The Barefoot Bataillon

Gregg Tallas

Greece, 1955

REVIEWS

Inspired by the tragedy of the German Occupation of Greece during the war, Tallas made Bareffot Bataillon. Set in an occupied country racked by suffering and starvation the film tells the story of 160 children who having been kicked out of their reformatory by the Germans and the black – marketers, in order to keep themselves and those who need help. Tallas achieved a wonderful neorealist film, avoiding the traps of melodrama with which the topic was rife, and reproducing the atmosphere of sheer desperation that had taken possession of Thessaloniki, a city surrendered to a harsh winter with no hope on sight. The editing and the rhythm of the film bear out Rene Claire who placed Tallas among the great film editors of the world. The film was nominated for the best Foreign Academic Award and it won first prize at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

THE DIRECTOR

Gregg Tallas

Gregg Tallas (his actual name Grigoris Thalassinos), was born in Istanbul in 1909. From a very young age, and due to family professional commitments, he moves to cosmopolitan Atlantic City. Interested in the arts  and aspiring to become an actor, Tallas registers to Princeton School, without his parents knowing!

1928: He moves to New York in order to study theatre and film at the American Laboratory Theater. He is then introduced to “Method Acting”, a dramatic technique introduced by Stanislavsky, the Russian theatre director.

1930: Enthusiastic about the Method, he moves to Moscow and for 15 months he attends courses run at Stanislavsky’s art theatre. Through-out this time, he stays in the legendary director’s apartment.

1931: He moves to Spain to meet Fererico Garcia Lorca, whom he had befriended  at Greenwich Village’s intellectual cafés (New York 1928-9) where they used to meet. Tallas, fascinated by the combination of poetry and realism found in Lorca’s approach,  follows his theatre tour for 6 months.

1932: Returns to Atlantic City where he establishes his own repertoire theatre under the name “Toy Theatre”. Performing both as a producer and director, he stages 40 plays of classic and contemporary repertoire, featuring actors like Orson Wells, Elia Kazan, Catherine Cornell, Martha Scott, and many more. Feeling restless, he runs, simultaneously a Drama School.

1935: He establishes Avant-Garde theatre, where he stages pioneering productions.

1936: He returns to Spain, in  the Granada region, to fight with International Brigades against Franco.

1937: He directs the play Engagements/Arravoniasmata, written by Dimitris Bogris.

1938: He moves to Hollywood after an invitation made by Lewis B. Meyer, the owner and CEO of Metro Goldwin Meyer studios. He excels in editing and proves to be masterful in action scenes, not just in terms of editing, but, also in terms of script writing and directing. He wrote, directed and edited the action scenes of films like: Gone with the Wind, Doctor Jecyll and Mr. Hyde, Marie Antoinette, and others.

1946: He shoots his first film, Prehistoric Women, a United Artists productions, and right after that Sirens of Atlantis with the same studio.

1948: Together with his work in film, he founds another repertoire theater, Orchard Gables Repertory Theater, where he stages Chekhov’s Seagull, Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, Molières’ The Bourgeois Gentleman, and many more. During this period, he  familiarizes with different approaches in theater applied by Reinhard and Jenser Theater in Berlin, and Grand Guignol Theater in Paris.

1952: Knowledgeable, daring and with a wide experience in theater and film, he returns to Greece to shoot “Barefoot Batallion”. The Greek-American Hotelier, Petros Boudouris financially supported the production.

1958: He stages Elias Venezi’s play Peace/Galini at Kyveli Theater.

After the making of Barefoot Battalion, Gregg Tallas remained in touch with Greek  theater and film production. He taught in the Film Schools of the time. Back then, Gregg Tallas and Christos Vachliotis were the only ones qualified to teach film. However, he never accepted Greek mentality, and in particular the mentality prevalent in the Greek theater of the time. His fondness of child actors led him to direct for National Greek Television, the series The Wooden Swords/Ta Xylina Spathia based on Pantelis Koliotsos’ novel. This was the great filmmaker’s last work.

Gregg Tallas died in Athens in 1993. Before his death, he had a car accident in the States, where he had gone to meet Telly Savallas, who would star in his following film. A member of the United Artists, Tallas was honored by the Hollywood Academy of Arts & Science. His film Barefoot Battalion is taught in universities and film academies.

FILMOGRAPHY

Films

  • 1. Siren of Atlantis 1948, United Artists, USA
  • 2. Prehistoric Women 1950, United Artists, USA
  • 3. Barefoot Battalion, 1953, Greece
  • 4. Shadow of Truth, 1954, Columbia, USA
  • 5. Bed of Grass, 1957, Trans-Lux, USA
  • 6. Forbidden Love, 1958, Orpheas Films, Greece
  • 7. Eros Accused, 1962, Cosmos Films, Greece
  • 8. U.N. Agent Marc Mato, 1965, Atlantida, Spain
  • 9. Espionage in Tangiers,  1966, Medousa, Italy
  • 10. Bikini Paradise, 1967, Allied Artists, USA
  • 11. Spies in the Saronic Gulf, 1968, Finos Films, Greece
  • 12. Pancho Villa, 1972, Phil. Yordan Productions, USA
  • 13. Cataclysm, 1983, West Germany
  • 14. Night train to terror, 1985, USA
  • 15. The Last Five Minutes, Amato Productions, USA
  • 16. Constantia, Amato Productions, USA
  • 17. White Savage, Allied Artists, USA
  • 18. Women of Venus, Allied Artists, USA
  • 19. The River, Monogram, USA
  • 20. The Far Wanderer, Allied Artists, USA
  • 21. The Last Goddess, United General Theaters, USA

TV Series

  • 1. You be the Jury / KTTV, USA
  • 2. Wooden Swords/ΕΡΤ, Greece

Scripts

  • 1. Prehistoric Women
  • 2. Barefoot Battalion (in collaboration with Nikos Katsiotis)
  • 3. Espionage in Tangiers
  • 4. Marc Mato, Agente S. 077
  • 5. Spies in the Saronic Gulf
  • 6. El sonido de la muerte
  • 7. The Last Goddess
  • 8. Petite Abductors
  • 9. Constantino
  • 10. The River
  • 11. Women from Venus

DETAILS

Original Title: Barefoot battalion

Direction: Gregg Tallas

Screenplay: Nico Katsiotes

Story: Nico Katsiotes

Cinematography: Mihalis Gaziadis

Music: Mikis Theodorakis

Editing: Gregg Tallas

Assistant Editor: Despoina Kontogiorgou

Sound: Mikes Damalas

Special Effects: James Gream

Duration: 93′

Lighting: Kostas Karanasos

Property Master: Kostas Doukas

Colour: Black & White

Genre: Drama

Production: Petros Boudoures/Gregg Tallas

Awards: Golden Medal Award,Edinburg International Film Festival 1955

Cast: Maria Kosti (Alexandra), Nikos Fermas (Captain Mavros), Antonios Voulgaris (Nikos), Vasilios Frangedakis (Andreas), Christos Sokouroglou (Jo), Evangelos Yiotopoulos (Jakob), Stavros Krozos (Dimitris – Kid), Manolis Rigas (Professor), George Axiotis (Thanos), Nicholas Zaharias (Stavros), Kaiti Jini (Little Martha), Apostolis Bekiaros (Dimitris – adult), Ilias Papadopoulos, Lola Xatzichristou, Despoina Kontogiorgou

REFERENCES

  • Grosdanis Yannis, Mylonaki Angeliki (eds), Cine Thessaloniki: Stories from the city and the cinema (in Greek) University Studio Press, Thessaloniki, 2012
  • Kollia,Katerina , ‘Το εγχείρημα της νεωτερικής γραφής και η αναπαράσταση των παιδιών στο Ξυπόλητο τάγμα’ [The Undertaking of Modernist Writing & the Representation of Children in Barefoot Battalion] in Vaso Theodorou, Maria Moumoulidou and Anastasia Oikonomidou (eds) «Πιάσε με αν μπορείς…» Η παιδική ηλικία και οι αναπαραστάσεις της στον σύγχρονο ελληνικό κινηματογράφο [Catch if you can. Represantations of Childhood in Contemporary Greek Cinema]. Aigokeros, Athens, 2006
  • Mylonaki Angeliki, “Thessaloniki of Greek Cinema (1950-1970), Θεσσαλονικέων Πόλις, Τεύχος 20 (Σεπτέμβριος 2006), σ. 26-35
  • Poupou, Anna, ‘The Geography of Neo-Realism in Greece: City Images, Urban Representations and Aesthetics of Space’. In Greek Cinema: Texts, Histories, Identities, edited by Lydia Papadimitriou and Yannis Tzioumakis, 257-269. Bristol, Chicago: Intellect, 2012
  • Sotiropoulou Chrisanthy, Kινούμενα τόπια κινηματογραφικές αποτυπώσεις του ελληνικού χώρου [Transient landscapes of Greece in Film] Metaixmio ,Athens, 2001
  • Spirou Dimitris The Barefoot Bataillon, Neaniko Plano, http://www.neanikoplano.gr/content/διάφορα-κείμενα
  • Vervenioti, Tasoula The Barefoot Bataillon. Από τη «θερμή δεκαετία του 40 στην ψυχροπολεμική μεταπολεμική κοινωνία [From the Heated Decade of the 40s to Post War Society during the Cold War Era in Vaso Theodorou, Maria Moumoulidou and Anastasia Oikonomidou (eds) «Πιάσε με αν μπορείς…» Η παιδική ηλικία και οι αναπαραστάσεις της στον σύγχρονο ελληνικό κινηματογράφο [Catch if you can. Represantations of Childhood in Contemporary Greek Cinema]. Aigokeros, Athens, 2006

TEACHER GUIDE

ACTIVITIES

European Films For Innovative Audience / Designed by Freelance Creative