6 May 2016 | michael-3204
A low point for the genre
"The Loves of Hercules" was one of two peplum films featuring Hercules (the other being "Goliath and the Dragon") released in 1960, following the success of "Hercules" and its sequel both starring Steve Reeves. This marks American sex-symbol/actress Jayne Mansfield's only peplum entry, because, I guess, what to do when you have a hunky slab of bodybuilder beef lying around the house but cast him as the legendary strongman and play his main squeeze? It's a good idea on paper.
Mansfield and Hungarian bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay married in 1956 and this was the second film they made together. Both have been better elsewhere, but let's face it, their most enduring and worthwhile contribution to the performing arts was producing daughter Mariska. It certainly isn't this turkey, which sees Herc buffeted by a succession of women who do him wrong. Indeed, the theme here seems to be that musclemen should stick to slaying monsters and performing heroic feats because women will just mess with you. Hargitay, despite his build, is not very convincing in the role -- he has a round, boyish face that in this context makes him look more like a lost and confused lad than a god among men. Mansfield's performance is too self-absorbed and anachronistic to be anything but distracting. She has a dual role as the good Queen Deianira and the evil Queen Hippolyta and neither Hercules nor viewers can tell them apart. (Hint: her hair color changes.) Oddly, the two real life partners have no on-screen chemistry here.
None of the rest of the cast are particularly interesting, the set pieces are unremarkable, as are the set design and costumes. The tree-monsters the Amazons transform men into are a little spooky, and the large cast of extras look like they are having fun. Despite being filmed at Cinecitta, this looks as cheap as it probably was -- especially the monsters Hercules battles, which includes the paperiest of paper mache Hydras and an emaciated looking gorilla suit. The only energetic fight sequence is when Hargitay dispatches Mansfield's blowhard fiancé by picking him up, spinning him around a bit and throwing him across the room. This is the only moment the film manages to sell the idea that you shouldn't tangle with Hercules. This is only for Hercules and/or Mansfield or Hargitay completists -- everyone else can skip it.