When Times Were Simpler and Steve Reeves Was Hercules!
bix lang | Davenport, Iowa USA | 09/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, yes! Those were the days! Disregard the dubbed-in dialogue and hokey plot lines. The orginal 1957 "Hercules" is a treasure of fantasy and fun. To those Americans who possess a sense of the past (what used to be known fondly as "nostalgia" prior to the MTV generation and its contemptuous stance toward anything that occurred prior to the maturation of Jennifer Lopez's big, fat posterior), Johnny Weismuller was Tarzen. Bela Lugosi was Dracula. Clayton Moore was the Lone Ranger. And Steve Reeves was Hercules. Long before Arnold there was Steve Reeves, the prototype body builder who in the 1940s and 50s surpassed what Charles Atlas initiated a generation earlier. A scrawny, unathletic kid who was teased unmercifully, Reeves decided to do something about his predicament. He made body building and fitness a way of life. Between 1945 and 1950, Reeves won every body building competition and award in the universe, and he did so without the use of steroids or any other drugs. It didn't take long for Hollywood to come calling. After being considered and then turned down for the role of Samson (for being "too muscular") in the 1949 MGM production of "Samson and Delilah" opposite Heddy Lamarr, Reeves spent a few years playing mostly forgetable parts in a number of films before achieving celluloid stardom in his adopted home, Italy. In 1957 Reeves portrayed the legendary Greek hero Hercules in the film of the same name, and repeated the role in its sequel, "Hercules Unchained," two years later. Reeves was extraordinarily handsome with black wavy hair and piercing blue eyes. With his beard and spectacular physique, Reeves looked exactly like the image of the Greek demigod as it had been depicted for thousands of years. So ingrained became his image in the minds of movie fans, that the names "Steve Reeves" and "Hercules" became synonomous. For a time in the late 1950s and early 1960s he was the highest-paid movie star in the world. To kids growing up in an innocent age of malt shops, high school dances, science-fiction comics, and "Father Knows Best," Reeves was the epitome of wholesome manliness. He became the idol and inspiration for a whole new generation of weightlifters and body builders, including Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbo, Reg Park, and old Arnold himself. He enchanted young and old alike as Hercules and as a number of other legendary Greco-Roman characters. In the late 1960s while still fit as a fiddle, very popular, and only in his early 40s, Reeves was asked by Sergio Leonne to star in a series of Spaghetti Westerns. But Reeves decided to leave the acting business. His place was taken by Clint Eastwood, and the rest is history (there's that anachronistic word again). Reeves continued living in Italy where he could be spotted daily "power-walking" (rapidly walking while carrying light weights in his arms) around all the famous sites in Rome. By the 1990s he and his wife returned to America where they raised horses and lived quietly on a beautiful ranch in Southern California. Reeves still looked great into his seventies and remained a steadfast advocate of drug-free athletics. Which is why it was so shocking to hear of his sudden death from cancer in 2000. Supposedly, Reeves visited his physician and was diagnosed with an accutely malignant form of cancer. In two weeks, he was dead. Upon hearing the news, I couldn't accept the fact of his passing. "Steve Reeves dead? Can't be." He always seemed so invincible. How time marches on. But the image of Reeves as the prototype celluloid demigod will endure. In the hearts and memories of many a young boy in the 1950s and 60s, there was no more popular person in the world than Steve Reeves. In many ways, Reeves may well have been the last great role model of an America that used to be. Malt shops are gone. Early sci-fi classic films with thoughtful plots like Howard Hawks' "The Thing From Another World" and Robert Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still" are now considered archaic by a generation whose attention span is measureable in nanoseconds. High school dances long ago devolved into loud, coarse, uncivil environments known as "clubs." There are no TV shows even remotely resembling the quaint idealism of "Father Knows Best." Yet certain images from yesteryear remain transfixed eternally in the minds of those still thoughtful enough to remember. Steve Reeves will always be the one and only "Hercules." So long, pal."
Hercules Chained to TV Format.
Graham Chalmers | Signal Hill, CA USA | 06/10/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a review of the DVD by Gemstone Entertainment - ISBN 0-7694-1100-2, UPC 84296-40174. Judging by the price, the one listed here on Amazon.com is likely to be similar.I would rate the movie itself as one of my all time favorite fantasy adventures, although many would view it as "campy" I view Steve Reeves as the best Hercules ever.I was rather disappointed that the DVD was a formatted-for-TV version of the movie, apparently made from a rather faded print of the film. The sound was generally out of sink with the actors lips. (Stopping and restarting my SONY player did not fix the problem.)I'm glad I have some version of this movie in my library. Hopefully a restored, letterboxed version will be done someday."
Long Awaited & Worth It
Michael J. Gratis, Sr. | Buzzards Bay, MA United States | 01/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Finally, Steve Reeves on DVD! The version sent to me was by Gemstone Entertainment; but appears to be the same version as United American Video. A few years back I was on Steve's web site and commented that I was disappointed that there were none of his films on DVD, and the reply that I got back was, "Only on VHS now; but just wait a bit longer...." I remember the first time I saw this movie as a kid, I was totally hooked on Steve Reeves and his name was forever connected with Hercules, which is kind of funny considering that he only made two Hercules movies. Though watching Italian movies can take a little getting used to, mainly due to the editing practices, in addition to dubbing the sound in after the movie had been completed, this movie holds the test of time very well, considering that it's almost 45 years old. My only real complaints are that it's not presented in a natural widescreen format and that the copy of the print was not in pristene condition; but don't let the TV format, soft focus and colors in some spots, and a few scratches and specks during the movie deter you from getting this classic. Some day I'm hoping to see a higher grade edition, in widescreen, with the film digitally restored and maybe a few extras; but until then, this will more than suffice."
The Great Steve Reeves as Hercules
Chuck Kimbriel | USA | 07/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember seeing this movie as a child and interestingly enough, now that it is on dvd, my son has bought this for his family.There are no great special effects. And don't look for any great acting, but Hercules is a fun movie and Reeves is the perfect Hercules with a sculpted physique, handsome and charismatic. I hope more Reeves movies become available on dvd. He was the original action hero."
Nostalgic films, poor transfer
R. Gorey | New York | 12/18/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Wish the Steve Reeves Hercules films were just a little more robust than they are: Reeves is magnificent to look at, and the women are beautiful. But somehow, these Hercules films don't create the same feeling in people that they get from Harryhausen's "Jason and the Argonauts", and the more elaborate spectacles like "Ben Hur". Fans of Reeves, and the genre, may object most to the pan-and-scan versions of these movies presented here. Bad prints, too, and this is a shame, because the color photography and widescreen were a huge part of the appeal of these amiably modest spectacles. If you've been waiting for "Hercules" to come out on a restored DVD, this isn't it, sadly. Reeves and his fans deserved better."