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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hercules Unchained (1959)

Starring Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Sylvia Lopez, Patrizia Della Rovere, Primo Carnera
Directed by Pietro Francisci
(actor & director credits courtesy

While trying to negotiate a power shift of rulers of the city of Thebes, the great hero Hercules is robbed of his memory and strength and abducted by an evil queen who makes him her love slave.

In the second and final Hercules film to star Steve Reeves, the talent of future auteur Mario Bava is on display in a colorful and well-assembled pastiche puled from the pages of Greek mythology.  Bava is credited with the film's cinematography and directing the special effects, but film historian Troy Howarth pointed out to me he likely directed at least a portion of the film as well.  Bava's attention to color makes this one of the most beautiful of the sword and sandal films to look at, and the way the camera catches the glittering sequins in Lopez' gown adds to the attractive actress' allure.  Francisci's screenplay is credited as being based on tragic plays by Sophocles and Aeschylus, but from researching them on Wikipedia, they only seem to have provided some basic story elements, with further elements from Hercules' myths added to them.  Nonetheless, this is still an entertaining film with a prestigious feel to it, and while Hercules does not have a heck of a lot of derring-do to perform, I found the backstories with Gabriele Antonini's clever subterfuge as Ulisses and Sergio Fantoni's scheming Eteocles interesting.

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