Alexander the Great (1968)





Director:     Phil Karlson. 

Starring:     William Shatner (Alexander),  Adam West (Cleander),  John Cassavetes (Karonos),  Joseph Cotton (Antigonus),  Simon Oakland (Attalos),  John Doucette (Kleitos),  Robert Fortier (Aristander),  Peter Hansen (Tauron),  Cliff Osmond (Memnon),  Ziva Rodann (Ada). 

the great Macedonian empire builder (with William Shatner); made for TV



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

"Persia. 2297 years ago.  A land of rock, of sand, of war, barbaric  war.  For this was the kingdom of Darius, king of kings, ruler of all western Asia.  For centuries the winds of battle swept this land dry of life.  Until one day from Greece from the west came a man to bring life to the soil and civilization and peace.  A man who was known as Alexander."

Kleitos calls for Alexander.  He rides his horse fast over to Kleitos.  Four men are hanging upside down on a tree.  Alexander tells his men to cut them down. One of the men is still alive.  Alexander inquires about the other men and the fellow tells him that they are dead. And the Persians have taken Cleander prisoner.  The man dies. 

All of a sudden an arrow whizzes by and sticks in the tree.  Persians!  Alexander jumps on his horse and goes after them.  Two Persian soldiers turn to stop Alexander who is pursuing them.  But Alexander hits both men with his sword and they go down.  Alexander kills two more men until he gets the horse carrying Cleander.  Alexander cuts of the rope binding Cleanader's hand.  Cleander starts to tell Alexander that they were caught in an ambush as if someone had told the enemy where they would be. 

The cry goes out again:  Persians.  Persian archers stand up.  The Macedonians start racing away on their horses.  Alexander is the last to get on his horse and a Persian jumps on him and takes him to the ground.  Alexander fights the man. 

Back at Alexander's headquarters, the officers discuss what they should do next.  Karonos comes in and says that the Persians have now got them boxed in.  He tells Antigonus that they are inviting disaster by staying where they are. Furthermore, five kings are pledged to Darius.  Among them is Memnon. 

A messenger arrives to tell Memnon that Alexander is dead.  He shall have the head of the man tonight. 

Alexander's horse returns to the camp.  Attalos says the king is dead.  This upsets Alexander's woman Ada who goes back into the tent.  She intends to stab herself, but Antigonus intervenes to stop her.  Antigonus tells her to cheer up.  She is Persian and has been held as a hostage, but with the king dead, she can now return to her people.  But Ada says she belongs to Alexander.  Antigonus blames himself for the death of Alexander, but Ada tells him it's not his fault. 

The officers want Antigonus to be their new leader, but Antigonus says they need a younger man.  He says the troops will obey Karonos and he will obey Karonos.  Karonos praises Alexander and says he will try to do service to his memory.  He wants to go into defensive position to consolidate their gains.  They will march west to the sea and home.  Aristander wants to take a thousand men and will go get Alexander if he is alive.  Aristander and Karonos are going to fight each other when Alexander returns.  He is warmly greeted by everyone. 

Alexander says they will move forward tonight.  Antigonus tells Alexander that he was too fool-hardy and Alexander agrees.

A Macedonian kills a guard and speaks to a Persian prisoner.  He tells him that tonight the Persian will kill Alexander or be killed himself.  He cuts the ropes off the prisoner and leaves. 

Kleitos is a strong fellow and he shows Tauron how to a break a hold.  Alexander comes in and says that Tauron is not a fighter, but an engineer.  Alexander now challenges Kleitos to challenge him.  Alexander throws the man over his shoulder a couple of times.  And now he asks Ada to dance for him and the others.  Antigonus spoils the party by coming in and saying that the men are ready to move. 

Alexander tells his generals that they will move east, but Karonos asks him why should they move farther east?  They have captured the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea from Greece to Egypt.  That is enough.  But Alexander tells Karonos that Greece will not be safe until Darius is subdued.  Karonos says the men are exhausted by all this campaigning.  Finally, Alexander says:  "That's enough!"  He dismisses his officers except for Cleander and Antigonus.  Antigonus asks Alexander why didn't he tell his officers the battle plan?  Because, says Alexander, someone in their midst is informing the Persians of his every move.  Only Cleander knows. 

The freed Persian prisoner now fires an arrow though the tent.  He just misses killing Alexander.  Karonos quickly kills the prisoner for his failure. 

Together with Karonos is Attalos, who tells his co-conspirator that Alexander must be killed. 

Antigonus says the men must have a rest for they are exhausted.  So Alexander says they will rest now, but in the morning they will face Memnon and his men in battle.  He then tells Ada that she must go to the rear.  She obeys.  Antigonus now says he won't lead his men into battle because they are too exhausted.  Alexander says he will do this with or without Antigonus.  He then tells Antigonus to go to the rear.  In the rear Attalos asks Antigonus to join the plot to kill Alexander.  Attalos now takes Antingonus over to see Karonos. 

Antigonus tries to kill Karonos, but Karonos is younger and stronger and he kills Antigonus.  The two conspirators leave.  With his last energy, Antigonus writes a K in the sand naming his killer. 

Darius is informed that the Macedonians and Greeks are minutes away from them.  To his men he says they will destroy Alexander and his army earlier than expected. 

Alexander issues his orders to his general.  Cleander is to hold the center and Attalos will back Cleander.  Kleitos will have his archers on the hills. 

The Persians charge, but many of them are killed by the archers.  The Persians cannot break through the solid Macedonian row of shields backed up by long lances. 

Alexander now learns that Karonos has killed Antigonus.  Alexander starts to go after Karonos, who is very buy killing Persians at the moment.  Attalos goes to kill Alexander, but he is hit by an arrow to his back and falls forward to rest on his horse.  Now Alexander and Karonos do battle.  Alexander stabs Karono and down he goes.  Now boulders are rolled onto the Persian soldiers.  Darius gives the order to withdraw. 

Alexander covers the body of Antigonus with a sheet.  He gets back on his horse and his generals on their horses follow him.  He's ready to capture more territory. 


Short film of Alexander the Great.  Most of the plot was set around an attempt by some of Alexander's generals to kill him.  Well, at least it's a different approach.  The whole thing is a relatively cheap production.  William Shatner was pretty good as Alexander and one could imagine him being the great Alexander.  They had some other good actors such as John Cassavetes and Joseph Cotton, but they can't make up for the poor screenplay. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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