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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THIS FILM IS an installment of a Canadian broadcast series of
documentaries. As such, it is just one little cog in a sort of
journalistic pursuit in portraying Weider, the real man, vs. the
distortions, amplifications and untruths that may have crept into the
image of someone as unique as Mr. Joseph Weider (1919-2013).
WITHOUT BENEFIT OF any fanfare or even the hint of any sort of bias, endorsement or suggestion of favoritism, the production team digs into the humble origins of Joe and younger brother, Ben Weider (1923-2008). This neutral position was perhaps the very best example of what any and all journalistic pursuits are supposed to be; at least in the area of reporting the news of the day.
RETURNING TO THE roots of their lives, the story hearkens back to the boys' early lives as the offspring of a Polish-Jewish immigrant couple in working class Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Like so many others, life meant working at so many blue-collar occupations. Further complicating matters was the ever present menace of Anti-Semitism and its effects on so many populations in urban North America and other places.
IT WAS THIS need for self-defense and self-preservation that at least in part was responsible for the young Weiders' interest in physical culture, competitive weightlifting and general interest in many varied self defense disciplines.
THEY DID GET involved in progressive resistance exercise (aka bodybuilding), even to the extent of fashioning their own makeshift dumbbells and barbells. Attending their local YMCA brought them information and instruction in learning the (then) Three Olympic Lifts of: The Press, The Snatch & The Clean & Jerk. Reportedly, Joe was a pretty fair Middleweight (165 lb. class).
ONE VERY IMPORTANT incident occurred during World War II that "Lucky" Joe seized upon.* When the United States entered the War, UI.S. Postal regulations severely restricted the sending of periodicals out of the country. At that time Bob Hoffman's STRENGTH & HEALTH was the pre-eminent journal of Weightlifting and Physical Culture/Bodybuilding.
SOMEHOW THE ENTERPRISING young Joe Weider obtained a list of Canadian subscribers to S & H. In place of the slickly produced magazine, Joe and brother Ben offered his then mimeographed publication in YOUR PHYSIQUE. It was a humble, but brilliant start to the world wide commercial venture in publishing, equipment manufacture and nutritional supplements the was Weider Enterprises.
THE FOUNDING OF the International Federation of Body Builders by Joe, Ben and then partner, Dan Lurie of NYC, is chronicled and its opposition from other sports federation is given a close scrutiny.
AT THAT POST WWII period, Olympic Weightlifting and its step son, the Physique "Mr." contests were conducted in the U.S. and Canada by the Amateur Athletic Union. Opposition from this body (improperly referred to here as the "American Athletic Union")is reported as a cause of the slow progress of the IFBB in those early days.
OVERALL, THIS EPISODE of the documentary anthology THE LIFE AND TIMES was well done and was a subject matter that had to be made and finally was. It is a great companion piece to the installment of th TV Series BIOGRAPHY: Charles Atlas, A Modern Hercules.
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