Pumping Iron (1977)


Pumping Iron (Sport, Biography, Documentary 1977) (12) D : George Butler and Rober Fiore: W: Charles Gaines (book “Pumping Iron”): C: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Mike Katz, Franco Columbu 1h 25m. USA.

 Synopsis: From Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach California to the showdown in Pretoria, amateur and professional bodybuilders prepare for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests in this part-scripted, part-documentary film. Five-time champion Arnold Schwarzenegger defends his Mr. Olympia title against Serge Nubret and the shy young deaf Lou Ferrigno, whose father is his coach; the ruthless champ psyches out the young lion. Sardinian Franco Columbu competes in the lightweight class; at home in Italy he solves a tight parking problem by lifting the car into place. Joe Weider is the marketer; Mike Katz and Ken Waller go for the title of Mr. Universe. Bodybuilding and a celebrity-to-be go mainstream.

A sweaty slice of 1970’s muscle and bitching, glory riding and iron pumping. This movie is one of the early documentaries that had so much character and potential it could easily be adapted into a cinematic film and excite a new generation of body builders and cinema fans simultaneously. The sport was defiantly at a new high point in the 1970’s with the arrival of Arnie and Lou this helped build many illustrious careers. There are constant broken English quips from Arnold throughout as he is the focus of the film. While the rest of the plot revolved around the physical and emotional struggle to the Olympia. With no discernible screenplay as the film is based on documentary footage, the cinematography while instant there is a lot of obvious close-ups on the individuals and their “amazing” bodies, as there aren’t too many sweeping landscapes in Golds Gym.

The personality of the young buff men is enough to carry this film on through the ages, as one of the long loved bodybuilding movies possibly of all time. It was enough to warrant a sequel of the ladies of body building only a few years later.

Despite hardcore followers knowing the results of the Olympia and the run up events, this film lends it popularity to going behind the scenes and showing the gruelling and comedic training and quirky personalities that are usually hidden behind closed gym doors. It gives light to those intimate moments behind the stage and it certainly does have a group of very entertaining bolshoi people to study for this distinctive venture.

For most of the time the body builders were not heard and just seen sporadically on stage. Within pumping iron there is a first chance to see the sportsmen talking for themselves (and what a job they made of it), it’s half the cringingly bad rapport that you’d expect and half amazingly sentimental and intellectual talks with other builders, it really did open the doors on what is really going on behind the muscle in the gym.

If your not into the sport or a fan at all, then it won’t be as rewarding but it’s still pretty entertaining, if only for the unashamed schits and giggles.

R: Pumping Iron II (1985) Foxcatcher (2014), Generation Iron (2013)

Q: Arnold “Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.”
TIL: Working out in the gym is like cumming…. I’d like to add that I am yet to experience this..
BS: Overall my best scene award goes to Arnies interview when he talks about giving “advices”.
L: Sports Documentaries.Body Builders in Movies.
DGI: Knock a Shot every time a guy flexs his biceps.
5B: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno


Rating : 9/10