Hercules and the Black Pirate (1964)

a.k.a. - Sansone contro il corsaro nero (ITA)

Alan Steel and Rosalba Neri star in an age of sail euro-adventure film. Retromedia US R0 DVD.

The Film

The soldiers of a Spanish colony celebrate the defeat of the notorious Black Pirate's fleet and hail Hercules (Alan Steel) as their champion. The Governor's daughter Rosita (Rosalba Neri) confesses her love for the strong man, but he is not of noble birth and their love cannot be approved. Meanwhile, Rodrigo Sanchez, the assistant to the Governor is in league with the surviving Black Pirate and plots to work with him to capture the colony's gold...

Writers Arpad DeRiso and Piero Pierotti were regular Peplum contributors and the script for Hercules and the Black Pirates is nothing more than a Peplum in disguise with all of the usual genre clichés. The presence of Hercules (or Samson in the original Italian) in the 16th Century is never explained and it does often become unintentionally humourous, almost as much as the Black Pirate's ludicrous and almost self-parodic plan to kill Hercules slowly by flooding him in the bowels of the ship (leading not unpredictably to the ship starting to sink and Hercules having plenty of time to effect an escape).

Less humourous are the film's comic relief characters, in this case a husband cuckolded by his wife, which quickly become very tiresome but are mercifully brief. Similarly grating are the script's numerous critiques of the class system of the era - an interesting point but never really developed, instead just mentioned endlessly. Fortunately the pacing is generally strong and although unoriginal the storyline works in enough plot and action scenes to keep it enjoyable.

Director Luigi Capuano was no stranger to the age of sail, having worked on several pirate films and the film is handled in an adequate if rather uninspired way. The opening battle scenes are culled (quite neatly) from another picture and sadly this film is never able to match that scale, but it never tries to overstretch itself and we get a number of well helmed small scale action scenes with some very impressive stunt work. The setting is sometimes rather unclear, with the Carribean looking coasts contrasting against very European forests, but this is nothing that genre fans are not used to.

The titual role is played by musclebound Alan Steel, actually Sergio Ciani, one of the few Italians to star in the Peplum boom. He certainly looks good in the action roles and although hardly likely to win any awards for acting he is much less wooden than many of the imported genre stars. The gorgeous Rosalba Neri gives a typically fine performance as Rosita while regular Spaghetti Western villain Piero Lulli is as good as ever as Rodrigo Sanchez.

The storyline is hardly original, but well written with plenty of chances for action and a storyline that although simple, keeps the film moving. Alan Steel gets to show off his prowess and Rosalba Neri and Piero Lulli are always a pleasure to watch. Euro-adventure fans will find plenty to enjoy here.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Alan Steel (Sergio Ciani) - an Italian Peplum star who also starred in Maciste e la regina di Samar (1964)
Rosalba Neri - beautiful Italian actress who also appeared in Jess Franco's Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969)
Directed by anyone interesting? Luigi Capuano - a little known director who worked on several age of sail adventures including Il leone di San Marco (1963) as well as a number of Pepla, including La vendetta di Ursus (1961)
Any gore or violence ? None
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? A must see for Alan Steel fans and of interest to all euro-adventure fans.

Visuals Cropped ratio - 1.33:1 fullscreen (OAR is believed to be 2.35:1). Colour
As far as fullscreen, old television prints go, this is one of the better ones. Lacking detail and noticably cropped it does at least have some active pan and scanning to keep the action onscreen and the colours are quite good (although they fluctuate on occasion). Print damage is regular but not too damaging and the film is always watchable.
Audio English mono - sounds okay with only a little crackling and very occasional drop-outs.
Subtitles None
Extras None
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Availability Only available as part of a double-film release with the Reg Park Peplum Hercules the Avenger (1965).
Other regions? None known.
Cuts? Cut status unknown. The print used is an AIP English language print and therefore might well have been edited and even re-scored compared to the original Italian print.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 16th March 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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