Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans

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Any Gen-Xer who grew up watching TBS no doubt came across Clash of the Titans, Desmond Davis’s kitschy celebration of Greek mythology. Zeus (Laurence Olivier) angers Thetis (Maggie Smith) when he transforms her mortal son Calibos (Neil McCarthy) into a deformed beast. The almighty god’s own son, Perseus (Harry Hamlin), kills Calibos and marries Andromeda (Judi Bowker) but must fulfill his ultimate destiny by protecting the fair maiden from the sea monster Kraken. Ray Harryhausen’s homely visual effects evoke sights unseen since Hoyt’s The Lost World, but his stop-motion creations (Pegasus, Medusa, the adorable mechanic owl Bubo) are every bit as memorable as the film’s curious casting. In addition to Olivier and Smith, Burgess Meredith stars as Perseus’s loyal mentor Ammon and Ursula Andress appears as Aphrodite (of course!). Smith was then married to the film’s writer Beverley Cross, who had worked previously with Harryhausen on the legendary Jason and the Argonauts and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. More memorable than the film’s set pieces (prime here is Perseus dodging Medusa’s arrows), though, is its high camp value. Smith, in particular, stands apart from the all-star crowd when Thetis (here, a huge stone head collapsed from its body) threatens to destroy a mortal kingdom unless it sacrifices the virginal Andromeda to Kraken. These fantastical He-Man epics were common in the early ’80s (Legend, Conan the Barbarian, and The Beastmaster were all variations of the same theme), and while Clash of the Titans remains one of the genre’s homelier entries, there’s no faulting a film this lovingly and aptly arcane.

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Distributor
Warner Bros.
Runtime
118 min
Rating
PG
Year
1981
Director
Desmond Davis
Screenwriter
Beverley Cross
Cast
Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Sian Phillips, Flora Robson, Anna Manahan, Freda Jackson, Tim Pigott-Smith, Neil McCarthy, Jack Gwillim, Susan Fleetwood, Pat Roach, Donald Houston, Vida Taylor, Harry Jones