Stay Hungry

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Rating: R

Starring:
Jeff Bridges as Craig Blake
Sally Field as Mary Tate Farnsworth
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Joe Santo
R.G. Armstrong as Thor Erickson
Robert Englund as Franklin
Helena Kallianiotes as Anita
Roger E. Mosley as Newton
Woodrow Parfrey as Craig’s Uncle Albert
Scatman Crothers as William
Kathleen Miller as Dorothy Stephens
Fannie Flagg as Amy
Joanna Cassidy as Zoe
Richard Gilliland as Hal
Mayf Nutter as Packman
Ed Begley Jr. as Lester

Special Features:
Commentary by Director Bob Rafelson, Jeff Bridges, and Sally Field

Video Introduction by Director Bob Rafelson

Original Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in 1976. It was based on the book by Charles Gaines (who also wrote Pumping Iron).

Craig Blake is a young, wealthy entrepreneur involved in a real estate deal with some shady partners. In order for them to build a high rise in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, they need Blake to buy the last remaining piece of property on the block. There is currently a gymnasium located there.

When Craig goes to make the owner an offer, he meets the colorful group of characters who work and train there. There’s the gruff owner Thor Erickson, the trainer and ‘grease man’ Franklin, and tough karate instructor Anita. There’s also Joe Santo, a good hearted and multi-talented Austrian bodybuilder. Craig and Joe eventually become friends as Craig finds him to be a refreshing change from his usual social elite friends. Craig also falls for gymnast Mary Tate Farnsworth. Despite her blue collar background, he likes the fact that she’s a real person.

As Craig’s business partners get antsy for him to buy the gym, Craig finds himself more and more reluctant to do so. Everyone there has become like a second family to him. But what will happen when his social elite friends meet his new friends from the gym? And what will happen when his partners insist on buying the gym?

Stay Hungry is rated R as it features nudity, sexual situations, and language.

The Movie:
Stay Hungry is a film most people have never heard of, but it’s notable for its quirkiness and its incredible array of big name stars shown early in their careers.

Starring in the film is Jeff Bridges. While this was by no means his first film, it is still a highlight from early in his career. He’s excellent as Craig Blake, the wealthy young man seeking direction in his life. Bridges seems equally at home at the country club or in the middle of a bodybuilding contest. He also has good chemistry with Sally Field as Mary Tate Farnsworth. This was only her second feature film despite her extensive television background. (I’m sure more than a few Flying Nun fans were surprised by her nude scenes in this movie.) Mary Tate is cute, enthusiastic, and a bit trashy. It’s easy to see why Blake would become attracted to her. Arnold Schwarzenegger rounds out the starring cast as Joe Santo. This was Schwarzenegger’s third film, but it was definitely his best quality one up until that date. It’s a role that both suits him perfectly while at the same time being extremely out of character for him. For example, we see Arnie in a bodybuilding contest which is, of course, right up his alley. Then later we see him in a gold shirt with a green scarf playing fiddle with a country band at a country club. It’s not exactly the place you’d imagine the Terminator to be hanging out. Still, Schwarzenegger plays the role well and shows surprising versatility in this film. He won a Golden Globe in 1977 for this role for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture.

The supporting cast is also filled with faces you’ll recognize. There’s Ed Begley Jr., Joanna Cassidy, character actor R.G. Armstrong, Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Roger E. Mosley (Magnum P.I.), Scatman Crothers, and others.

While the plot if fairly standard, the film is still at times very bizarre and switches dramatically in tone. Besides Schwarzenegger playing fiddle, there’s a scene towards the end where bodybuilders storm the streets of Birmingham. They are seen posing for onlookers, doing flips in the streets, and striking poses on top of a moving bus. These scenes are preceded with scenes of Sally Field’s character about to be raped. As you can see, it goes from comedy to drama rather abruptly. The same changes can be said for the characters. In one scene you think Craig and Joe are friends, in the next you think Joe is going to tear Craig’s head off. Then Sally Field is shown sleeping with Craig, then in the very next scene kissing Joe. I got lost as to who were friends with whom in this film.

But as weird and quirky as this movie is, I think fans of Bridges, Field, and Schwarzenegger will be very interested in checking it out. It’s a unique addition to their film careers and one that most people have probably overlooked.

The Extras:
Besides including both widescreen and fullscreen versions on this DVD, there are some additional bonus features. Here are the highlights:

Video Introduction by Director Bob Rafelson – Rafelson introduces the film by explaining how he was given the book by author Charles Gaines. He then explains how he traveled with Schwarzenegger for a year to learn about bodybuilding and how he eventually ended up casting the future superstar and governor. Rafelson seems nervous in the video and looks everywhere around him except at the camera.

Commentary by Director Bob Rafelson, Jeff Bridges, and Sally Field – In this commentary, Rafelson reiterates much of what he said in the video introduction, but he is joined by Bridges and Field. Field mentions that this is the first audio commentary that she has ever done. They all watch the film and reminisce like friends watching old home movies. There are long stretches where they say nothing, but they generally keep the conversation interesting and lively. The fact that Schwarzenegger is now their governor comes up repeatedly.

The Bottom Line:
Stay Hungry is not a film for everyone, but if you find yourself curious about it, then that means you’ll probably find it worth checking out. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find it to be good, but it means you’re more likely to give it a chance than most people.

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