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Pumping Iron

Catalog Number
VCF3175
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Primary Distributor (If not listed, select "OTHER")
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VHS | SP | Slipcase
87 mins (NTSC)
N/A | N/A | N/A
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Pumping Iron (1976)

Additional Information

Additional Information
Mind and Body

Arnold Schwarzenegger gained his first real notoriety outside body-building circles with this documentary about a group of men training for the Mr. Olympia contest. Arnold had already won the title six times before, and was training for his seventh victory before retiring to fully pursue his acting career (which began to catch fire with his likable turn in Stay Hungry, released the same year) when this was shot. Here he displays an easy charm and wicked sense of humor as he plays mind games with his competitors and explains how getting pumped up for competition always reminded him of sex (which might explain why he seems so cheerful). And what is Arnold smoking in his dressing room after the contest? Future Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno is also on hand, and his fierce determination as he goes through a brutal weight lifting regimen shouting "Arnold! Arnold!" speaks both to his own desire to win and how strong a presence Schwarzenegger was in body-building at the time. You don't have to be a body building fan to enjoy Pumping Iron, though Arnold is the one contestant who shows obvious star quality.


Pumping Iron is a 1977 docudrama about the world of bodybuilding, focusing on the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions. Inspired by a book of the same name by Charles Gaines and George Butler, the film nominally focuses on the competition between Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of his primary competitors for the title of Mr. Olympia, Lou Ferrigno. The film also features brief segments focusing on bodybuilders Franco Columbu and Mike Katz, in addition to appearances by Ken Waller, Ed Corney, Serge Nubret, and other famous bodybuilders of the era.
Shot during the 100 days leading up to the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions and during the competitions themselves, the filmmakers ran out of funds to finish production, and it stalled for two years. Ultimately, Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilders featured in the film helped to raise funds to complete production, and it was released in 1977. The film became a box office success, making Schwarzenegger a household name. The film also served to popularize the then somewhat niche culture of bodybuilding, helping to inspire the fitness craze of the 1980s; following the film's release, there was a marked increase in the number of commercial gyms in the United States.[1][2] The film was released on CED, VHS, and then re-released on DVD in 2003 for the 25th Anniversary of the theatrical debut. The film inspired three sequels: George Butler's Pumping Iron II: The Women in 1985, a documentary about the world of female bodybuilding; and David and Scott McVeigh's Raw Iron in 2002, a documentary about the making of Pumping Iron and how the film affected the lives of those who appeared in it; and Vlad Yudin's 2013 documentary Generation Iron - Pumping Iron producer Jerome Gary also served as executive producer on Generation Iron.

The film received highly positive reviews with the review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 22 out the 23 reviews they tallied for the film were positive for a score of 96% and a certification of "fresh".[6] The website summarized the critics consensus by saying that "In addition to offering an enlightening early look into the world of future star/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pumping Iron provides a witty and insightful overview of competitive bodybuilding

Release Date: January 1977


Distrib: Cinema V

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