Stay Hungry (1976)

Stay Hungry (1976), directed by Bob Rafelson.


"Craig, what happens to body builders when they get old?" -- Uncle Albert

(Well, Al, sometimes they get into acting and become governor of California).

Rich kid Jeff Bridges plays at life and love and work without making any serious effort or commitment. It's killing him. Can he find something that really matters?

He's fallen in with some real estate hustlers and needs to buy a decrepit old gym to complete their block development project. Instead he becomes interested in the odd assortment of people there and saves the gym.

This looks like it is going to be a story about revenge of the young guy with old money against the sleazy new money operators, but the plot loses focus and lapses sideways. We have some romantic moments and many bizarrities, culminating in a Mr Universe bodybuilder rampage though downtown Birmingham Alabama.

Sally Field is the pert romantic lead. We have minimal nudity, although in one scene her untanned bare buns reminded me of the old Coppertone Girl ad:

This is a great early role for Arnold Schwarzenegger. He actually seems the kindest, most gentle and even wisest character. He plays fiddle with an old-timey band; I don't suppose he really plays. His girlfriends accept that he is not monogamous. When we finally see him oiled-up in the bodybuilder competition: I'm sure the audience gasped.

One of the amazing people in this film is old time character actor R.G. Armstrong, a familiar face in westerns and often featured by Sam Peckinpah. Here he is the crazed gym owner, age 59 and mostly unclothed in a monster fight with Jeff Bridges. Stay away when he's sniffing amyl capsules.

Good roles for Scatman Crothers (The Shining (1980)) and Robert Englund (later "Freddy Kruger").

I don't know the soap opera details of the production, but have read that an affair between the director and Field (and others?) caused a lot of trouble.

This is available on Blu-ray but I haven't seen that version. My thumbnails are from the DVD.