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Almost 25 years ago, a young foreign-born actor was walking around Hollywood with stars in his eyes. He wanted to become a star, but he was better known for his buff bod. Before Conan the Barbarian, before The Terminator, before he became just ARNOLD, Mr. Schwarzenegger was an up and coming thespian. He was an artsy type and even won a major acting award for his role in Stay Hungry. No, really!
Jeff Bridges stars as Craig Blake, a young 3rd generation rich kid without any motivation or happiness. His parents have passed away and he doesn't need to work for a living. However, he needs something to do, so Blake has joined forces with some shady businessmen in an attempt to buy a large amount of local property to build an office building. All Blake has to do is buy a little gym, the Olympic Spa, and maybe he can establish himself as a successful businessman like his father and grandfather.
When he makes his move to get in good with the gym's owner, Blake suddenly discovers a bunch of people and a lifestyle that he never knew. While hanging out with the crazy gang at the gym, Blake finds happiness with the guys, and love with Marie Tate (Sally Field). Unfortunately, Marie Tate is dating a guy who is fast becoming Blake's best buddy, body builder Joe Santo (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Will Marie Tate and Blake find true love? Can Joe Santo win the big body building competition? Will Blake be able to complete his end of the deal, or will he save the Olympic Spa?
The movie is a comedy-drama mix that works best when going for the laughs. The gang at the gym is a wonderful bunch of wild characters that entertains with its goofiness. Robert Englund (best known as Freddie Kruger) yucks it up as an oddball who brings Blake into their circle of friends, Robert Mosely (the helicopter guy from Magnum PI) is hilarious and Schwarzenegger shows some great comedic timing.
Frankly, Arnold's character is the best one in the film. He has been working his whole life to win this major competition, because he needs to pay off some big debts. His girlfriend is slowly drifting towards a new love, but he seems OK with it. It makes his character the most interesting of the bunch. That's why he received a Golden Globe for the best acting debut in a motion picture in 1977. Who knew Arnold had some acting ability?
The rest of the movie is fine, but it gets too dark in the middle. It would have been better as a full force comedic farce, but writers Charles Gaines and Bob Rafelson must have felt compelled to force a romantic story line on us and a bizarre story line surrounding the owner of the spa.
Overall, Stay Hungry satisfied my movie going palette. (THAT'S A PATHETIC PUN!)
Directed by Bob Rafelson
Written by Charles Gaines and Bob Rafelson
Based on the novel by Charles Gaines
Sally Field .. Marie Tate
Jeff Bridges Craig Blake
Arnold Schwarzenegger . Joe Santo
Robert Englund .. Franklin
Robert Mosely ... Newton
Ed Begley, Jr. Guy at party
Fannie Flagg .. Amy
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