Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: Le Fatiche di Ercole
Italy/Spain, 1958. Embassy Pictures, Galatea Film, O.S.C.A.R., Urania Film. Screenplay by Pietro Francisci, Ennio De Concini, Gaio Frattini, Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, adaptation by Pietro Francisci, based on the poem The Argonautica by Apollonios Rhodios. Cinematography by Mario Bava. Produced by Federico Teti. Music by Enzo Masetti. Production Design by Flavio Mogherini. Costume Design by Giulio Coltellacci. Film Editing by Mario Serandrei.
The film that launched decades of gladiator movies and ignited the career of Steve Reeves, whose beautiful face and impressive physique more than made up for passable if not amazing acting talents (here he is dubbed anyway). He plays the legendary hero who, in this tale, is hired by the king of Iolcus to be the tutor to prince Iphitus. Hercules falls in love with the king’s daughter Iole but is charged with accomplishing a number of impossible tasks to win her, eventually meeting up with Jason, who turns out to be the true heir to the kingdom and whose own voyage to obtain the golden fleece becomes one that Hercules joins. One big set piece follows another in what is a beautifully easy watch, a highly self-aware adventure whose gorgeous photography (by Mario Bava) and stunning set and costume designs still make it gleam after all these years. Reeves himself is perfectly affable in the lead, stunning to look at but also sympathetic, his eternal fame to follow not the least bit difficult to understand.