The missing scenes from HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

HERCULES UNCHAINED is the popular sequel to the worldwide smash hit  HERCULES (1958). It’s as good as the first movie, with some claiming it’s superior to the first one. With the success came a greater scrutiny towards the follow up. And one of the results of this added scrutiny is something HERCULES didn’t really experience: scenes cut from the original vision of Pietro Francisci’s work. HERCULES UNCHAINED was trimmed here and there, and depending on which version you watch, some scenes were removed or shorten. Here are the scenes which usually got the axe.


This cheesecake scene is not in the US version of HERCULES UNCHAINED. It appears when Hercules, Iole and Ulysses are traveling on the wagon and Ulysses happens to see these women just hanging out on the beach. It’s an innocuous moment and the women are all gorgeous but it’s clearly a case of gratuitous cheesecake that doesn’t really add much to the story. I sorta understand why it was removed but then again the scene is so harmless that why not just leave it in? Annie Gorassini is part of this harem.


If you notice, a lot of the scenes cut are scenes with women. In this important scene, Iole learns of Hercules childhood, including the moment he fought with two snakes, as pictured in a wall mural. This scene should have been left uncut. It’s important to the Hercules mythology. In the cut version, we don’t see this and the movie goes straight of Iole and Hercules kissing.


Another scene with Iole. Iole waits impatiently for any word of Hercules. She passes her time weaving while new acquaintances ask her personal questions which upsets her. This scene is either entirely cut or shorten. It’s important in that we see the passage of time while Hercules is a captive of Omphale. Should never have been cut.


In this brief scene, we see Ulysses’ girlfriend, played by Marisa Valenti, listening to a seashell. It’s a nice scene and it establishes Ulysses in a relationship. The scene is so short that it shouldn’t have been cut.


The pyre at the end of the movie for Eteocles (Sergio Fantoni) and Polinices (Mimmo Palmara). The scene is cut from the US, Spanish, French prints I have. The already short scene was shortened in other releases, including the German print. The Italian and the Japanese Blu-ray are uncut.

The influence of HERCULES and Steve Reeves in one trade ad!

This ad, published in MOTION PICTURE DAILY, shows the two big upcoming movies from Paramount in the *fall* of 1959: LI’L ABNER and the re-release of SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949)

The re-release of SAMSON AND DELILAH was set after the success of HERCULES, which was made in 1958 but released in August of 1959 in America. Remarkably enough, Steve Reeves auditioned for the role of Samson but his physique was considered too much by DeMille who eventually cast Victor Mature. Just to show you how influential the success of HERCULES was, just look at the original poster of SAMSON AND DELILAH when it was released in 1949 and compare it to when it was re-released in the fall of 1959.

The new poster amplified the muscular action hero and replicated the look of Steve Reeves as Hercules even though Victor Mature wasn’t even close to having the body of Reeves. Even the text “THE MIGHTIEST MORTAL WHO EVER LIVED!” is a direct line taken from HERCULES’ trailer. And notice how SAMSON is huge and ‘…AND DELILAH’ is much smaller. DeMille and Paramount finally took notice of Reeves.

Second, Steve Reeves tried to audition for the role of Li’l Abner.

He didn’t get the role which wasn’t a big loss considering how bizarre the movie was. It might have been a big loss for Paramount though. Had Steve starred in LI’L ABNER and the film released right after HERCULES, who knows how successful it might have been. I’m certain someone back then at Paramount mused about this. Even so, the apparent influence of Reeves and the success of HERCULES was obvious in the trade publication ad above.

Steve Reeves candid photos during the making of GIANT OF MARATHON

Here’s a rare glimpse of an Italian magazine, Epoca, with a page showing Steve Reeves and Mylene Demongeot, still in costume for THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959), walking about a street in modern day Rome, and shopping in a men’s clothing store. I’ve never seen these photos before. Really amazing. I’m going to try to get that issue.

Steve Reeves as Li’l Abner

One of the most interesting aspect of Steve Reeves’ career is not necessarily the roles he got but the long string of roles he was set to play but missed out. One of them was Li’l Abner.

The movie role went to Peter Palmer. The movie musical itself is not that great (in fact, it’s pretty odd…), and it’s sorta forgotten today. So, Steve didn’t really missed out. Needless to say, he would have been perfect in the role.


Peter Palmer played Li’L Abner, a role he played on Broadway.

This is just one of many roles Steve could have gotten but didn’t, including playing Samson in Cecil B. DeMille’s SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949).

PEPLUM titles advertised in old US newspaper

It’s always cool to see old newspapers with ads for PEPLUM movies. This one is a great example.

Now for those who aren’t aware of this in the past movies were advertised heavily in newspapers, mainly in the ‘Entertainment’ section. It was one of  the best ways to reach a vast audience…back then. Not today. But this selection of ads illustrates the reality of PEPLUM movies released in the US. We see  THE AVENGER (1962) staring Steve Reeves. I never cared for that title. It’s also known as WAR OF THE TROJANS or THE LAST GLORY OF TROY. It was the sequel to THE TROJAN HORSE (1961). As we can see it opened in 4 cinemas (‘starts today’) along with THE SECRET MARK OF D’ARTAGNAN (1962) starring George Nader. So, basically a double feature. Or maybe the two movies shared the same cinemas but patrons had to pay specifically for one movie only. Regardless, it shows how PEPLUM Swashbucklers were paired with ‘mythological’ titles like THE AVENGER. Some people wonder I cover these ‘swashbuckler’ movies or wonder why they’re even considered PEPLUM movies. Well, here’s your proof why.

Side note: There’s also an ad for MUSCLE BEACH PARTY starring future PEPLUM star Peter Lupus (aka Rock Stevens).

HERCULES released by Archway Film Distributors (Brit)

When HERCULES, the Steve Reeves classic, was released in 1958 around the world, the name Joseph E. Levine wasn’t featured on any posters, lobby cards or even during the opening credits. Levine eventually purchased the rights for the movie for distribution in North America and he made a fortune since it became a success in the US. But the movie was also a hit around the world sans Levine’s help.

HERCULES was distributed in Britain (presumably the UK) by Archway Film Distributors. Below are some of the advertising and lobby cards of this release.

This looks like the cover of a press book, and if not then it’s the ad shown in print (newspapers, magazines, etc). It’s really cool since:

1 – Joseph E Levine’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on it.
2 – It states that the movie is making ‘record business’ on its premiere run
3 – It has, in very small print, the name of the original Italian film company

The photos for the lobby cards set are mostly different than the US one. Unfortunately, there are no dates on them.

Stuff from the UK is interesting in that titles released directly to TV in the US were actually released in theatres in the UK. And most often than not their titles differed from the (goofy) ones for the US. In this case though, the title for the US and UK distributions were the same.

New DVD set is same as old DVD set…

This DVD collection, THE HERCULES COLLECTION, from SHOUT! FACTORY, looks like a good set but then upon closer look, the set is actually just the same as an old and rare DVD set, which I have, repackaged and with Steve Reeves on the cover.

There are 6 titles in the set:

The Loves Of Hercules (aka Hercules Vs. The Hydra) (1960)

The Trojan Horse (1961)

Medusa Against The Son Of Hercules (1962)

Conquest Of Mycene (aka Hercules vs. The Molloch) (1963)

The Triumph Of Hercules (1964)

Hercules Against The Sons Of The Sun (1964)

If you look at the old set (below), THE ADVENTURES OF HERCULES, they are almost the same titles:

THE LION OF THEBES is missing from the new collection.

In the old set released by Trimark, there were 4 different DVD boxes for the 7 titles. The new set, with Steve on the cover, only has two disks for the 6 titles. The packaging of the old set , though nothing stunning, was more fun and elaborate the new one.

All movies are in 4:3 aspect ratio. No widescreen. So, no upgrade in the new set.

It’s very deceptive but then most people don’t have the old set. But the thing is, by putting Steve on the cover they made it look like a collection of Steve Reeves’ Hercules movies but it’s not. There is one movie in the set with Steve, THE TROJAN HORSE, but it’s NOT a Hercules movie. Some people have bought it thinking HERCULES (1958) and HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959) were included. So beware.

SHOUT! FACTORY have also falsely claimed many scenes from HERCULES (1958) on Youtube.

It would be better just to buy to old set, since it has THE LION OF THEBES in it. Of course, the old set might be more expensive but I just don’t see the point of buying the new set, unless it’s super cheap.

Also, don’t confuse this set with another HERCULES DVD set, called HERCULES COLLECTION:

My Christmas present…THIEF OF BAGHDAD Blu-ray

The German Blu-ray of THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) starring Steve Reeves arrived this week, just in time for Christmas. It’s such a nice edition that I’m very happy. Is it perfect? Not really but it’s simply the best edition available anywhere. I’ll have more on this at the PEPLUM TV blog.

Japanese ads and article for HERCULES (1958) and HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

What’s with Japanese poster art and design which makes things so cool and dramatic? Anyway, these vintage ads and article were taken from old magazines.

HERCULES (1958)

HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959). Great montage which includes stuff from the first film.

I can’t read Japanese so don’t ask me what it’s saying. Haha!