Friday, September 07, 2012

Sword and Sandal Theater: Hercules, Samson, and Ulysses

 I mentioned a while back that I was waiting on the arrival of a DVD of a Sword and Sandal movie, the title of which was so epic, that I was keeping it under wraps until it showed up. That title is, of course, HERCULES, SAMSON, AND ULYSSES! That's right. Two characters from Greek myth teamed up with the biblical strongman in a pitched battle against the Philistines. All this and Delilah too.
   When my buddy Cliff pointed out to me that Warner Brothers was about to release a remastered widescreen version of this movie I knew I would have to have it. To me it sounded like a Jack Kirby issue of Thor with Hercules and Samson battling it out on the big screen.
   I just watched the movie and it was pretty much what I expected. Hercules, his pal Ulysses, and a crew of Greek sailors set out to kill a sea monster that has been terrorizing the waters off of Ithaca. They succeed in killing the monster (which appeared to be a giant walrus) but a severe storm drives their ship off course and they end up shipwrecked near Judea. (I know, I know, Just go with it.)
   Hercules and his pals end up traveling to the major city of Gaza to see if they can get a ship back to Greece, but the evil king of the Philistines thinks that Hercules might actually be the notorious rebel Samson, since he was seen strangling a lion with his bare hands. The king's slinky girl friend Delilah doesn't agree and she suggests that the king send Hercules out to capture the real Samson. The reluctant Hercules agrees because the king holds his friends prisoner.
   Herc catches up with Samson in a ruined city and here we go into comic book territory as Samson and Hercules beat the daylights out of one another while simultaneously destroying the ruins with their titanic combat. And just like in a comic, they soon realize that neither of them is a bad guy and they agree to join forces against the common enemy. There's a huge battle at the end and the movie even manages to leave things so that they don't totally disagree with the biblical account of Samson and Delilah.
   This is a very colorful and fun film with good production values. The costumes are better than average and they actually have a couple of real ships instead of models. Kirk Morris plays Hercules in this one with red hair and beard, and Richard Lloyd is Samson. Morris looks good in the role and the big fight scene between the two is well handled.
   I don't think I ever saw this as a kid, though I might have, but what's so fun about all these new versions of these old films is how bright they are. I was usually watching umpteenth generation prints of these movies and they tended to look washed out. Seeing them as they were originally presented makes a world of difference.
   Anyway, I was quite taken with Hercules, Samson, and Ulysses. (Though in truth, Ulysses has very little to do in the movie.) I'll give this three out of five Sandals.

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