directed by George Butler and Robert Fiore (1976)
It’s always been hard for me to believe that Pumping Iron is a great movie, not just as a piece of bizarro kitsch, but a respected documentary that frequently tops reasonable peoples’ lists of their favorite films… until I watched it, of course. The film, set during and before the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition in South Africa, follows the king of the sport, Aaanold as well as his upstart competition, a then sweet and dopey kid named Lou Ferrigno, his friend and fellow champion, Franco Columbo and other lesser known men striving to achieve success in the unique world of body building.
The movie shares much with some of my favorite documentaries: the well renowned The King of Kong and the criminally forgotten Derby in that it’s an intimate portrait of a small subculture that is strange to most of us; it’s always fascinating to get into the minds of people obsessed with what they love.
It’s a well made piece of vérité that’s infinitely quotable:
“It’s like I’m cumming all the time” – Arnold
“I’m the kind of person that’s like the kind of dog that’s going to bite back” – Mike Katz
“I was always dreaming about powerful people – dictators and things like that” – Arnold
“Milk is for babies. When you grow up you drink beer” – Arnold
After years of being unavailable, the DVD can now be widely purchased, so do enjoy!