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Le fatiche di Ercole (1958) Online

Le fatiche di Ercole (1958) Online
Original Title :
Le fatiche di Ercole
Genre :
Movie / Adventure / Fantasy
Year :
Directror :
Pietro Francisci
Cast :
Steve Reeves,Sylva Koscina,Fabrizio Mioni
Writer :
Apollonios Rhodios,Pietro Francisci
Type :
Time :
1h 44min
Rating :
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. {locallinks-homepage}
Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve Reeves Steve Reeves - Ercole (Hercules)
Sylva Koscina Sylva Koscina - Iole, Daugher of Pelias
Fabrizio Mioni Fabrizio Mioni - Jason
Ivo Garrani Ivo Garrani - Pelias, King of Iolcus
Gianna Maria Canale Gianna Maria Canale - Antea, Queen of the Amazons
Arturo Dominici Arturo Dominici - Eurysteus
Mimmo Palmara Mimmo Palmara - Iphitus, Son of Pelias
Lidia Alfonsi Lidia Alfonsi - The Sybil (as Lydia Alfonsi)
Gabriele Antonini Gabriele Antonini - Ulysses
Aldo Fiorelli Aldo Fiorelli - Argos
Andrea Fantasia Andrea Fantasia - Laertes
Luciana Paluzzi Luciana Paluzzi - Iole's Maid (as Luciana Paoluzzi)
Afro Poli Afro Poli - Chironi
Gian Paolo Rosmino Gian Paolo Rosmino - Aesculapius (as G.P. Rosmino)
Willi Colombini 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).

User reviews



The movie that launched the career of muscle man Steve Reeves.... In the late 1950s Italian director Pietro Franicisi wanted to do a film about the exploits of the famous muscleman, "Hercules"...he had scoured actors all over Europe looking for a handsome, musclebound actor who could complement the role...soon his daughter who had seen Reeves in a couple of B films recommended Reeves to her father....the rest was history. Reeves was an out of work muscleman actor who reportedly took the role for about $40,000 US cash - quite a sum at the time for an unemployed actor. The rest as they say is history. When first released it was panned by the major US studios until a film producer named Joseph E. Levine took a big chance and bought all the rights to the film's USA release. After a major US advertising campaign on television and in the newspapers the film confounded the experts and for some strange reason became an international hit. The timing was right for some unknown reason for this cheaply made muscle man movie to become a hit. At the time fantasy films, such as the Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and others were big at the box office. Reeves incredible physique and handsome face were big attractions to the young boys and ladies who went to see the film. Levine hit the jackpot again when Francisi made "Hercules Unchained" a few months later after the release of "Hercules". "Hercules Unchained " made even more money, in fact an astounding amount in 1960 and became one of the year's biggest grossing films. Soon, Italian directors jumped on the bandwagon and starting churning out these muscleman epics by the dozens.....Gordon Scott, Mark Forrest,Reg Lewis, and Kirk Morris all tried to duplicate Reeves in these "epics".....and the public loved them. Reeves went on to make several more muscleman epics in the late 50s and early 60s playing Morgan the Pirate, The Thief of Bagdad, Goliath, The White Warrior, The Son of Spartacus and other muscleman epics. An odd twist to Reeves career was the fact that he reportedly turned down two roles that became international sensations: He was offered the role of James Bond by producer Cubby Broccoli and "The Man with No name" made popular by Clint Eastwood and made by Sergio Leone....for whatever reason Reeves turned the roles down....hard to understand. Reeves retired to ranching, his first love in the late 60s and raised cattle and horses until his death in 2001. The greatest physique ever seen on a man....probably the most admired bodybuilder of all time.


It's hard to believe that this movie is now 43 years old. Certainly this is a classic and a must see for all diehard Herc fans.

The movie starts off with a runaway chariot carrying a damsel in distress, Jole, princess and future bride of Hercules (played by the beautiful Sylvia Koscina) next we see and hear a tree being uprooted and the next scene we see Hercules carrying the tree and throws it in front of the chariot stopping the horses. The exhausted Jole faints in the arms of Hercules.

In the next scene, we see Hercules make his first pass at the beautiful Jole by offering her first take on the meal that he had hunted and then feared burned while rescuing Jole. She obliges and Hercules says; "I'll take my first bite right where your lips have touched." Jole stunned by her rescuer makes some unkind comments to Hercules at which point Hercules says; "I'm too hungry to help it."

We see Hercules perform the Labors of Hercules, defeat the Cretan Bull, the Nemian Lion and help Jason find the Golden Fleece and then coming to Jason and his Argonauts rescue as they are being defeated by the evil king. We see Hercules pull chains from the wall and then use them as a weapon to defeat the Kings army first by taking out the evil adversaries one by one and then by wrapping the chains around two pillars supporting the Temple and pulling the Temple down, killing the remainder of the Kings men.

Overall, a good, fun movie. To the critics of this movie, no you won't find a great plot or academy award acting but I am reminded of comments made by the great Kirk Douglas, that people come to movies to be entertained and have fun and not necessarily just to see the movies with the best plot and greatest acting.

Hercules went on to become the biggest box office hit of its time and Reeves went on to become the highest paid actor and box office champion (tied with Sophie Loren) in his time.

This movie started it all. For bodybuilding fans, this is the closest you will ever get to seeing Reeves anywhere even close to top physique shape. The slimmed down Reeves became even slimmer and slimmer as his movie career continued

I would also recommend Last Days of Pompeii and The White Warrior. Son of Spartacus (a sequel to Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas) and Duel of the Titans are also interesting Reeves movies.

In 1977, NBC showed Hercules on network television as the Monday movie of the week followed by Hercules Unchained as the NBC Sunday movie of the week, 20 years after their release in theatres. Reeves movies have become classics and well worth your time to watch, even now 43 years later. Steve Reeves was the first and the best.


This is actually two stories in one: the first is about Hercules trying to find his niche in the world as a rugged adventurer and champion of the oppressed, the 2nd is about Jason and the Argonauts and Herc looking for the Golden Fleece.

Longer and slower than some of the successors and with quite possibly less fight scenes, these are still the best due to the respect and attention given to the characters. Reeves, looking like a pumped up Jonathan Frakes, is probably still the best of the lot, though we only got to see him fight lions, tigers, bulls, monkey people and Primo Carnera as opposed to monsters, but maybe it was better this way. Made things more serious and real world like.

So in other words, don't count this one out!


Joseph E. Levine's timing when he decided to capitalize on this low-budget Italian epic was so right that it has become a legendary example of film promotion. That aside, it's amazing still how the dynamic image of Steve Reeves and a multimillion dollar saturation campaign was able to make this one of the most profitable films of it's time. That bad word of mouth didn't kill this picture's boxoffice only goes to show you that kitsch can be appreciated when it delivers, and HERCULES is colossal kitsch that delivers sensational, fetishistic, sexist spectacle in it's cheapest, most primitive form. Tastelessly tasteful.


I saw this film in Brazil when I was 10 and I never could forget it. It is amazing even today. Well produced and directed, it is may be the best of all the Sword and Sandal genre. Steve Reeves was not the awful creature the critics said. And Gianna Maria Canale, the queen of the amazons, deserves the title she once had as the most beautiful woman in the world.


When I was a boy, one of my major interests was Greek mythology. If memory serves me correctly, I was introduced to it all through the 1960s animated series The Mighty Hercules, which was on TV all the time. From that point on, I read as much as I could about Greek myths, and considered myself sort of an expert (for a kid that is).

When I was 12 years old, my family and I traveled to Montreal, Quebec to visit relatives. During our stay, I was taken to a local video store to rent a movie for the evening. It was there that I discovered Steve Reeves' Hercules. Hercules Unchained was also on the rack, but since I was only allowed to rent one movie, I chose the one that (by reading the back of the box) obviously came out first.

That night, I watched the movie while my parents and relatives played cards in the adjoining room. I was amazed to say the least. I could not get enough of it, and remember telling my cousin (upon returning home) about my discovery. He was enthralled when I told him about all the scenes that stuck out in my mind - Hercules pulling the tree from the ground, The Quest for the Golden Fleece, the dragon... there was just so much excitement surrounding it all. Together, he and I tracked down another copy of the video via our local library and he was brought full-force to the same level of enjoyment I had experienced that night in Montreal. That was in the summer of 1989... now, almost 18 years later, I can truly say this movie still remains very important to me. It's not just for the fact that it was a good movie, but because of all the memories that I have attached to it.

In the years that followed, I soon gained my own version of the film (and its sequel) on VHS and today I have them both on DVD. I would like to find widescreen versions of the films on DVD some day, perhaps with special features and the whole bit.

It has provided me with a lifetime of happy memories, and I urge anyone out there who has never seen it to please take the opportunity if it ever presents itself. You won't be disappointed.


¨Huge and immortal was the strength of Hercules as the world and the Gods to which the belonged , but one day men crossed his path . They were ready to sacrifice their brief treasure , life for knowledge , for justice, for love..¨ Greek mythology in Peplum style with a musclebound Steve Reeves as Hercules. First Hercules saga with lots of action and some nice special effects and colorful lighting by Mario Bava. A cheerful script fillets Greek legends and adds action to the fast-moving narrative. Hercules goes to the court of king Pelias (Ivo Garrani) located in Iolco for teaching his son Iphitos (Mimmo Palmara) the use of arms. The gorgeous daughter of Pelias , the princess Iole (Sylva Koscina), explains Hercules the story about the killing his uncle , taking over by his father and the greatest robbing of the kingdom , the Golden Fleece. Some people think the king Pelias has usurped the throne by means of fratricide. Hercules along with Jason (Mioni) , Argos, Ulysses (Antonini), Castor , Pollux , Laestres (Andrea Fantasia) sail on the Argo-ship to the land of Colchis looking for the Golden Calf in this mythological romp. This is one of the best Peplum or sword and sandals film from the history, retelling the legend of Hercules or Herakles in Greek language and Jason in search of the famous fleece for uncharted sea. The film deals about the myth Hercules ,he travels in search for the fabled Golden fleece located in the Colchis. It's based on poem of Greek poet named Apollonio of Rhodas written in third century titled ¨The Argonautika¨(250 B.C) , it's freely adapted by Prieto Francisci with screenplay by Ennio De Concini .In order to stifle the anger of Pelias , Hercules and Jason must retrieve the magical calf housed from distant land of Colchis and bring it toward city of Iolco. Hercules and Jason assemble a motley, brave crew formed by valiant band as Castor , Orpheo, Esculapio and the traitor Euristeo (Arturo Dominici),among others. Jason must fight an enormous monster that protects the Golden fleece. Hercules successfully leads his crew of would-be heroes throughout a series of outstanding adventures .They sail unharmed along sea storm, suffering risks and incredible adventures, encountering a giant monster, scheming witch and Amazons (Gina Rovere)led by Antea (Giann Maria Canale).

This exciting story deals with superhero Reeves-Hercules must use all his strength to save Jason and woman he loves from Pelias and Eristeo .The one that began it all and created the Peplum with multitudes of mythological issues . Steve Reeves is magnificent as the mythic hero who finds several risked situations while attempting to win over his true love, fighting against Eristeo and Pelias for his own survival . Pietro Francisci hired Steve Reeves , being Mr. America and Mr. Universe , who previously had worked for Ed Wood in a lowest thriller called Jail Bait (1954).It is widely considered to be one of the top 10 greatest Peplum films of all time. This great film will surely attract a whole new generation of classic movie fans. And for seasoned cinematic connoseuirs, Hercules will rekindle an era of film making at its best. This is Steve Reeves' first film portrayal of Hercules , it is followed by ¨Hercules unchained¨ that is in certain ways, better than his first . For others who simply enjoy watching timeless pieces with icons such as Steve Reeves. The corpulent Steve Reeves was a hunk man who made lots of roman epic films also called ¨Musclemen movies¨. Luck's Reeves changed when Italian director Pietro Francisci persuaded him to go overseas to star ¨Hercules¨ and sequel ¨Hercules and queen of Lydia also titled Hercules unchained ¨ that served as the prototypes of all cloak-and-sandal movies to come and both of them became a surprise US hit smash . Later on, he followed with ¨Goliath and the Barbarians, The giant of Marathon, The Trojan horse, The son of Spartacus and The Avenger¨ among them The film even rips off from Homero's Odyssey with participation of the mythic Ulisses . As usual in Musclemen films appears the choreographic girls dancers and lots of action with several adventures including spectacular fights ,storms, and some good effects by the expert Mario Bava. The sets and production design impress too . This elaborate recounting is well directed by Pietro Francisci though with little relation with the poem by Apolonio of Rodas . The film contains an evocative and spectacular music by Masset well conducted by Carlo Savina .Fun for the whole family though it tends toward the ponderous at times but for the most part, it's a marvelous movie . Other adaptation about this classic story are: ¨The giants of Thesalia¨(1960) by Riccardo Fedra , Jason and the Argonauts(1963)by Don Chaffey with Todd Armstrong and for TV(2000) by Nick Willing and with Jason London . Rating : Good , high recommended for Peplum fans .


One day a friend of mine came to me and said that he brings a great classics. I was ignoring him because I thought that he brought a pile of Z-production films.Suddenly I saw an attractive poster with Steve and ,when I first saw the movie I was charmed by Steves performances. Imagine how girls in 50s reacted on his deep voice.In my opinion there is a lack of quality in script , but nice scenography , good cast and music have made movie that you can watch hundred times and you still wont be bored. I have noticed a couple of mistakes but I still think that movie is great. As all movies from that time this one also poses a great spirit which now-days movies don't...


You can thank this epic for the slew of Muscleman Movies that hit the screen in the 1950s and 1960s.

This is a loose re-working of "Jason And The Golden Fleece," tailored for the Hercules character, with elements of the Samson story tossed in for good measure. Steve Reeves seems to enjoy himself in the title role. Most of the cinematography is striking. Future director Mario Bava is credited with lighting and special effects, which didn't hurt this picture one bit. The pace is leisurely but there are enough wild critters (aside from the heroes and villains), pretty women, fights and actors in dinosaur suits to keep things lively. HERCULES may not be quite as muscle-headed and bone-brained as its many imitators, but the off-kilter dubbing and a few dialog gems were definitely a sign of things to come.


Everybody who enjoyed this larger-than-life, but straightforward mythological adventure epic should know that "Attila" director Pietro Francisci's "Hercules" spawned what came to be derisively known as the sword and sandal genre. These films constituted a sub-genre of the Hollywood historical movie and the plots occurred either during classical antiquity in Greece and Rome or Biblical times in other Mediterranean locales. Basically, these European produced films featured a brawny, footloose warrior as the protagonist who performs incredible feats of strength that enabled him to destroy supernatural monsters, topple evil tyrants, and free enslaved peoples. Sometimes, the hero was a gladiator like Kirk Douglas in "Spartacus." Often, the hero's name varied when these films arrived in America. The muscular champion was called Hercules, Samson, Goliath or he was a son of Hercules with an entirely different name. In Italy, however, the strongman hero was always called Maciste.

Although "Hercules" was the first of some 300 sword and sandal sagas to follow until the Spaghetti western eclipsed the genre around 1964, the Italians had been producing sword and sandal movies long before "Hercules." One of the first major silent films, director Giovanni Pastrone's "Cabiria" appeared in 1914 and concerned the abduction of the eponymous little girl that pirates kidnapped during an eruption of Mount Etna during the third century B.C. A Roman spy and his mesomorphic muscle-bound slave Maciste rescued Cabiria. Aside from revitalizing a moribund genre, Francisci's "Hercules" is notable not only for its star, bodybuilder Steve Reeves of "Mr. Universe" fame, but also for lenser Mario Bava whose widescreen pictorial compositions as well as his atmospheric lightning. Reeves went on to star in several more pepla, and Bava later helmed "Hercules in the Haunted World." "Hercules Unchained" with Reeves and co-star Sylva Koscina followed "Hercules."

Aesthetically, "Hercules" qualifies as a serviceable effort. Francisci and his scenarists derived their screenplay from Apollonius of Rhodes' Greek epic poem "Argonautica" that dealt with Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece. In Francisci's film, Hercules literally usurps Jason as the hero when in reality the son of Jupiter played a peripheral role in the exploit. British director Don Chaffey helmed the best cinematic version of the Golden Fleece myth in 1963 with his exciting "Jason and the Argonauts" that boasted the superb stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen. One of the problems with "Hercules" is Jason recovers the fleece rather too easily from a giant reptile that sleeps near the tree where the fleece dangles. Reeves has a few uncomfortable moments when he goes on the rampage, literally blowing his cool, and sounds a mite unbelievable. Mind you, this was the bodybuilder's first starring role so he can be pardoned. Francisci plays almost everything straight down the line so nothing appears campy. Of course, some of the hand-to-hand combat scenes where Hercules tangles with livestock, like a lion and a bison, looks staged. Typically, the animal trainer would substitute for the star or the director would orchestrate the fights so ersatz animal heads and paws could be deployed. Consequently, while it is an entertaining bit of hokum, "Hercules" isn't as much outlandish as later strong man sagas.

"Hercules" unfolds with a surefire scene straight out of a traditional western. A beautiful woman, Princess Iole (Sylva Koscina of "Michael Strogoff"), shatters the afternoon calm as she struggles to restrain a pair of runaway horses hauling her chariot helter-skelter through the landscape. She scatters a herd of goats. Dramatically, Francisci cuts to a close-up of a tree uprooted and then shows Hercules (Steve Reeves of "Jailbait") slamming the tree down in front of the horses. "I thank the gods for providing me such a strong man when I needed him," Iole says. Carrying her away from the chariot in his arms, Hercules sets her on a rock. "I'll admit that the sight of those runaway horses had me worried about you." Hercules suspects Iole is royalty from the standard on her chariot. Indeed, Iola is the daughter of King Pelias of Iolcus (Ivo Garrani of "Roland the Mighty"), and our hero is in route to train Pelias' son Prince Iphitus (Mimmo Palmara of "Attila") in the art of warfare. Iphitus hates Hercules from the moment he lays eyes on him. Iole furnishes Hercules with the history of her father's suspicious rise to power and the death of his brother the king. Afterward, Hercules accompanies her back to the palace. Hercules humiliates Iphitus in front of everybody when the Theban shows Jason, considerably weaker than Iphitus, how to shoot an arrow and strike bull's-eye. Later, Hercules hurls the discus farther than Iphitus. When a lion terrorizes the court and kills five people, Hercules pursues the beast. A boastful Iphitus interferes, and the lion kills the Prince before Hercules can dispose of the beast. A grief-stricken Pelias tells Hercules the only way he can redeem himself is to kill the Cretan bull. Later, Pelias gives Hercules three months to retrieve the stolen Golden Fleece to prove that Jason is the rightful heir to the throne. A sea voyage follows and Jason reclaims the Golden Fleece after an encounter with a fakey dragon.

"Hercules" proved to be a blockbuster during its North American release and the success that the film enjoyed in the United States can be attributed to Joseph E Levine. After every Hollywood studio passed on Francisci's film, Levine bought it for a modest $120,000, dubbed in English dialogue, and abbreviated the title from "The Labors of Hercules" to simply "Hercules." Levine's folly wound up raking in a veritable fortune from its U.S. release and sequels that followed. Levine pioneered the practice that is now known as 'saturation' booking and opened "Hercules" in 600 theaters. According to the Turner Classic Movies website, this method of opening a movie was "unheard of" in the 1950s. Levine relied on radio and television advertising to arouse the public's curiosity and he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.


Don't look for an Oscar moments here as the acting is wooden for the most part and the special effects a bit far-fetched, but this is a film that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Mr. Universe 1950, Steve Reeves became a star with this film. People didn't come to see acting, they just wanted him to take his shirt off. He would be the role model for future Hercules like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, who gave him his due.

After performing all the stunt he is famous for, he saves the day for Jason (Fabrizio Mioni, who went on to a long TV career in America) and rowed off into the sunset with Croatian beauty Sylva Koscina.

This is the stuff epics are made of.


I had to leave some comment because this is the first movie I remember going to see.

After the movie I remember acting out the labors of Hercules in front of the movie-house with my friends after the show. This movie seemed to put an end to all cowboys and my other heroes Roy Rogers and Trigger. I was only 7 years old but it seems like yesterday.

This movie was very impressive since after 42 years I still admire Steve Reeves. I understand he is still living a very healthy life even now.


I had seen this movie many years before when I was a teenager. Then, I loved the movie because it had elements like strong good man fighting against the bad, beautiful women, myth, and good movie techniques regarding those days. By chance, I watched it again today and I enjoyed it again -maybe nostalgia played a major role-. But I missed those days films; noble feelings, not exploiting sexuality too much etc. I remember watching the movie together with some of my friends and deciding that we could start body building as Steve Reeves did. Maybe we hoped to be like Mr. Reeves. Indeed, we started the exercises -and of course, we couldn't have a physical look like he did- However, I can frankly say that we had benefited from our efforts regarding our healths -and surely we had builded a more good looking body- I recommend to our coevals that they watch this movie and similar ones from time to time.


I've loved this film since I've seen it as a pre-teen. Since then I have enjoyed many of Steve Reeves films. I am glad he lived a long fruitful life. Now he is with the Gods in Olympus. Rest in peace Hercules.


Wonderful adventure, filled with strength and beauty. Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina at his best. See Hercules fighting the minotaur and the lion of Crete. Enjoy the selection of the argonauts and the search of the Golden Fleece. Amazons, cavemen, and dinosaurs make this film fun to watch. Look for Minoan details at the palace.

Of course, mythology was twisted to accommodate Steve Reeves. But Homer would have loved it.


Basically this a movie about Hercules falling into the one adventure after the other, without some times feeling an obvious connection between those events. It makes this a pretty disjointed movie to watch at times. If this movie was being made this present day in exactly the same way it would be an absolutely terrible movie but the fact that this was made in 1958 makes it a good and defining one for its genre.

It's sometimes laughable how fake this movie is looking, for instance when Hercules is fighting a lion and later a buffalo, who are both obvious puppets in the close-up scenes with Steve Reeves. You can call it part of the charm of these old type of adventure movies but it still looks ridicules, regardless.

But besides that all it's a rather good looking movie, with its sets costumes and of course settings. It's an Italian movie, so it features lots of beautiful landscapes.

The story is simple and perhaps not as action filled or fast paced as it could had been but it still is an adventurous one. The swashbuckling and adventure genre had pretty much died already when it was 1958. This is a movie that obviously tries to revive a genre, with some new more 'modern' changes and elements in it. After this 'historic' and mythological movies such as "Jason and the Argonauts". "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and "Spartacus" were made. It's hard to say if this movie influenced any of those movies but fact is that this movie was a popular one at its time, also in America. Therefor it's a really thinkable that this movie played at least some part in redefining the genre.

Not great, most especially not by todays standards but considering the time it was made, a good genre movie that is adventurous and therefor also has entertainment value in it.




Being the film that really cemented the appeal of the peplum subgenre – to say nothing of the reputation of one of its most popular icons, the muscle-bound Steve Reeves – this film has much to answer for but, unfortunately, I have to say that the archetype (and its sequel) didn't exactly live up to expectations! I had watched both Hercules adventures as a kid on Italian TV and this recent re-acquaintance came via the R1 Goodtimes DVD, which presented the American-dubbed version (as prepared by Joseph E. Levine) in a washed-out, lamentably panned-and-scanned print!

Mind you, the film is still enjoyable along the way but also rather juvenile and uninspired – centering as it does around the famous mythological tale of the search for the Golden Fleece (whose definitive screen rendition remains the splendid Ray Harryhausen extravaganza JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS [1963], a personal childhood favorite of mine, where Hercules was portrayed by Nigel Greene!). Two other Italian adaptations of Greek legends, both originally by Homer, proved altogether more satisfactory – the template for HERCULES was clearly the lively ULYSSES (1954), an Italian/US venture involving the likes of Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn among the cast and Ben Hecht and Irwin Shaw as co-writers (that film's titular figure actually appears here as a brash youth!), while THE Trojan HORSE (1961) gave Steve Reeves himself a more mature role in Aeneas and survives as possibly his best vehicle.

Throughout the course of the film, our 'immortal' hero is seen performing several athletic feats (the original title, in fact, translates to THE LABORS OF HERCULES), romances "Euro-Cult" favorite Sylva Koscina, resists the temptations of the Amazon women (led by Gianna Maria Canale from I VAMPIRI [1957]), fights a lion, a dragon and a tribe of monkey men(!), routs the traitor among his shipping crew (BLACK Sunday [1960]'s Arturo Dominici) and, finally, brings down a temple by pulling at its columns a' la Samson (thus paving the way for Jason to assume his rightful place on the throne).


When I was a boy I thrilled to the exploits of Steve Reeves and his cohorts with the massive pectoral muscles performing feats of strength and derring-do in ancient times, but as an adult I found it a lot slower going. There are all sorts of legendary characters here--Herc himself, Ulysses, Jason, the Amazons--and a classic story about the pursuit of the Golden Fleece, but I found it hard to follow and worse than that, just plain dull. It's amazing, though, how much more interesting I found Sylva Koscina this time around than I did when I was a kid.


Those impressive sets built in Italy for some major productions like Quo Vadis and Ben-Hur were not wasted. The Italian cinema found serious use for them with a series sand and sandal epics that lasted through the 60s. This film brought to our shores in America by Joseph E. Levine and it started a craze for these peplum films. I am told that this is the accepted term for these films, the peplum being the kind of tunics the male characters wear.

Steve Reeves wore as little as possible the better to show off that muscular body that it took years to perfect. The success of Hercules internationally led to a series of muscle dudes from Europe mostly taking Anglo names for our markets doing films if not with Hercules in the title we would Samson, Goliath, Maciste, etc.

The plot here interweaves several of the legends of Hercules plus the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece in which Hercules was a supporting player. Sylva Koscina plays a Greek princess and Luciana Paluzzi a couple of women who did have careers on this side of the pond will probably be the only other names we know.

Back in 1958 this got a considerable juvenile audience. Today we get a more sophisticated Hercules from Kevin Sorbo, etc. Reeves is not the greatest actor in the world, but really who cares.


The film that launched a thousand sets of muscular pecs and biceps and made a household name of American bodybuilder-turned-actor Steve Reeves, "Hercules" (original Italian title: "Le fatiche di Ercole," "The Labours of Hercules") was an international box-office smash that spawned several dozen imitators in the mid-20th Century known as "peplum," for the tunics characters often wore. Collectively, these films were a return to silent-era commercial successes of Italian cinema -- the original Peplum films featuring Italian folk hero Maciste that were popular from the mid-1910s through the mid- 1920s -- and were an attempt (successful, as it turned out) to capitalize on the popularity of American-financed sword-and-sandal epics like "Quo Vadis," "Spartacus," and "Ulysses." Reportedly, director Pietro Francisci had wanted to make a Hercules film for several years but couldn't find a leading man until his daughter spotted Reeves in the film "Athena." Reeves wasn't necessarily an actor of particular subtlety or nuance, but he was incredibly handsome and had a championship physique that set the standard for mid-century bodybuilding. His imposing physical presence and blustery he-man forcefulness made him the perfect actor to embody the legendary strongman and Reeves makes the most of the role. He sets a high bar for portraying the mythological hero and in many respects has never been equaled, though a few actors like Dwayne Johnson have successfully managed to play off Reeves's legacy by modifying the direction of the character. The rest of the cast doesn't fare so well, in part because of the blunt English dubbing and also because the story is a mish- mash of myth that doesn't gel into anything particularly coherent. It's as if Francisci, who's credited with the adaptation, put "Hamilton's Mythology" into a blender and layered in the odd legendary labor wherever it could conceivably fit. We get Ulysses as an eager protégé, Jason's quest with his Argonauts as background, and a confused princess Iole as sometimes enthusiastic and sometimes reluctant love interest. (I'm not sure Sylva Koscina really knew what to make of this role.) Still, the scenery is beautiful and is matched by the attractive cast, and some of the action is amusingly low-tech in an endearing manner. I do feel bad for the drugged lion (never identified in the English-dubbed version as the Nemian Lion) Reeves has to tangle with, and bad for Reeves when it's clear in some shots that he's wrestling a stuffed prop. Had PETA been hanging around Cinecitta in the late 1950s, I suspect film history would be quite different. Despite its clunky storytelling and questionable treatment of animals, there is a lot of entertainment value here still, almost 60 years after it single-handedly spurred a renaissance in Italian epics. If you want something visual that's not too abysmal, you could do a lot worse than this old Steve Reeves movie, though this is one case where the direct sequel, "Hercules Unchained," surpasses the original.


If I had seen this one first, I may have been a bit kinder to it. It does look all right considering it was made in the 50's, but by the time I watched this one I had seen three other Hercules films from this era and after watching this one I can honestly say, they are about all the same. They all follow the same basic flow and have almost the same plot points as I do believe there is always a strange interlude where the heroes are captured or something by beautiful ladies. This one does do some things differently than the other films in that Hercules does not factor in to a lot of the scenes. There is a part where a fairly decent looking monster arises, but Hercules is nowhere to be found. He also is not one of the men who ends up charmed by the island of lovely ladies. Of course, this is not necessarily a good thing as I would have liked to see him and his awesome strength battle the monster. No problem with him not being enchanted by the ladies, saw that way too much in the other films.

The story has Hercules saving a girl who turns out to be a princess of the man he is coming to assist, who may or may not be behind the murder of a king and whose son lost the golden fleece and something or another. Like other Hercules films, a lot of stuff is going on in the plot while not all that much stuff is going on as far as action on the screen. Hercules agrees to train the acting king's son and soon finds himself holding the man's son as he is killed by a lion which enrages the king, but soon Hercules finds the king who was murdered son and they embark on a quest to find the golden fleece that will reveal the identity of the killer. Meanwhile, they stop at an island for Amazon women by chance and Hercules has a strange relationship with the acting king's daughter.

I saw this movie on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and I have to say they edited this one almost too much. I know there are time constraints, but man it was hard following this one at times due to the cuts. It was also an okay episode, but nothing special as I have already seen three other Hercules riffed by the gang on the satellite of love and like I said right from the beginning it follows the exact same formula as other Hercules films so we are getting similar jokes. I notice that Joel did a lot more sequels and such during his run as the shows human hostage than did Mike as he also did nearly all the Gamera films and Master Ninja I and II and a couple of others. It made for a funny episode, but nothing I have not seen before.

This was the best of the Hercules films, even with the cuts one could tell more effort was put into this one than the others. It was the first one so that is understandable, back in the day when a sequel was made it had a lower budget as the series progressed with films like these as they usually saw diminishing returns. Sure, there were exceptions like the James Bond films, but for the most part sequels never did quite what their predecessors did. Unlike today where the sequel for a hit gets a larger budget. It had its moments, but like all the other Hercules films there just is not enough action going on to keep me entertained for its entire running time.


Brave and honest legendary strongman Hercules (perfectly embodied by the brawny and handsome Steve Reeves) joins the noble Jason (solid Fabrizio Mioni) and his Argonauts on a perilous quest to find the golden fleece. During their dangerous journey Hercules and company encounter a tribe of beautiful, yet lethal Amazons, a bunch of savage apemen, and the lumbering dinosaur that guards the golden fleece. Director/co-writer Pietro Francisco relates the absorbing story at a steady pace, handles the fanciful subject matter with admirable respect and sincerity, maintains a serious tone throughout, and stages the action scenes with reasonable gusto (a lively climactic large scale battle is especially exciting). Reeves as Hercules makes for a touching and sympathetic hero as he wishes to be mortal and have human emotions so he can win over the favor of fair maiden princess Iole (the lovely Sylva Koscina). Hercules' feats of incredible strength are pretty nifty and stirring; highlights include wrestling both a ferocious lion and an equally vicious bull, pulling a tree out of the ground by the roots, and knocking over enormous pillars. The good acting by a competent cast qualifies as another substantial plus: Giana Maria Canale as ravishing Amazon queen Antea, Ivo Garrani as the weak and pathetic King Pelias, Arturo Dominici as the evil, treacherous Eurysteus, Gabriele Antonini as the eager Ulysses, and Mimmo Palmara as the arrogant Iphitus. Mario Bava's gorgeous widescreen cinematography gives the picture an impressively expansive scope. Enzo Masetti's robust, rousing score likewise does the trick. A fun flick.


It's amazing that this first 1950s Hercules film was the stimulus that led to bazillions of Hercules and Maciste films over the next 15 years. Why is this so hard to believe? Well, you'd expect that this film would be really, really good since it was such an important film--and you'd be 100% wrong. This mish-mash film was just as bad as many of the later films and is only marginally watchable. Not surprisingly, it has passed into the public domain--after all, who would want to renew rights to this film?!

Some of the film's problems may or may not exist in the original Italian print. I don't know, as I have only just watched one of the English dubbed versions. The biggest and most obvious problem are the voice actors--their voices are too mechanical and bigger than life--so much so that they seem nothing like real people at times. The original Italian voices might be a lot better. Another problem (mostly for history freaks like myself) is that the films are a bizarre melange of both Greek AND Roman mythology--with Roman and Greek names interspersed throughout the film and the stories often bear little semblance to the originals. This is very sloppy but could also be the fault of the dubbers--perhaps the original film was based only on Greek or Roman characters--not both. Maybe in the original Italian it all made more sense.

However, despite the sloppy dubbing, another major problem is that the film has too much in the way of plot. There are enough stories for two films. Why they chose to combine the story of Jason and the Argonauts seeking the golden fleece (a Greek tale) AND Hercules (Roman) dealing with an annoying king and his really annoying son is beyond me--especially because both characters could easily have several films of just their own adventures. In fact, with the story of Jason, huge portions of the tale are missing (such as the most important part--his relationship with Medea and her father) and the Hercules one simply doesn't look anything like the classical tales--nothing.

The film has a few fun moments, but overall it looks cheap and sloppy--like most Hercules films. Some of the characters make no sense at all (such as the princess who loves Hercules but fights with him when Herc sets out to do EXACTLY what she'd asked him to do) and some are so one-dimensional they looked like they were written by a 3rd grader. If you LIKE cheap and sloppy films (I know I sure do), then this is definitely for you. If not, then see the Disney version. It's also very bad history and bastardizes the story terribly, but is still much closer to the original source material than this silly film.


This is one of the best movies ever. This is a great movie. It has a great story line. It also has great acting. It is kind of scary in a few parts. This is one of the best movies of all time.


Copyright 1957 by Embassy Pictures. Presented by Joseph E. Levine. Released in the U.S.A. through Warner Bros: July 1959. New York opening at neighborhood cinemas: 22 July 1959. U.K. release through Archway: May 1959. London opening at the Cameo-Royal. Australian release through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: 26 March 1959 (sic). Running times: 9,987 feet, 111 minutes (Aust), 105 minutes (UK), 103 (USA). Original Italian title: "Le Fatiche di Ercole".

NOTES: 4th to "Auntie Mame", "The Nun's Story" and "Rio Bravo" as Warner Bros top-grossing domestic release of 1959. By way of contrast, the movie did virtually no business at all in Australia. After deducting modest advertising and distribution expenses, M-G-M actually lost money on the deal. The U.K. figures are midway between the Australian disaster and the American runaway success. (A DVD was available from EDI Video. Rating: 7/10. This is not a wide-screen print.)

COMMENT: The movie that started the craze for Italian sword-and- sandal pictures, was actually one of the funniest pictures to reach U.S. screens in years — although the humor of course was not deliberate. True, a tongue-in-cheek style may have helped to make this nonsense even more amusing, but we doubt it. One of the movie's assets is that everyone on screen seems to be taking all this lumbering rubbish so seriously.

A sort of Homeric Tarzan, heavy on sex and mixed-up mythology, "Hercules" also proved the biggest surprise box-office smash in Hollywood's memory. Most of the movie is grounded in muddled mythology, jumbled with snips of The Iliad and a couple of chapters from the Bible. The scriptwriters spare no pains to throw everything into the melting pot. In the process, they seem to get Hercules mixed up with Samson, the Amazons with the ladies of Lemnos. But no matter. Like a white-washed Samson, good scout Herc topples pillars on horses and men, breaks iron chains as if they were zippers, and routs a whole army single-handed. What more could you ask of a pseudo Homeric/Biblical hero?

The American distributor, Joseph E. Levine, paid only $120,000 for the U.S./Canadian rights, yet cleaned up $4.7 million at domestic ticket-windows alone.