Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hercules Unchained

If you have to sit through a Hercules movie, you might as well sit through what Dr. Frank-N-Furter referred to as "an old Steeve Reeves movie."
Hecules Unchained (filmed in Italy in 1959 as Ercole e la regina di Lidia) is the sequel to 1958's Hercules, the film that launched a thousand bad "sword and sandal" movies over the next decade.
Here, Hercules is travelling to Thebes for an important diplomatic mission, when he drinks from a magic spring and loses his memory. Then he spends a large hunk of the movie in the pleasure gardens of Queen Omphale of Lydia suffering from amnesia. Young Ulysses tries to help him regain his memory, while political tensions escalate in Thebes.
Compared to the last three Hercules films that I just watched, this film looks gorgeous. The wonderful sets and costumes are bathed in lush colours. There's even a musical number. And you've got to like any film that gives story credit to Aeschylus and Sophocles.
Reeves had an interesting career. He appeared in the early Ed Wood film Jailbait (interestingly, it's one of the few films he made where his voice wasn't dubbed), but became a superstar thanks to the success of Hercules. But he turned down the role of James Bond in Dr.No, and the role of the Man With No Name in A Fistful of Dollars. Chronic injuries forced him to retire from the movies and he passed away 1n 2000.

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