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Stay Hungry by Bob Rafelson []



There’s just something about the “New Hollywood” films of the 1970’s…  The budgets were smaller, but the films seem to resonate so much more than your typical, bloated Hollywood picture.  With less resources, the directors of these movies focused on telling stories.
Bob Rafelson’s Stay Hungry tells the story of a recently orphaned grown, southern man named Craig Blake (Jeff Bridges).   The opening shot is of the beautiful Blake estate and the narration of a letter read by Craig’s uncle advising his nephew to continue the family tradition and get into steel business.  The younger Blake ignores his relative’s advice and teams up with a group of shady real estate sharks to buy out the businesses in a downtown building to may way for an office high-rise.
His colleagues are quickly successful in securing the property and they impatiently await Blake’s seizure of the last independent establishment, a local gym.  Here Blake meets a cast of interesting characters including the beautiful, small town receptionist Mary Tate Farnsworth (Sally Field) and the zen body builder/fiddle player Joe Santo (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  After visiting on several occasions trying to get the nerve to make an offer from the manic gym’s owner, Blake, a man who recently lost those close to him, finds a surrogate family with the regular gym rats and also eventually falls for Mary Tate.
The struggle to seize the gym, a conflict between the various classes of wealth depicted, an upcoming Mr. Universe pageant, the sometimes troubled romance of Craig and Mary Tate and an exceptionally strange and lengthy fight sequence, make Stay Hungry a wonderful comedy/drama piece.  The principle actors all give some of the best performances of their careers and the film is full of unforgettable featured players.

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