This is our Saturday night pizza and bad movie offering, a beefcake flick filmed initially in Italian. The eye candy was a nice accompaniment (your mileage may vary) to the pizza and wine, and it brought up the apocryphal reaction of Harry Warner (one of the Warner Brothers) to talkies: “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
The opening shows (…Greek?) soldiers pillaging a town. A wealthy woman is in her home, ready to flee with her maid when two soldiers enter. After confirming that she’s Hercules’ wife, they kill her, stabbing her in the back.
“Hercules will avenge me,” she tells them.
“I hope he will,” says chief bad’un Licos (Massimo Serato). “For his vengeance will fall on the person I wish to destroy.”
To show what a bad’un he really is, Licos goes to his boss, Eurysteus (Cesare Fantoni), and tells him his orders have been carried out. His boss is happy. Hercules is not going to figure out who did all the rapin’ and killin’.
Licos doesn’t want to risk him finding out. Hercules will be appeased if he knows his wife’s murderer has been killed.
Bummer for Eurysteus.
Hercules (Mickey Hargitay) comes back from consulting the Oracle, who might have told him some was afoot rather than he’d lead a troubled life. He finds everything in ruin and knows damn well who’s responsible—except, well, hard to wreak vengeance on a dead guy.
He meets with the dead king’s daughter, Queen Deianira (Jayne Mansfield)—and yeah, he’s mourning his recently deceased wife and all, but she’s kinda cute. She’s mourning her recently deceased dad and all, but he’s kinda cute, especially since he runs around half-naked.
Alas! The course of true love never did run smooth. Queen Deianira is already engaged to Achilles (which they pronounced something like “Ah-kil-AY-o”). Herk knows where he’s not wanted and leaves.
Achilles turns up dead with Hercules’ dagger in his back. (Notice a pattern here?)
So, yeah, Queen Deianira is mourning her dead father and her dead fiancé, but Licos proposes to her anyway. She can’t be interested in Hercules. He killed Achilles, right?
Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay were married at the time. Hargitay was a former bodybuilder, so he had the strength and apparently was not shy about the skimpy little outfits he had to wear in this flick. I doubt he picked up marble pillars or tree trunks, however.
The story is absurd. No other word comes to mind. The special effects are goofy, but that seldom bothers me. Hercules attacks a three-headed hydra that looks like it doesn’t even realize he’s there. The amazons wear uniforms left over from the latest alien invasion flick.
In one rather disturbing scene, the amazon queen, Hippolyta (Tina Gloriani), stands in a blasted forest, taunting a former lover she is gradually turning into a tree. Could this be Hercules’s fate?
Queen Deianira’s wardrobe is varied and quite striking. Her attendants wore various gowns of various pastel shades. Their hair was piled in nearly impossible beehives. This is all quite un-ancient Greek, but fun to watch.
This is a nitpicky point, but the characters kept calling Hercules the son of Jupiter—the Roman name. Greeks would use the Greek name, Zeus. But realism? I am asking a bit much.
After much sturm and drang, there is a happy ending, and the angels sing.
The movie can be watched here:
The sound is iffy, but the dialogue (dubbed in later) is more comprehensible than the music, which sounds like it was recorded off an AM radio.
Buy or Rent MST3K version here:
Title: The Loves of Hercules (original title: Gli amori di Ercole )(1960)
Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
Sandro Continenza…(screenplay) (as Alessandro Continenza) &
Cast (in credits order)
Jayne Mansfield…Queen Deianira / Hippolyta
Giulio Donnini…High Priest
Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes