episode"Revenge of the Gods" of "The Time Tunnel" uses uncredited footages ofthis feature. My vote is nine.

      Title (Brazil): "Helena de Tróia" ("Helen of Troy")

    10. Wout Visser (wrvisser-leusden-nl) from Leusden, Holland
      02 Jan 2013, 12:40 am

      This movie typically dates from an era, when the many local movie-theatreswere visited regularly for their newest issues. An era when television couldnot compete yet, also an era when society wasn’t as hectic and demanding asit is today.

      So just sit back, relax, and take your time to watch ‘Helen of Troy’.Fifties-movies generally are well-made and worth watching, and this one isno exception. For instance, enjoy the ‘overture’, a fine piece of film-musicto get you in the right mood. The concert is on for about five minutes, thescreen before your face not moving at all during this entireperiod.

      Once ‘Helen’ is on her way, you will enjoy the quality of the (color-)shots,and that of the actors and actresses. Their heroic style of acting,completely out of fashion now, is remarkable. Further there is not much to add. The fifties show a clear trend for pompousmovies lending their plot from ancient Greek or Roman history. Such as ‘BenHur’, ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Quo Vadis’. ‘Helen of Troy’ also belongs to thiscategory.

      And, what about Brigitte Bardot? Her tiny role as a slave-girl in a pompousGreek-history setting does not suit her talents very well. Brigitte makesthe best of it, though, occasionally succeeding in letting her famous imageshine through.

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