EDITOR’S NOTE: As the site celebrates Arnold’s 75th birthday, I’ll be featuring multiple articles about his movies every single day. To start, well, we start at the bottom with his first film, not even using the Schwarzenegger name. Originally posted on December 5, 2020, this is Hercules In New York.
Whatever happened to the star of this movie, Arnold “Mr. Universe” Strong? Oh yeah. He grew up to be the greatest action star of all time, that’s what. But this movie is the very definition of starting small, as Arnold Schwarzenegger — 22 years old and laying brick with his lifting buddy Franco Columb — was told by his friend Reg Park (who took over for Steve Reeves in Hercules and the Captive Women) that he should shoot for his dream of being a movie star.
This wouldn’t do it.
It’s also the first film for director Arthur Allan Seidelman, who mainly did stage and TV work like the Nancy McKeon TV movie of the week Strange Voices.
If you ever wanted to see Hercules get sick of Mount Olympus and go to Earth, where he becomes a pro wrestler as well as best friends with a pretzel salesman named Pretzie (Arnold Stang, who between this movie, Ghost Dad, Dondi and Skidoo* has pretty much been in the very worst of the worst in film), well, then this movie fills out all of your boxes with a sharp number two pencil.
James Karen (Poltergeist, Return of the Living Dead) and Richard Herd (the Supreme Commander from V) show up, as does four-time Mr. Universe, one-time owner of the biggest escort service in California and later evangelist Dennis Tinerino.
Also, just to be a total anal retentive nerd, I want to mention that while Zeus, Nemesis, Eros, Pluto and Atlas are Greek gods, Hercules, Venus, Juno, Mercury and Neptune are the Roman versions, while Samson — who is kind of, sort of Hercules’ brother in this — comes from The Bible.
So yeah. Hercules comes to New York and gets mixed up with the mob and a pretzel salesman before coming back to Mount Olympus and sending a message on the radio.
*For some reason, I kind of love Skidoo.
You can watch this on Tubi.