When their ruler dies, the Athenians determine that he will be replaced by the wise missionary Arcanos. Unfortunately, Arcanos resides in Syracuse, where he has been teaching Greek philosophy as part of an underground movement. Pythias (Don Burnett) volunteers to bring back Arcanos, although the journey into enemy territory will be perilous. He struggles with how to break the news to his high-strung pregnant wife Nerissa (Ilaria Occhini). He finally opts for the easy way out...and leaves that task to his brother and sister.
|Guy Williams as Damon.|
|Nerissa...pretty but dramatic.|
Loosely based on a Greek legend, Damon and Pythias could have been a first-rate picture with a stronger script and bigger stars. Perhaps, MGM's original intent was to mount a rival production to the big-budget epics of the same period (e.g., Spartacus, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire). However, with its modest budget and low wattage cast, it's clear that the studio ultimately set its goals much lower.
|Don Burnett as Pythias.|
Williams and Burnett, friends in real life, both had Italian connections. The American-born Williams was of Italian descent and his real name was Armand Catalano. After playing Dr. John Robinson in TV's Lost in Space, he retired to Argentina in the 1970s and died of a brain aneurysm in 1989. Don Burnett spoke at his memorial service.
Burnett retired from acting after Damon and Pythias and eventually became a successful stockbroker. Burnett's first wife was Italian star Gia Scala (The Guns of Navarone, The Angry Hills). They divorced in 1970; she committed suicide two years later after struggling with depression and alcoholism. Burnett eventually married Barbara Anderson, one of Raymond Burr's co-stars on the TV series Ironside.
|Real-life friends Burnett and Williams--with guard between them.|
Warner Archives provided a screening copy of this DVD.