Thursday, February 19, 2009


Directed by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia 1960
Cast: Jayne Mansfield (Deianira), Mickey Hargitay (Hercules), Massimo Serato (Licos), Tina Gloriani (Hippolyta), Rossella Como (Elleia), Giulio Donnini (Iarchus, the head priest), Arturo Bragaglia (Iolas), Andrea Aureli, Andrea Scotti (c.s.c.), Moira Orfei (Nemeia),
With the participation of Rene Dary (General) and Sandrine
Olga Solbelli, Antonio Gradoli, Cesare Fantoni, Barbara Florian, Giovanna Galletti, Gianni Loti
The Internet Media Database adds:
Gil Vidal (Achilles - Akulos), Lidia Alfonsi (Oracle), Aldo Podinotti (Creature- Halcyone), Sergio Calo.
Alberto Manca presents
A Coproduction of
Grandi Schermi Italiani, SPA.
Contact Orgranization, P.I.P. Paris
Cinemascope Eastmancolor
Copyright MCMLXVI by Walter Manley Enterprises, inc.
From a story by Alberto Manca
Screenplay by Alessandro Continenza, Luciano Doria
Costumes by Dario Cecchi and Maria Baroni
Sets by Alberto Boccianti
Set Decorator Nato Frasca
Assistant Directors Nino Zanchin, John Hanau
Assistants Jean Josipovici, Giovanni Fago (c.s.c.)
Continuity Nelly Cavallo
Assistant to the editor Cleofe Conversi
Sound Technicians Renato Cauderi, Luigi Puri
(In the Italian print, Oscar Di Santo is credited instead of Renato Cauderi.)
Sound recorder Pietro Spadoni
Microphone Technician Mario Ligobbi
Camera Operator Claudio Ragona
Assistant operators Nello Renzi, Sergio Salvati
Operators 2nd camera Vittorio Bernini, Luigi Allegretti
(In the Italian print, Vincenzo Seratrice is added to the list of Operatori 2d macchina.)
Production Inspectors Gino Peccerini, Pietro Nofri
Production Ass’t Alberto Salvatori
Makeup Director Amato Garbini
Makeup Duilio Scarozza
Makeup Ass’t Angelo Grison
Hairstyling Gabriella Borzelli
Hairstyling Ass’t Rosetta Luciani
Fencing Master Enzo Musumeci Greco
Riding Master Luigi Padovani
Special Effects Augusto Vivani, Nino Battistelli
Animated Effects Tani-Theatralcine Co.
Carried out by Baroni co.
(In the Italian print, the credit is Baroni e C.)
Costumes from Casa D’Arte Florence
Weapons Tani-Theatralcine, co.
Wigmaker Rocchetti, co.
Footwear Pompei, co.
Jewels Lami & Rodo
Horses Padovanni-Spada
Draperies Sanchini
Landscaping Labonia
Musical Score by Carlo Innocenzi
Directed by Carlo Franci
Music publishers Nazionalmusic-milan
Editor Renato Cinquini (A.I.M.)
Director of Photography Enzo Serafin
Production Director Gianni Solitro (A.D.C.)
English Language version directed by Richard McNamara
Produced by Alberto Manca
The screenplay was produced in the Cinecitta Studios
Western Electric Sound System
Voiced by C.D.C.
Italian Distributor Interfilm
Prod. Reg. 2303

If producer Alberto Manca didn’t have Jayne Mansfield as his star, would he have made this movie? It seems doubtful because there was no element in this flick that wasn’t reused from other flicks. Only the notoriety of Hollywood star Jayne Mansfield and her husband Mickey Hargitay could justify the expenditure of resources to make this. And while the flick looks fairly well produced, it was not a project to best showcase the talents of its stars.
Unlike the natural reserve which was part of Steve Reeves’ charisma, Mickey Hargitay came across as an overgrown boy, filled with enthusiasm and good natured energy. While there was no reason that Hercules couldn’t be portrayed by such a personality, Hargitay was called upon to react in this production in such a way as to appear silly.
Jayne Mansfield didn't come off any better in a dual role. As the virtuous Queen Deianira, Mansfield was given dark brown hair, seemingly in an attempt to make her look serious and regal. Unfortunately, she ended up looking pouty and tempermental. When the evil Queen Hippolyta took on Deianira's visage to trick our hero, Mansfield was given an ill-fitting wig that made her look like a imatation of Sylvia Lopez in HERCULES UNCHAINED. This might not have been such a bad idea if the costume department had provided her with clothes that didn't make her look puffy. Reportedly, Mansfield was unexpectedly pregnant (with future actress Mariska Hargitay) when production began on this, but certainly a competent costumer could have done something to make her look more attractive. (Speaking of costumes, what was the idea behind those prissy looking things the male servents around Deianira wore?)
Hercules fans knew that Deianira was Hercules' wife in the original Greek legend, so confusion occured when director Pietro Francisci decided to make Iole the heroine of his two movies starring Steve Reeves. In the legend, Iole was a woman that Hercules took up with on an adventure, inspiring Deianira to accidentally poison Hercules in a bid to reclaim his affections. In director Vittorio Cottafavi's two Hercules movies, Deianira is Hercules' wife and the heroine, and, luckily, Iole didn't appear. The writers of THE LOVES OF HERCULES decided to give Hercules a new wife inorder that her murder might kickstart their plot. Returning from his labors, Hercules found his wife dead and immediately set off to get revenge on the General he knew committed the deed. This brought him to the Kingdom ruled by Queen Deianira, who was this flick's heroine. The General was already dead at the hand of Licos, the film's villain, who plotted to have Hercules kill Deianira by throwing axes at her during a test to prove that she was not part of the murder plot. Naturally, Hercules didn't kill the innocent queen, she fell in love with him, and Licos had to hatch another plot. Lucky for him, the plot to blame the murder of Akulos on Philoctote resulted in Hercules entering the cave of the Hydra.

The destruction of the nine-headed Hydra was one of the labors of Hercules, but the popularity of Monster Animator Ray Harryhausen's JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS linked the creature, in many people's minds, with the quest for the Golden Fleece. In the original legend, the Fleece was guarded by a dragon, which Francisci ended up portraying with a cheap-looking dinosaur in his first Hercules film. In THE LOVES OF HERCULES, the Hydra was portrayed by a full scale mechanism that in design looked alot like the three-headed dragon in the Soviet film ILYA MUROMETS, aka THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON. While the size and look of the three-headed Hydra in THE LOVES OF HERCULES was impressive, the Italian filmmakers didn't copy the Soviet filmmakers' decision to use judicious editing to keep the monster looking as if it was quite animated. The Italian filmmakers seemed to want the audience to get a good look at their terrific construction, and so they showed it for quite a while in a long shot, with the energentic Hargitay running back and forth pretending to fight it. By lingering on wide shots of the beast, the filmmakers exposed how limited the movements of the mechanism were, and how silly Hargitay looked in pretending to fight it.

Wounded in the battle with the Hydra, Hercules was found by Amazonian guards who took him to the Palace of Queen Hippolyta. Here the makers of THE LOVES OF HERCULES combine the Amazon sequence from the first Francisci Hercules movie with the Omphale plot from Francisci's second. In the original legend, Hippolyta was indeed the Queen of the Amazons and appeared in the labor inwhich Hercules had to get her girdle for the daughter of Eurystheus. Queen Omphale figured into the Hercules legend as a punishment for his murder of Iphitus in a fit of madness. Ordered to be Omphale's slave for three years, Hercules lived as if he were a hand-maiden, often wearing women's clothing while the queen wore his lion skin. At the end of his sentence, he was freed to marry Deianira. In the Francisci film, Omphale became a "black widow", who had her male lovers turn into statues after she tired of them. In THE LOVES OF HERCULES, Hippolyta's lovers became trees that writhe in agony and bleed red blood. In the Francisci film, Hercules fell into Omphale's clutches when the "waters of forgetfulness" made him forget everything. In THE LOVES OF HERCULES, Hippolyta used magic to look like Deianira so that Hercules decided not to leave after his wounds healed. Rather than have an old friend rescue our hero, as in the Francisci film, the makers of THE LOVES OF HERCULES had an Amazonian guard fall in love with our hero and expose the truth to him. Playing the guard was Moira Orfei, and this became one of the few heroic roles the dark haired beauty ever played.
Recovered from his daliance with another woman, Hercules heads back to save Deianira from the villain's plots, but not before Licos drags our heroine into a cave. Unluckily for Licos, the cave belongs to Halcyone, a Neanderthal-like creature that looks alot like the creatures Jason and Hercules battled on the beach in the first Francisci Hercules movie. And so Hercules battled two monsters in THE LOVES OF HERCULES, both by accident.

Even though Massimo Serato brought his usual charisma to the role of the elegant villain Licos, his effort to make the role memorable was completely undone by the flatfooted plotting. He had Hercules' wife murdered inorder to court Hercules' revenge, but then murdered the murderer so that Hercules instead would blame the Queen. When Hercules failed to kill the Queen by performing the Trial of Themis correctly, Licos then murdered the Queen's fiancee with Hercules' dagger to thwart the romance budding between the hero and the heroine. When
Hercules showed up to protest, Licos sent Hercules after Philoctotes, who might testify to his innocence. Lucky for the villain, Philoctotes tried to hide in the Hydra's cave - which led to Hercules being distracted by an adventure with the Amazons. This whole turn-of-events was an accident and not the villain's plan - so the villain's seeming triumph was completely unearned. Perhaps to balance out his one lucky break, Licos found that hiding in a second cave would be unlucky as another monster was there as well.

In the version on Trimark DVD, this convoluted plotting was further obscured because the scene inwhich Licos tells Philoctotes to hide "beyond the gates of the Underworld" was missing. So why Philoctotes was on the run and how Licos knew where he went was unknown to viewers who had only seen this version. Luckily, a complete version of the film is now available on DVD in Italy. This version sports a gorgeous transfer of the film, but does not have either an English language track or subtitles. An English speaking fan, though, has created a bootleg of the Italian DVD with English subtitles - which is the best way to enjoy this flick. There are two different English language versions of this movie, the European one has Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield's real voices while the U.S. one does not, and both are cringe-inducing. Seeing this movie with a beautiful picture and English subtitles allows the viewer to get past the lousy dialogue, poor plotting and unconvincing acting to relish whatever virtues it does have.

For producer Alberto Manca, this whole project must have been a big disappointment. While he was reusing elements from earlier films, he did it fairly quickly - ripping off movies made in 1958 and 1959 in 1960. He must have thought that hiring Jayne Mansfield would ensure him a big sale to an American distributor, but such was not the case. It was not until 1967 that an American company would pay to distribute THE LOVES OF HERCULES, and the company that did it was the smallish Walter Manley Enterprises. By the time American audiences had a chance to see this film, there weren't many who wanted to. It got a fair amount of play on TV, often under the new title of HERCULES AGAINST THE HYDRA, which surely was not what Manca had in mind.


  1. Great! I hope you use this blog to post articles and reviews as if it were the on-line version of "Spaghetti Cinema".

  2. Excellent review, Bill! I echo Tom's comment, as well.

  3. thank you very much
    if you can give subtitle for the hercules and maciste movies in any language
    best wishes