Friday, September 24, 2010

Hercules and the Princess of Troy

Film historians generally use the term "Sword and Sandal" to refer to a series of films made between 1957 and 1965, mostly in Italy.  I use the term somewhat more broadly on this blog.  If 1965 was the last year of the sword and sandal epics then Hercules and the Princess of Troy was one of the last made.
This was produced as the pilot to a TV show called Hercules.  The series would have dealt with Hercules (Gordon Scott) traveling the seas on a ship called the Olympia with his friend Diogenes (Paul Stewart) and his young apprentice, Ulysses (Mart Hulswit).  Gordon Scott was well-known in the sword and sandal genre but this would be his last such effort.  He made three films after this, all spaghetti westerns.
Hercules and his crew travel to Troy where Princess Diana is shortly to be crowned queen.  Troy is compelled by the gods to sacrifice many of its young women to a sea monster.  Hercules agrees to help destroy the monster and ensure that Diana is crowned safely.
Unfortunately for Diana, her treacherous uncle Petra, who is ruling as regent until she is of age, desires to keep the throne.  He arranges for Diana to be selected as the monster's next sacrifice and Diana must obey so that her people will have faith in her as a ruler.
Hercules plans to lure the sea monster to land and attack from sacred, invincible horses gifted to Troy by the goddess Minerva.
After an ill-fated attempt by Petra and his men to capture and kill Hercules, the hero is able to escape.  With the help of Ulysses, he lures the sea monster to land where he is able to defeat it.  Petra is killed by the monster and Diana is safe.  Hercules and his crew sail on towards Thebes.
Produced and directed by Albert Band, this is a fun film!  Where many of the Italian films of this genre are too long for the amount of story they had to tell, this is perfect at 50 minutes.   I would have loved to have seen it developed into the proposed television series.  Sadly, it was not to be but this pilot is available on DVD.  The transfer is not very clean and there are no bonus features but it's very watchable.

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