Say what you will about Arnold– he’s always spoken his mind, whether people can handle it or not. Remember the 1977 interview with Oui magazine? I can’t print it here, man. Crazy, crazy stuff. The guy’s an animal. Schwarzenegger learned early on that if you’re beautiful, charismatic and powerful– you can say or do just about anything, with a big cheesy smile on your face. All that aside, he’s an icon who put bodybuilding on mainstream America’s map. Yes, there were definitely others before him– but Arnold took it beyond just sport & physical fitness. He made it sexy and entertaining like no one else.
Pumping Iron is an absolute pop culture classic (video after the jump). You get to witness the world of bodybuilding arguably at it’s peak– with all the twisted and intense– competitiveness, silliness and drama that sums up our human nature. At times these brutes are fierce, and other times they’re like primping girls at a beauty pageant vainly craving recognition– only much bigger. And don’t forget, this is a sport that comes with a lot of pain & sacrifice. You have to credit them for the years of dedication and intense training– whether it’s your thing or not.
Arnold is such a friggin’ peacock in this film– it’s pure hedonist pleasure to watch. He was the man, and no one questioned it. There were guys with better physiques, more muscular, had better arms, chest, whatever– but Schwarzenegger was the total package, and a charismatic and commanding on at that. This movie put him on the map, and definitely launched his celebrity success and film career.
There are other legends featured as well who’ve had varying levels of stardom. There’s poor little Franco Columbo who wanted out from under Arnold’s shadow so badly. They were friends, but even still– the tension between them was enough to make you queasy. I have fond memories of Franco in the old “strong man” comptetitions. As a kid, there’s nothing better than watching humungous guys with funny names tow buses and and carry small cars across the finish line with veins the size of rope bulging from every part of their bodies. Big Lou Ferrigno, ofIncredible Hulk fame, felt pretty green on the big-time circuit– his Italian Brooklynite Dad was such a strong influence on his kid, and towed him around like the prize bull with a ring through its nose. I’ve always liked Lou, it’s hard not to.
1977– Arnold Schwarzenegger training for a culturisme championship. A five-time Mr Universe and a seven-time Mr Olympia winner.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Jones –1977.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hugh Heffner, and Wilt Chamberlain –the ultimate trifecta.