The Complete Arnold Schwarzenegger
Newly arrived in America, Arnold was a bulging Austrian babe in the woods when his bodybuilding mentor Joe Weider helped him land the title role in Hercules Goes to New York (1970), a low-budget oddity also known as Hercules Goes Bananas. The body is definitely Arnold’s, but the unaccented voice isn’t in this ridiculous adventure involving a toga-clad Herc on the loose in modern Manhattan. From this embarrassing beginning, Schwarzenegger worked his way up to muscularly mute bit parts to sword-and-sorcery epics to action and comedy to whatever else he wants to do. Here’s a guide to Arnold’s evolution as an actor.
Stay Hungry (1976)
Arnold’s big-screen ”introduction” finds him playing the part of Joe Santo, a — what else? — bodybuilder competing for the Mr. Universe title. Also starring in Bob Rafelson’s quirky comedy-drama are Sally Field, as Schwarzenegger’s ex-sweetie, and Jeff Bridges, as the ne’er-do-well scion of an old Southern family. B
Charming moment: Arnold playing the fiddle with a hillbilly baba.
Beefcake special: Arnold’s choreographed posing at the bodybuilding contest.
Arnold as philosopher: ”I don’t like to be too comfortable. Once you get used to it, it’s hard to give up. I like to stay hungry.”
Arnold said it before Jane: ”Make the thighs burn.”
Must see: A herd of bikinied bodybuilders chasing the bad guys through the streets of Birmingham, Ala.
Pumping Iron (1977)
George Butler’s documentary on bodybuilding liberated Arnold from the confines of his sport’s limited appeal. Despite his heavy accent, Schwarzenegger’s charm and wit were immediately apparent. Some of the best scenes feature Arnold needling rival Lou Ferrigno — making remarks that Arnold has recently shrugged off, claiming he was deliberately being outrageous simply to sell it. Whatever, his description of ”the pump” remains a ribald classic: ”The most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump. Let’s say you train your biceps. Blood is rushing into your muscles, and that’s what we call the pump. Your muscles get a really tight feeling, like your skin is going to explode any minute, you know, it’s really tight it’s like somebody blowing air into your muscle. It feels fantastic. (Arnold flexes.) It’s as satisfying to me as, uh, coming is. You know, as, ah, having sex with a woman and coming. And so can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am like, uh, getting the feeling of coming in a gym; I’m getting the feeling of coming at home; I’m getting the feeling of coming backstage, when I pump up-when I pose out in front of 5,000 people, I get the same feeling. So I am coming day and night .” A
The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980)
Loni Anderson and Arnold team up in a simpleminded TV movie that portrays Marilyn Monroe-knockoff Mansfield as a tragic figure kept from the beefcake she loves, strongman Mickey Hargitay, by the evil studio. C-
Best line: ”It’s like my English something gets lost in the translation.”
Best scene: An angry Arnold smashing his free weights.
Arnold as analyst: ”It really mattered to her to be a success. I always wondered what was it replacing in her life? What needs did it meet?”
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Schwarzenegger’s breakthrough as an action hero found him battling the leader of a nasty snake cult (James Earl Jones at his Darth Vader-voiced best). The plot seems to have something to do with Conan’s struggle to solve ”the riddle of steel,” which will confer ”ultimate power.” John Milius, director, and Oliver Stone teamed up for a heavy-handed adaptation of this sword-is-mightier-than-anything romp. When the picture grossed more than $50 million, Hollywood took notice. A-
Best line: (Arnold enumerating life’s pleasures) ”To crush your enemies, see them die before you, and to hear the lamentations of the women.”
Best romantic interlude: In the middle of some epic lovemaking, Arnold’s beautiful partner turns into a vicious snake. He strangles it and tosses it in a fire.
Blazing Saddles rip-off: Arnold punches out a camel.
Don’t miss: Tied to a cross, Arnold bites off the head of a marauding vulture.
Arnold as supplicant: ”(God) grant me one request revenge. And if you do not listen, to hell with you.”
Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Blood, gore, evil queens, beautiful princesses, juvenile humor, and a climactic battle with a grisly monster designed by E.T. creator Carlo Rambaldi mark Arnold’s less successful sequel to Conan. Singer Grace Jones looks mighty fetching as Conan’s scantily clad buddy; basketball great Wilt Chamberlain makes a scary foe. B
Blazing Saddles rip-off II: Arnold apologizes to the camel he clocked in the original, then punches it out again after it spits on him.
Cheapest special effect: The sinking of an obviously miniature ice castle.
Beefcake special: Arnold twirls his two-ton sword for no apparent reason while flexing for the camera.
Arnold’s laconic humor: Girl-”I suppose nothing hurts you.” Arnold- ”Only pain.”
Best line: ”It’s bad luck to kill a wizard.”
Least threatening action: The Demon tries to crush Conan’s skull.
The Terminator (1984)
Arnold’s best picture so far, and the only time he has played a villain. Director James Cameron’s powerful sci-fi shoot-’em-up centers on two visitors from the future who materialize in contemporary Los Angeles: a badass cyborg (Arnold) out to kill an innocent woman (Linda Hamilton) and a man (Michael Biehn) sent to stop him. Arnold is truly menacing as the nearly indestructible killing machine. A+
Signature line: ”I’ll be back.” (Said to a policeman by Arnold before he returns and destroys the station house.)
Second most memorable line: ”F— you, asshole.” (When presented with five options in his memory bank, Arnold picks the appropriate response.)
Third most memorable line: ”You’re terminated, f—.” (Said by the pursued woman when the cyborg, now reduced to a metal skeleton, finally bites the dust.)
Is it real or is it Arnold: After Arnold loses his protective shell in a car chase and explosion, an animated puppet replaces him for the last 15 minutes.
Beefcake special: Arnold arrives in the present completely naked (side and rear views) during the film’s opening moments.
Red Sonja (1985)
This disappointing movie cured Arnold of sword and sorcery forever. A pre-pneumatic Brigitte Nielsen plays the title character opposite Arnold’s Kalidor, the only male warrior who can match Sonja’s combat prowess. The almost identically dressed pair join forces to thwart yet another evil queen threatening to rule — or destroy — the world. C
Most appropriate line: ”In life, all is not swordplay.”
Arnold as chauvinist: ”You didn’t want a man’s help, but you needed it.”
Most gruesome scenes: Arnold cuts off a villain’s arm. A severed head floats through the air in arty slo-mo.
Best action: Arnold wrestling with the Killing Machine, a mechanical alligator-like creature.
Total action from start to finish, with Arnold playing Col. John Matrix, ultimate soldier and one-man gang, who has to rescue his young daughter after she’s snatched by a fully equipped private army. A-
Let’s get on with it: An opening montage shows Arnold and his daughter fishing, swimming, and eating ice cream together before all hell breaks loose.
Most exciting scene: Arnold exits a jetliner during takeoff by climbing onto the landing gear and jumping to safety.
Arnold’s signature line II: ”I’ll be back, Bennett.”
Best pause between machine-gun bursts: Arnold tosses a buzz-saw blade like a Frisbee with predictable results.
Action humor at its finest: ”You’re a funny guy, Sully. I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.”
Obligatory beefcake: Arnold strips off his shirt for the final shoot-out.
Raw Deal (1986)
Arnold plays disgraced ex-FBI agent Mark Kaminsky, who tries to work his way back onto the force by infiltrating the Chicago mob. Blood, gore, and stunts are up to par, but Arnold’s 007-style one-liners fall flat. B
Arnold’s silliest line: ”Who do you think I am? Dirty Harry?”
Most embarrassing moment: Arnold as a slobbering drunken lover.
Obligatory beefcake: The camera caresses Arnold flexing his glistening pecs while strapping on enough weaponry to invade Panama.
Arnold as rock & roller: He machine-guns everyone in sight as the Rolling Stones’ ”(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” blares away on his car radio.
The Running Man (1987)
Arnold plays Ben Richards, a 21st-century policeman wrongly convicted of slaughtering 1,500 innocent people. He winds up on TV’s most popular show, The Running Man, where inmates can win freedom by making their way through a ”playing field” filled with vicious killers dubbed Stalkers. A
Best supporting actor: Popular real-life game-show host Richard Dawson is terrific as the show’s smarmy emcee.
Funniest moment: The commercial for another program, called Climbing for Dollars, which features a man with money in his mouth trying to escape snarling dogs by climbing a rope.
Most gruesome scene: Arnold buzz-saws an assailant in two from the groin up. (His quip: ”He had to split.”)
Signature line III, punctured: When Arnold says, ”I’ll be back,” Dawson replies, ”Only in a rerun.”
Another sci-fi actionfest, but set in the present. Arnold leads a crack military outfit stationed in Central America that has the misfortune of running into an extremely unfriendly alien. A-
Most cliched sci-fi line: (After spraying the alien with bullets) ”Nothing on earth could have lived at that range.”
Best scene: Arnold’s mano-a-alieno no-holds-barred showdown.
Hide your eyes: Arnold’s men are found skinned and hanging from trees.
Hide your eyes II: Arnold’s macho buddy Carl Weathers has his arm cut off by a laser.
Butch Cassidy award: Arnold’s double falls from a cliff into a waterfall and is swept away.
Best dialogue: None. (But who cares?)
Red Heat (1988)
Jim Belushi teams up with Arnold in an East-West addition to the odd-couple-cop genre. Arnold is believably stone-faced as a highly disciplined Soviet cop teamed with slob Chicago detective Belushi to track down Russian drug dealers. B
Beefcake special: An artfully shot nude Arnold battles artfully shot nude villains in a Turkish bath.
Beefcake special II: The combatants continue their bare-skinned, bare-knuckled brawl in the snow.
Most obvious statement: After a dozen or so people die violently, Arnold reveals, ”I’m not on holiday here.”
Action orgy: Arnold and the bad guys chase each other in buses and destroy much of Chicago in the process.
In his first outright comedy, Arnold is cast as Danny DeVito’s twin brother — the result of an ambitious genetic experiment gone wrong. As a highly educated but naive giant, Arnold has some fine comic moments as sleazeball DeVito introduces him to life’s seamy side. Twins grossed more than $110 million, making it Arnold’s biggest film to date. A-
Most labored joke: Arnold seeing a Rambo poster and shaking his head in disbelief at Sylvester Stallone’s muscles.
Arnold against type: ”I don’t know what the problem is, but I’m sure it can be resolved without resorting to violence.”
<p Arnold, reverting: ”For the first time in my life, I’m pissed off.” (He kicks a door off its hinges.)
Obligatory beefcake: Arnold tears his shirt and has to strip down when he buys a new one.
Cute gag: The grin on Arnold’s face after he makes love for the first time.
Variation on signature line: ”If you’re lying to me, I’ll be back.”
Most charming moment: DeVito teaching Arnold to dance.
Arnold as philosopher: ”No one ever said being good is easy.”