Movie Monday: Hercules, Samson, & Ulysses
Hercules, Samson, & Ulysses (Ercole sfida Sansone, dir. Pietro Francisci, 1963) with Kirk Morris as Hercules and Richard Lloyd as Samson
Hercules: I've never met such strength as yours. Why don't the two of us join forces?
Samson: I was thinking the same thing.
I saw this movie in a theater in 1965, a Saturday matinee as I recall, with only schoolboys and young enlisted men in attendance.
The Italian title literally translates as "Hercules Challenges Samson," alluding to the climactic confrontation excerpted above. It's still one of my favorite scenes in any movie ever, and it occurs early enough in the movie that the swelling in my pants subsided before the houselights came back on. The memory is vivid.
As a bible-believing Baptist at the time, I knew I should root for the Israelite, but my heart already belonged to the Greco-Roman. After this four- or five-minute battle, Hercules and Samson team up to defeat the evil Philistines at Gaza (even then the Gaza Strip was contended territory). The idea of fighting as male bonding goes back to The Epic of Gilgamesh, composed about a thousand years before a historical Samson might have lived. In earlier films, guy-time fights can be seen in the war and western movies of William A. Wellman and Howard Hawks.