Everyone loves Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's one of the biggest draws in the history of Hollywood. And it doesn't matter if you think his films are any good, once good, or not good whatsoever--you can't deny Arnold's magnetism. Whether you're a fan of Arnold or not, you can't deny that some of his films have had a major influence on popular culture, not to mention having spawned many sequels and references.
Most of us have seen The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Commando, Red Heat
etc.., but Arnold's actually made an entire slew of him that for whatever reason haven't received the respect that they deserve to date. Whether if that's because of the size of the film, or the fact that it hasn't been released widely into the home video market--nonetheless, Arnold is a great actor, and shouldn't be known simply for his lugubrious one-liners and high octane action films.
What follows are 5 Arnold films that you probably haven't seen (but should) in no particular order:
Last Action Hero (1993)
With its fate sealed almost before it was released theatrically in 1993, Last Action Hero was one of the worst-reviewed films in the history of Hollywood. Arnold plays a vigilante cop, "Jack Slater," who encounters a young boy, who claims to have been sucked into his world through a movie screen. It's a meta-film. And within it's film-within-a-film-within-a-film, it really went over the heads of its audience when it was released. Firstly, because it was a quite dense metaphysical film with many Bergman avant-garde film elements and references but because Arnold played himself more or less, and it wasn't the high octane shoot-em-up that fans of Arnold's films were expecting.
The film marked the end of the overindulgent big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, as Last Action Hero was a colossal flop. The Producers of the film, including Arnold, had a specific vision for the film and in the end, it was too ambitious a work considering the caliber of an audience that would experience it.
As part of Arnold's come back following his Governorship of California, Maggie is a zombie drama that features Schwarzenegger side-by-side with actress Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson. The film ran the gamut of film festival screenings in 2014, gaining warm reviews, with critics praising Arnold as an actor. Following Arnold leaving office in California, he jumped full steam back into movie-making, appearing in a slew of prototypical action films that fans of his past work would expect like Escape Plan, The Last Stand etc.., but Maggie serves as his foray into the low-budget art film--a welcomed turn for a great actor who has been completely hindered in the role of the tough-guy big-budget action star.
Stay Hungry (1976)
Arnold has always had a knack for comedy, regardless of how awkward or unfunny any of his fans felt about his turn in Twins with Danny DeVito. And in this early film in which he shot at the beginning of his career, Arnold is Gold. Winning a Golden Globe for his debut in Bob Rafelson's Stay Hungry, a film shot in 1976, Arnold plays a bodybuilder who is training for the Mr. Universe competition who gets mixed up in a real estate scam via a character played by Jeff Bridges. The film was based on a 1972 novel written by Charles Gaines, and while many would suggest that Arnold was playing himself in Stay Hungry, or, at least, a variation on his own persona of the late '70s, the film cast a light on Arnold where his previous work in films like 1970's Hercules in New York lampooned him.
The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980)
While not a huge role, Arnold takes on the role of Mickey Hargitay, the bodybuilder-turned-actor who was married to sex symbol actress Jayne Mansfield from the mid 1950s until her tragic death by car accident in the late '60s. Arnold really sees Hargitay as ne'er-do-well who cares immensely for Mansfield, serves as the father of her children, and more or less gives us his own career to manage hers. The movie was made for CBS and aired on the network in October of 1980.
Arnold re-teams with Ivan Reitman and Danny DeVito to make Junior, which finds Arnold in the role of a scientist who undergoes being pregnant for the sake of an experiment. While many, fans of Arnold's films in particular, saw the movie
poster art and stayed away in droves, Director Reitman, understands Arnold's comic sensibilities and saw the narrative of the story as high-comedy. Roger Ebert, the Chicago film critic said of Arnold's performance: " "I know this sounds odd, but Schwarzenegger is perfect for the role. Observe his acting carefully in Junior, and you'll see skills that many serious actors could only envy
." While the film was a modest success at the box office, Arnold's fans stayed away making the film a late night talk show joke in its day.