Hercules Unchained

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Hercules Unchained

Sci-Fi, Adventure | 105 mins | Released: 1959
Director: Pietro Francisci
Starring: Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Sylvia Lopez, Patrizia Della Rovere, Primo Carnera, Carlo D'Angelo, Gabriele Antonini
Our Rating: 5
Color

In Hercules Unchained, Hercules is asked to intervene in a quarrel between two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, over who should rule Thebes. Before he can complete this task, Hercules drinks from a magic spring and is hypnotized by a harem girl who dances the “Dance of Shiva” Hercules then loses his memory and becomes the captive of Queen Omphale of Lydia. The Queen keeps men until she tires of them, and then has them made into statues. While young Ulysses tries to help him regain his memory, Hercules’ wife, Iole, finds herself in danger from Eteocles, the current ruler of Thebes, who plans on throwing her to the wild beasts in his entertainment arena. Hercules slays three tigers in succession and rescues his wife, then assists the Theban army in repelling mercenary attackers hired by Polynices. The two brothers ultimately fight one another for the throne and end up killing each other; the good high priest Creon is elected by acclaim.

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Movie Notes:

Hercules Unchained (Italian: Ercole e la regina di Lidia, “Hercules and the Queen of Lydia”) is a 1959 Italian-French epic fantasy feature film starring Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina in a story about two warring brothers and Hercules’ tribulations in the court of Queen Omphale. Hercules Unchained is the sequel to the Reeves vehicle Hercules (1958) and marks Reeves’ second – and last – appearance as Hercules.

The film’s screenplay is loosely based upon various Greek myths and dramas. It was written by Ennio De Concini and Pietro Francisci with Francisci directing and Bruno Vailati and Ferruccio De Martino producing the film.

Composer Enzo Masetti retired after completing the score for this film, in which he uses material from his previous work, Hercules (1958). These two scores became the most famous of his compositions, internationally.

French-born model-turned-actress Sylvia Lopez was already ill with leukemia at the time of filming. She was only able to complete one more film in 1959 and died at age 26 while working on another film.

Antaeus, who dwarfs even Steve Reeves, was the final character played by former world heavyweight boxing champion Primo Carnera.

Review
Spectacular Greek adventure with the muscle man hero Hercules-Steve Reeves
Author: ma-cortes – 11 July 2010
“The movie opens with the musclebound mythical Hercules ( Steve Reeves ), his recent wife Iole (Sylva Koscina), and the young Ulysses (Gabriel Antonini) setting off for the city of Thebes , continuing the end of the quest for the Golden Fleece (depicted in the former picture , Hercules , that was essentially a recounting of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts). Their trip is interrupted when Hercules must do battle with the giant Anteus (Primo Carnera), whose strength seems to exceed his own until he realizes that Anteus is the son of the earth goddess, Gea, and can’t be defeated on land. On their arrival in Thebes, the trio discovers that the kingdom is in the midst of civil war , Oedipus (Cesare Fantoni), the blind old king, is dying, and his two sons, Polynices (Mimmo Palmara) and Eteocles (Sergio Fantoni), are confronting for the throne and threatening to destroy each other and the populace. Hercules must leave Iole in the hands of one side in order to try and settle the dispute between the two would-be kings. While en route between the two armed camps, however, he is put under the spell of Omphale (Sylvia Lopez), the Queen of Lydia. Hercules drinks from a magic spring and lost his records, then the Queen casts out his memory, is seduced and tangles him as a lover, in addition, Ulysses in tow pretending to be his deaf-mute servant. Ulysses must figure out how to keep himself alive, restore Hercules’ record, get them both out of Omphale’s grasp before she tires of amnesiac Hercules and has him killed and get them both back to Thebes before the kingdom is burned to the ground. His solution arrives in the form of his father, Laertes ( Andrea Fantasia ), and Hercules’ companions as Argo (Aldo Fiorelli) the shipbuilder and the Argonauts from his voyage for the Golden Fleece. They all escape Omphale’s clutches and arrive at Thebes where the political tensions rise as war has broken out between the Edipo’s sons and their armies, furthermore his new spouse finds herself in mortal rise. In a breathtaking denouement, Hercules brings his chariot into the middle of the thunderous fighting, knocking down assault towers and sweeping cavalry before him to halt the battle.
This mythological movie is plenty of adventures, emotions, thrills, atmospheric settings and colorful scenarios well photographed by the maestro Mario Bava. The plot this time is drawn from the legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes, which are most familiar to audiences through the Theban plays of Sophocles as Aedipus at Colonia and Seven against Thebes by Aeschylus. 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 … movie fans. And for seasoned cinematic connoisseurs, Hercules Unchained (1959) will rekindle an era of film making at its best. This is Steve Reeves’ second and last film portrayal of Hercules 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. Steve was an American bouncing who emigrated Italy and created a true star-system based on pumped-up heroes. He paved the way for other actors to seek their fame and fortune in Italy playing bouncing adventurers. Other stars by the time on this type of movies are Mark Forest, Gordon Mitchell, Dan Vadis, Brad Harris and ‘Gordon Scott’ who made him more important competence. Nobody, nevertheless, topped Steve in popularity. Rating: Good, highly recommended for Peplum fans”

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