The Loves of Hercules. 1960. Italy. Directed by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia. With Jayne Mansfield, Mickey Hargitay. 98 min.
“If there was a movie star who symbolized the aesthetic desires of Club 57 members, it would have been the fame-crazed 1950s ‘sexbomb’ Jayne Mansfield. One of the great film nights at the club was June 26, 1980, featuring a double bill of Jayne and Mamie Van Doren in Las Vegas Hillbillys (the title was better than the movie, even though Jayne and Mamie did have musical numbers, separately) and the Italian sword-and-sandal nonsense of The Loves of Hercules. Released in 1960, Loves costarred Jayne’s real-life love, bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, as the muscle-bulging Roman demigod of the title. In flaming Cinemascope Jayne plays two roles (neither a blonde, both dubbed), men turn into trees, and brawny Hercules battles the multi-headed Hydra and a Cyclops. Wishing they had been part of the Via Veneto jet set of the late 1950s, the deliciously silly movie was just the kind of thing Club 57-ites needed to both remember and forget. From Jean-Pierre and Francoise Jackson’s book Jayne Mansfield: ‘The scenes of declaration of love between [Jayne] and Mickey, against a background of waterfalls, are hopelessly grotesque. [The movie is] a disastrous failure, but which can become hilarious after the third bourbon.’” (film notes by John Epperson).