Saturday, December 4, 2010

Do you like gladiator movies?

300?  No.  This is the mighty Hercules!
If you're a baby-boomer and remember Hercules...you'll know that Steve Reeves was Hercules.  Though Steve made lots of gladiator 'Sword & Sandal' movies, he only played the character of Hercules twice.  HERCULES (1957) and HERCULES UNCHAINED (1960 U.S. release)  He was 'the man' back in those days.

In 1954 he had a small role in his first major motion picture, the musical in ATHENA (with Jane Powell).  The same year Reeves had a small role as a cop in Ed Wood's JAIL BAIT.  These were the only two movies that Steve's Reeves real voice were ever used.  Once in Italy - someone else's burly voice was dubbed in.

Reeves was born in the United States but found his stardom in Italy doing some memorable (and many forgettable) low budget movies.  From 1959 to 1964, he was Mr. Gladiator to us.  I was too young to see them at the movies, but remember seeing them on television.  Anyone remember Tom York's Dialing for Dollars Show?  Do you know the count and the amount?

So here's some facts I found that you might not have known about Steve Reeves.  After the Sword & Sandal movie craze faded - the Italian Westerns came into being.  It was a real shot in the arm for Italy's flailing movie industry.  Steve didn't see it coming.  He just thought it was silly for Italians to go West - "that Italians can't make Westerns".  

Al conrario!
So when Sergio Leone came calling, Reeves turned down the leading role that eventually went to Clint Eastwood in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964).  Steve Reeves also said that he said no to the role that later went to Sean Connery in DR. NO (1962).

Ouch!
Reeves' final film that he co-wrote was A LONG RIDE FROM HELL, an Italian Western that was an attempted to mimic one of Sergio Leone epics.  Too late....he missed the stagecoach.  I've never seen it and would like to - just for the heck of it.

Nevertheless, Steve Reeves is fondly remembered as the mighty Hercules.
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