Hercules, Samson and Ulysses (1963)

ka Ercole sfida Sansone
Article 2309 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-22-2007
Posting Date: 12-8-2007
Directed by Pietro Francisci
Featuring Kirk Morris, Richard Lloyd, Liana Orfei

Hercules, Ulysses and other Greeks set out to do battle with a sea monster, but end up caught in a storm and find themselves stranded in Judea. There Hercules is mistaken for Samson, who is wanted by the Philistines. In order to save his friends from execution, he must track down and capture Samson by himself.

Among the many sword-and-sandal movies that came from Italy in the late fifties and early sixties, there are a few that stand out. If you see Pietro Francisci’s name as the director and writer, you’re probably seeing one of them. He made three movies featuring Hercules, and they are of a piece, with certain continuing characters (Ulysses,Iole, Aesculapius) and fairly coherent plots. There are plenty of campy laughs here, and quite a few of them are intentional; I love the moment where Hercules breaks up a fight aboard the raft by tossing two of the fighters off the raft into the water, and then approaches the third, who bows to the inevitable and throws himself in the water. It also takes the trouble to come up with logical reasons for the characters to meet; rather than just having Samson appear out of nowhere, this one takes the trouble of getting Hercules into Judea, where his encounter with Samson (and Delilah, for that matter) makes sense. Extra care was also taken with this one in adapting it for American audiences; MGM took some care to make sure that the dubbing was top notch, and that the music was excellent as well. The battle between Samson and Hercules in some old ruins is one of the greatest fight scenes in any sword-and-sandal movie; it’s both exciting and hilarious. Kirk Morris does a fine job as Hercules, as does Richard Lloyd as Samson. Oddly enough, one of the alternate titles is ERCOLE, SANSONE E MACISTE; there is really no Maciste character in it at all (and Ulysses is more a thinking man than a fighting man, so he can’t be Maciste). This is definitely one of the high points of the sword-and-sandal genre.



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