Stay Hungry (1976)
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With both his parents killed in a plane crash Birmingham blue-blood Craig Blake, Jeff Bridges,has reluctantly taken over the family business but is just content to hang out at the Blake Mansion shooting the breeze and partying with the local rich and political connected exclusive country club folks.
The movie revolves around a health & body building spa, The Olympic Spa,in downtown Birmingham owned by the somewhat at first off-the-wall Thor Erickson, R.G Armstrong, who really cracks up at the end of the movie. It turns out that Craig is given the task to buy out the spa for this group of mob-connoted businessmen headed by Jabo, Joe Spineli. Jabo is so determined to get the spa, in order to demolish and build a high-rise office building over it, that he goes so far as hiring a number of local sh*t-kickers, who end up getting the sh*t beaten out of them by the spa workers, to terrorize and have the management give up it's lease on the place to him.
Mary Tate, Sally Field, the receptionist at the spa had been Big Joe Santo's girlfriend for some time but starts to get very friendly with Craig who shows up at the place to buy it out. Craig get's so hung up on the spa and those in it that he decides to become a vital part of it even going so far as paying for the damage inflicted on the spa by Jabo's ineffective and bumbling thugs.
Joe who you would think in having Craig steal his girl Mary Tate, who actually throws herself on him, would drive him to break Craig in two reacts very strangely to having his girlfriend taken away from him. As we soon see Joe is actually forcing a confused Mary Tate on Craig to have sex with him! Craig thinks that Joe is either a pimp or some kind of sex freak who likes to see his girl get it on with other men in order for him to get turned on! It's later that Craig begin to realize that Big Joe's somewhat cuckoo-bird actions has to do with his unorthodox training methods that he invented to get himself into tip top shape. Joe trains himself in refraining from all earthly pleasures like sex and, as he puts it, stays hungry for the upcoming Mr. Universe, or is it World, competition.
The movie starts to get really nuts when Thor is taken into the confidence of Jabo in order to get him to sell his place. The Jabo mobsters give Thor an unlimited amount of drugs, that he snorts, and two hookers for non-stop action in order to soften him up. As Thor is under the influence of drugs and hookers the big Mr. Universe, or is it World, competition takes place. It's there that Thor's "Main Man" Big Joe Santo easily blows away the competition with his muscle man act on the stage to the music of the movie "Exodus". Mary Tate, who just broke up with Craig, unexpectedly shows up at the spa and is attacked by the now wild crazy and totally drugged out Thor who's then confronted by Craig! This leads to one of the most exciting and incredible free for all slug-fasts ever put on film!
With all this insanity going on at the Olympic Spa it's rumored among the muscle man from one of them being on the scene of the Thor/Craig free for all that Thor had taken off with the cash! It's then that all the body builders take off together with the winner of the contest Joe Santo to stop Thor from taking off with the prize money and thus leaving them high and dry. The outraged, in feeling that they were stiffed by Thor, muscle men run with nothing but their skimpy and macroscopic body trunks on in the streets of Birmingham, stopping traffic, headed for the Olympic Spa in order to keep Thor from checking out of town. It's the local police who get to the spa first and take a whacked out on drugs and bloodied, from his dumbbell throwing fight with Craig, Thor into custody and the local hospital for emergency treatment.
The ending has Craig take control of the Olympic Spa and thus keep it out of the hands of the Jabo Mob who were going to put it out of business. Mary Tate Joe Santo and everyone else involved with muscle man building in the movie now know that they have a friend in the city of Birmingham, Craig Blake, who'll see to it that they have a place to work out and build up their muscles.
Worth watching for the oddity of seeing the future Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger acting, but not at all looking, as meek as a kitten where he doesn't as much as raise his voice, much less his fists, in all the violence that swirls around him! Schwarzenegger actually comes across acting like a peace-loving and non-violent Buddhist Monk in his trying to stop the violence.
Directed by Bob Rafelson (Black Widow, Blood and Wine, Five Easy Pieces) made an dramatic comedy with happy performances by Bridges, Field and Schwarzenegger make it worthwhile. The film's has good supporting cast like R.G. Armstrong, Robert Englund, Scatman Crothers, Joanna Cassidy and more. This is an extremely underrated comedy. This film has a eccentric mixture of comedy and drama. This film has many fine scenes. This film is based on a novel by Charles Gaines, which he co-wrote the screenplay with the director. If you are a fan of the filmmakers or the stars of this film. You will find this film certainly enjoyable. This is a quirky, funny and a breath of fresh air. Don't miss this 1970's classic. (****/*****).
Cast wise it does not get any better than this for a bunch of then relative unknowns!
The way in which all the characters slowly but surely reveal their flaws and weaknesses is quite brilliant. Stand-out scenes include Arnie's bodybuilder character playing the fiddle (yes, the fiddle!) with a bunch of hillbillies out in the woods, Jeff Bridges' drunken jig, and the sight of about a hundred pumped-up bodybuilders running almost naked through rush hour traffic, which for me is one of the classic and most unexpected comic moments in cinema.
I may think more of this film because I 'discovered' it almost by chance, but I will always see it as an underrated classic and I urge everyone to seek it out.
But Jeff Bridges and Sally Field still give it their all and act pretty well with a silly story.
It's also fun to see a bunch of people (Robert Englund, Arnold, Ed Begley etc) who went on to decent and/or great things.
Plus Sally Field looks pretty hot in the film...
All in all, it is weird but it manages to stay together until the end.
Most of its value is as a super-early Schwarzenegger film and a bit of a glimpse into 70s bodybuilding culture.
And yeah, Sally Field doesn't wear much...
The story centres on Jeff Bridges' character, Craig Blake, and his attempts to buy a gym in Alabama in order to redevelop the site. However he is drawn into the lives of the people he meets including gym receptionist, Mary Tate Farnsworth, played by Sally Field, and Joe Santo, played by Arnold Schwarzeneger, who is training for the Mr. Universe contest.
The story meanders all over the place with many sub plots and characters while everyone goes to town on their Southern accents - all except The Austrian Oak of course.
It's hard to place "Stay Hungry" in a genre; it's a comedy of sorts, but the humour is in the odd situations rather than in funny lines. To be honest, it needed editing; some scenes are interminable. For anyone watching it 40 years later, the appeal must surely be in seeing the stars before their careers really took off.
Arnie is arresting. This was his first speaking part; he looks big chested and powerful, but plays it low key; he's a sensitive guy, no "Hasta la vista baby" or "I'll be back" in this movie. His best scene is when he joins a group in the backwoods and indulges his passion for fiddle playing. Apparently he practiced the violin for months to look convincing.
Sally Field was 29 when she made this (a few years older than Jeff Bridges), but looks as though she would have needed proof of age to get into a nightclub - it actually makes her brief nude scene slightly disturbing. Even now she still looks way younger than her real age; check out 2015's "My Name is Doris" for confirmation.
These days Jeff Bridges looks his years, but like a bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild, he simply improves with age. He has some good scenes in "Stay Hungry", including one where he does a little Appalachian flatfooting.
With memories of Vietnam and Watergate still fresh, filmmakers seemed affected by the mood of disillusionment and mistrust of the 1970's. They came up with some off-the-wall movies, and the chaotic style of "Stay Hungry" fits perfectly into the era.
Scatman Crothers has a small part as the faithful family retainer. Fannie Flagg and Joanna Cassidy are gentry acquaintances of Bridge's character. "
But up to that point, I was a pure movie fan: watching a young, hot- looking Jeff Bridges as country-club son, looking for his way after losing his parents, I was fascinated as I compared him to the 2010 Oscar Winner for "Crazy Heart." Catching Sally Field in one of her earliest film roles as an emotionally labile gym employee, I was impressed and even blushed a little during a brief nude scene, as I thought of the matriarch currently staring in ABC's "Brothers and Sisters." Roger E. Mosley (T.C. from "Magnum, P.I.") was funny in a supporting role; A young Robert Englund reminded me that he was an actor before he was Freddy Kruger; and a host of other actors that I only know from old TV shows (Fannie Flagg, Ed Begley, Jr. and Joanna Cassidy) put me in trivia heaven.
But it was Ah-nold...Arnold Schwarzenegger who truly surprised me, playing an attractive, low-key, approachable role as an aspiring body builder. There was nothing over-the-top or kitchy about his performance, and I enjoyed every scene he was in. If you can forgive the hokey ending (which made me think of a cheesy Gay Pride parade, although I'm sure that was unintentional), then you can really enjoy this movie.
If you don't enjoy catching actors from the 80's in their early years, might I suggest you be very bored, busy with other household activities and catching it on cable first - or else you'll just hate yourself afterward and wish for that time back.
Too bad he doesn't say I'll Be Back lol
One thing, which was totally missed, was the meaning of "Staying Hungry". Those, who are acquainted with Arnold's career and his biography*, know that "staying hungry" was one of the main life-guidelines in his whole life. A strong-willed, persistent, goal-oriented perfectionist, who was fighting all his life and, guess what - he has won! Geez, people, stop looking at Arnold as just a Terminator and governor of CA - you have a great role-model right in front of you to learn from about how true persistence brings you to your goals.
* "FANTASTIC" is a MUST READ if you're looking for something truly inspiring and motivating "I don't want to get too comfortable. I'd rather stay hungry." Keep this in mind: a talent must be ALWAYS hungry.
P.S. As for all those sexual-abuse related scandals, come one - in most European countries it's absolutely normal to flirt and hit on women, compared to the U.S., where even an "inappropriate" look may get you in serious trouble, which is absolutely ridiculous. Look at most of celebrities world-wide and the stuff they are doing on daily basis! Arnold is an angel compared to them, plus consider what he has achieved in his life. As for steroids, nearly EVERYONE was using them those days, not something to really frown upon back then.
The emergence of Competitive Bodybuilding as a main-stream Sports Competition and Spectacle has been largely credited to "the Governator" and his appearance in 1977's PUMPING IRON. Doubtless that this is a correct assumption, but is there any thing else out there, something obvious, that we are overlooking? Well the previous year we saw a United Artists release of Co-Writer-Director Bob Raphelson's STAY HUNGRY(UA, '76). It had a great cast of character actors that made for a smooth, coherent Farce-Drama-Comedy that had competitive Bodybuilding as its central theme. Starring the future super-successful Trio of Jeff Bridges, Sally Field and Arnold Schwarzenagger.
But rather than concentrating on the Physical Culture aspects of the story, our screenplay investigates some of our other virtues and vices which are universal to all mankind. And that's not to say that the background and peripheral happenings are documented. The out and out living agony of the daily grind is touched on. This alone is great evidence that these guys train as hard or harder than any athletes, period.* However, the storyline investigates all of the Human Virtues and Vices that we see in every other walk of life. We examine loyalty, betrayal, love, Sex, envy, selflessness, desire and fulfillment. Whereras we have a Bodybuilding Story, it is much more.
The story implores us to maintain our enthusiasm, to take what life offers, no matter if it concerns Biceps, Definition, Separation, Bulk, Vascularity etc., etc...
And as a final thought, Miss Sally Field speaks very fondly about her participation in STAY HUNGRY. She recalled in some interview that it was her role as Mary Tate Farnsworth that led to acceptance and opened the door to better things. At that time, there was a certain stigma about Television Acting, especially Sitcom players. They were considered to be on a "lower wrung" of the ladder and not taken so seriously. But, after this film, she did so much movie work and won a couple o' Oscars in the process.** If there is a message, here, it may well be, as the Sneakers Commercial says, "Just Do It!" Or, maybe we should take the advice of The Bard of Avon, Mr. William Shakespeare when he said, "Above all to thine own self, be true!"*** Now this is certainly a case for 'being one's self! And let's have less of "putting on the Dog."
And we remember that a young Roger Ebert was really enthusiastic about this, long before he discovered 'Thumbs'!
NOTE: * There is no mention of Anabolic Steroids in the story, not that they weren't there. Laws regulating there usage came along later.
NOTE** And Confidentially, Sally, that full length Nude Shot you did didn't hurt, either! (Woo, woo, woo, woo!)
NOTE:*** We always have recommended reading Shakespeare. Personally, I always get all of his new books, as soon as they come out!
Plot In A Paragraph A syndicate wants to buy a whole district to rebuild it. They've bought every property except the small gym "Olympic", where Mr. Austria Joe Santo (Arnie) prepares for the Mr. Universum championships.
In his supporting role, Arnie gets a 'Introducing' credit here, and he won a Golden Globe for his performance. Best Acting Debut In A Motion Picture. How that works when it isn't his movie debut, I don't know, but win he did.
His performance is OK, I don't think it's great, but it's OK. The movie actually belongs to a charming turn by Jeff Bridges and the always cute Sally Field. I remember the joy of seeing Field naked in this as a kid!! I'd fancied her since Smokey & The Bandit. Future Freddy Kruger Robert Englund is here in a supporting role, and future Sly co star Joe Spinell has a small role too.
In his autobiography Total Recall, Arnie talks about how director Bob Raffleson, asked him to take acting lessons and drop down from 240 pounds to 210. This meant he had to retire from competing at bodybuilding competitions.
Despite good reviews, United Artists didn't know how to market the movie, and it failed at the box office. Arnie was sent on The Mike Douglas show to promote it with Sally Field, and to show the 50 year old how to excercise. It was advertised in gyms and gym magazines. Arnie felt it should have been advertised as 'A Bob Raffleson picture starring Jeff Bridges and Sally Field' and then let the bodybuilding be a surprise.
I think sold differently, Stay Hungry could have done differently.
Such familiar faces as Ed Begley Jr., Scatman Crothers and Fannie Flagg appear in smaller parts, but it's mainly about Fields and Bridges, with "slice of life" views of life in a small southern community. Really, nothing happens to move the plot along. Talkie moments seem to try to manipulate the audience into thinking that something is happening, but that's rarely the case here. Crothers comes out of nowhere to tell Bridges that he's quitting (threatening to take an iron suit with him), and Fields and Bridges get into fights at Flagg's elaborate get-together. One of the gym's female instructors teaches women karate as self defense and later uses it on the thugs who break in. Eventually, this gets boring and dismal, seriously pointless, making me wonder if the film was just horribly edited. The display of a Confederate flag is also eye raising, especially since the gym employees young blacks. Frankly, after an hour, I just didn't care anymore yet suffered through the remainder of it, but even the presence of Sally and Jeff couldn't get me into it.
I don't know what was going on in the world when this was being made, but things have changed and stories are now told differently and for the most part don't include a random song and dance in the bush midway though. However, This movie does. It also includes so many other stupidly unpredictable things that watching it is a shock to the senses.
I came away from it glad that I took the jump, I might not see it again for a very long time and I am sure that when that time comes I will wonder why I am doing it, but then I'll remember.
Oh yeah, there is also some plot, acting and a mister universe contest.
Stay Hungry. 6 stars. Worth it.
The film is a bit of a mess, sort of meanders all over the place and makes no point that I could decipher. Jeff Bridges is his usual quirky self. Arnold actually acts OK in this one and even has a kissing scene with Fields ( sort of like Meryl Streep kissing Ron Jeremy). Even with the odd characters, well known actors, and quirky scenes, this film still manages some how to bore.