DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Robert Wise
Rosanna Podesta, Jack Sernas, Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Writing Credits:
John Twist, Hugh Gray

The Iliad's story of the Trojan war, told from the Trojan viewpoint.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 7/25/2023

• 3 “Behind the Camera” TV Segments
• “Napoleon Bunny-Part” Animated Short
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Helen of Troy [Blu-Ray] (1956)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 7, 2023)

Though his pair of Best Director Oscars sat in his future at the time, Robert Wise showed enough skill as a filmmaker to get the reins to big pictures by the mid-1950s. This led him behind the camera for 1956’s Helen of Troy, a deluxe CinemaScope extravaganza.

Set around 1100 BC, Paris (Jack Sernas) represents Troy, and he travels to Sparta to work on a peace between the rival city-states. However, along the way a storm sweeps him off his boat and leaves him stranded in Sparta.

Queen Helen (Rosanna Podesta) rescues him and the pair fall in love, much to the chagrin of her husband, King Menelaus (Niall MacGinnis). This rivalry over Helen’s affections sparks the Trojan War.

Which is why Helen became known as “the face that launched 1000 ships”, of course. This feels like an appropriate subject for a big CinemaScope production.

Too bad that Troy never overcomes the flaws of the genre. More concerned with spectacle than characters or story, the film turns into dreary dud much of the time.

I admit I never much cottoned to the historical epics of the 1950s/1960s, so perhaps that semi-bias colors my view of Troy. Nonetheless, I remain open to the genre’s charms, and I figured the presence of Wise behind the camera might overcome the usual problems.

Nope. I won’t say Wise seems overwhelmed with the project, but he can’t dig through the spotty script to reveal any real substance.

The cast doesn’t help, mainly because our leads seem pretty but dishwater dull. We need the romance between Helen and Paris to ignite, but instead Podesta and Sernas combine to create a limp couple.

It probably doesn’t help that Podesta seems lovely but not really “launches 1000 ships” gorgeous. Granted, her awkward blonde wig makes her look “off”, but I still don’t see Podesta as a classic beauty.

It doesn’t help that Troy casts an actual legendary face as Helen’s handmaiden Andraste. We get Brigitte Bardot in that role, and it feels weird to see someone better-looking than Podesta in a supporting part.

Whatever nitpicks I offer about physical appearance, the bigger issue remains the flat performances by Sernas and Podesta. Neither spoke English so the filmmakers needed to dub their lines.

This seems painfully obvious throughout the film and it harms the story. Granted, a lot of the actors also got looped, but this feels more problematic when it concerns the main characters, and this just adds to the problems with the Podesta/Sernas pairing.

In addition, too much of Troy just plods. Though the film usually focuses on the chemistry-free romance between Helen and Paris, we also find ourselves stuck with many scenes of bickering politicians.

These two sides occupy most of the movie’s first half. That makes it something of an endurance test through this initial hour.

The second half does pick up the pace, mainly because it concentrates somewhat on the Trojan War – though we remain stuck with political meanderings and flaccid romance. However, Wise doesn’t bring much real spark to the battle scenes, so they depict the conflict in an oddly stiff and tepid manner.

I’m sure Troy played better on a huge CinemaScope screen back in the 1950s, as the size of this super-widescreen image would dazzle. Broken down to the movie’s actual qualities, though, it seems like a forgettable tale.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Helen of Troy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.55:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. We got a generally good presentation, though the source showed some kinks.

Primarily sharpness became inconsistent. Large chunks of the movie displayed appealing delineation, but more than a few oddly soft shots materialized as well.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt natural and the image lacked print flaws.

The film tended toward a fairly natural palette, one whose “Warner Color” stock appeared to have faded a little over the decades. Still, hues largely came across with reasonable fidelity.

Blacks seemed dark and dense, while low-light shots came across as clear and smooth. Given the nature of the source, this image worked pretty well.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, the soundfield largely accentuated music. Effects and dialogue largely remained centered, with only occasional instances of those elements from other channels.

On the other hand, the mix boasted music from all five channels through much of the movie. The score showed surprisingly good separation.

Audio quality seemed fine given the movie’s vintage. Dialogue suffered from the dodgy dubbing mentioned in the body of the review, but the lines remained intelligible and reasonably concise.

Effects lacked great dimensionality, but they nonetheless came across with decent accuracy and clarity. Music demonstrated above-average range for a nearly 70-year-old track and became a highlight. This brought a pretty good track for its era.

In terms of extras, we get the movie’s trailer along with three segments from the Warner Bros. Presents TV series. Called “Behind the Camera”, we find “The Look of Troy” (6:06), “Interviewing Helen” (6:06) and “Sounds of Homeric Troy” (6:06).

Across these, host Gig Young gives us some background about the movie, shows clips and “interviews” Rosanna Podesta in character as Helen – albeit dubbed like she was in the final film. Nothing particularly informative emerges in these promo reels, but they enjoy some archival value.

The disc finishes with Napoleon Bunny-Part, a circa 1956 Friz Freleng-directed Bugs short. It lasts seven minutes, seven seconds and indeed places our favorite wisecracking rabbit in early 19th century France.

Bugs spars with Emperor Napoleon. It offers a fairly amusing affair.

Due to two pretty but dull lead actors, Helen of Troy delivers a romance without sparks. It improves when it digs into the Trojan War, but so much of it concentrates on its bland leads that it becomes a slog to watch. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture and audio but it lacks substantial bonus materials. Even famed filmmaker Robert Wise can’t save this forgettable epic.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main