Le fatiche di Ercole (1958) Online
In this melange of characters and events from separate mythological stories, Hercules, demigod and superman, arrives in the ancient Greek kingdom of Iolcus to tutor Iphitus, son of king Pelias; immediately on arrival, he falls in love with the king's delectable, briefly clad daughter Iole. Before he can win her, he must succeed in a series of quests, in the course of which he teams up with Jason, true heir of Iolcus, whom he accompanies on the famous voyage of the Argonauts.
|Cast overview, first billed only:|
|Steve Reeves||-||Ercole (Hercules)|
|Sylva Koscina||-||Iole, Daugher of Pelias|
|Ivo Garrani||-||Pelias, King of Iolcus|
|Gianna Maria Canale||-||Antea, Queen of the Amazons|
|Mimmo Palmara||-||Iphitus, Son of Pelias|
|Lidia Alfonsi||-||The Sybil (as Lydia Alfonsi)|
|Luciana Paluzzi||-||Iole's Maid (as Luciana Paoluzzi)|
|Gian Paolo Rosmino||-||Aesculapius (as G.P. Rosmino)|
|Willi Colombini||-||Pollux (as Willy Colombini)|
During the scene in which Hercules uses chains against enemy soldiers, director Pietro Francisci became annoyed with Steve Reeves because he felt that Reeves wasn't swinging the chains hard enough to be convincing. Reeves claimed that he didn't want to swing the wooden chains (painted to look like they were metal) too hard because he didn't want to hurt the actors. In response, Francisci shouted back "If they don't get hurt, they don't get paid!"
Joseph E. Levine acquired the U.S. distribution rights to this film, which he retitled "Hercules", for $120,000. Levine called it, "One of the worst pictures I ever saw, but I knew it had great appeal. There was a market for anything then." Levine publicized it on TV and it grossed a million dollars in its first ten days.
There were two English-dubbed versions of the movie. The first version (later released by Image Entertainment on laserdisc) was done in Rome with Hercules voiced by Richard McNamara, an American GI who stayed in Italy after the war and dubbed hundreds of Italian films into English. The second version (available on VidAmerica video) was done at the Titra Sound Studio in New York City and featured the prolific New York-based voice actor George Gonneau. The UK release used the Rome version, but the print shown on BBC Television was a curious hybrid of both dubbings, with Steve Reeves' voice changing to that of a different actor in the middle of the movie.
The roar of the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece is actually Godzilla'a roar from Gojira (1954) (U.S. title: "Godzilla, King of the Monsters"). Joseph E. Levine had acquired and released that film three years earlier.
To take maximum advantage of the extensive (and expensive) television and radio campaign launched to promote the film in the USA, Joseph E. Levine pioneered the technique of "saturation booking" by using over 600 prints of this film. This was an unheard-number of prints for a U.S. release in the days of full-size movie theatres (not the small multiplexes we know today).
The "Cretan Bull" in this film is actually being played by a European Bison.
The film's cinematographer Mario Bava claimed credit for suggesting that Reeves grow a beard for the role.
The international success of this film and its sequel, "Hercules Unchained" (1959), made them the highest grossing films in the history of the Italian film industry.
According to Marvel Comics pioneer Stan Lee, this film was the main inspiration for the Marvel hero Hercules.
The film was passed over by the major U.S. distributors. An employee of MGM told former exhibitor Joseph E. Levine about it, and Levine flew to Italy to see it. He liked what he saw and acquired the U.S. rights. It became a smash hit and started the craze for Italian-made muscleman spectacles.
Writer-director Pietro Francisci was having trouble finding just the right person to portray Hercules. The problem was solved when his daughter suggested American bodybuilder-turned-actor 'Steve Reeves' whom she had seen in the MGM musical Athena (1954).
In the days before home video, this film and its sequel, Ercole e la regina di Lidia (1959) (U.S. title: "Hercules Unchained"), continued to have successful re-releases to theatres through the mid-1970s, even after they had appeared on network television and in television syndication.
This is the film that started the craze for movies about muscle-bound mythological heroes. By the time the genre had run its course in the mid-1960s, 170 such films had been produced in Italy. This represented approximately 10% of Italian film production during this period.
American distributor Joseph E. Levine spent more money promoting this film in the U.S. than its original Italian producers had spent making it in the first place.
This was the first film shot in Italy in the French Dyaliscope anamorphic widescreen system.
Among the merchandise tie-ins for this film was a comic book published by Dell. It had an initial order of 500,000 copies.
In 1962, Embassy Pictures reissued "Hercules" on a double feature with Attila (1954) with the tag line "The Mightiest Men In All The World! The Mightiest Show In All the World!"
In 1953, producer Edward Small announced a version with Lex Barker but it failed to materialise.
The love theme for Hercules and Antea was originally composed by Enzo Masetti for Il brigante Musolino (1950).