Damon and Pythias (film)

Il tiranno di Siracusa (English Release Title: Damon and Pythias) is a 1962 Italian/American film directed by Curtis Bernhardt. The film is based on the Greek legend of Damon and Pythias, and set during the reign of Dionysius I of Syracuse (432-367 BC).

Damon and Pythias
Directed byCurtis Bernhardt
Produced bySam Jaffe (associate producer)
Samuel Marx (associate producer)
Written bySamuel Marx (story)
Samuel Marx (screenplay)
Franco Riganti (screenplay)
Paola Ojetti/Franco Riganti (dialogue: Italian version)
Bridget Boland (dialogue: English version)
Music byAngelo Francesco Lavagnino
CinematographyAldo Tonti
Edited byNiccolò Lazzari
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • 1962 (1962)
Running time
101 minutes (Italy)
99 minutes (U.S.)
United States

Plot summary

In ancient Greece, Pythias from Athens is on a trip to Syracuse. The tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse sees him as a dangerous follower of the philosopher Pythagoras and condemns him to death.

Pythias begs Dionysus to allow him to visit his wife in Athens promising to return to Syracuse to be executed. Pythias' friend Damon volunteers to be held hostage until Pythias returns. Dionysius sees this as the opportunity to demonstrate the falsity of Pythagoras' philosophy.

Dionysius allows Pythias to leave but does not expect him to return. Dionysius prepares to execute Damon, but at the last minute, Pythias returns to take Damon's place before the executioner. The tyrant's son intervenes and Damon and Pythias are both spared.



Jaffe and Marx wanted the leads played by John Gavin and James Garner.[1]


The film made a profit of $6,000.[2]


The international distribution was taken over by MGM.[3]


  • Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano - The Complete Guide From Classics To Cult. London - New York: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-608-0.


  1. Garner and Gavin Sought as Costars: Wanted as 'Damon and Pythias'; Red Skelton's Friends Rallying Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 23 Dec 1960: A4.
  2. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  3. Hughes, p.53

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