Monday, July 30, 2012

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Essential Films

Today is the Governator's (people still call him that, right?) birthday!  On July 30, 1947 the man who would become (arguably) the biggest action movie hero of all time came into this world and we here at the Essential Films would like to take a minute to celebrate him.  After a side career in politics running the state of California, Arnie is showing no signs of slowing down at age 65.  He pops up in this summer's machofest The Expendables 2 plus he's got a few movies in the can.  So let's take a look at some of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Essential Films.

(Note, this is not a countdown. Films are listed in chronological order.)

The Long Goodbye (1973)
Contrary to popular belief, Arnold's first film appearance was not in Pumping Iron, it was actually Hercules in New York. However, rather than subject you to that atrocity, I'll point you to this: Arnold appeared as a henchman in Robert Altman's Philip Marlowe detective noir.  It's a small role, for sure, but true Arnold fans will get a kick out of it.

Conan The Barbarian (1982)
If movie audiences didn't know who Arnold was in 1982, after Conan The Barbarian was released that summer he certainly became a household name.  John Milius cast him as the titular Cimmerian who crushes his enemies, sees them driven before him and hears the lamentation of their women.  To this day, still the most faithful and well-respected adaptation of the character.

The Terminator (1984)
From titular hero to titular villain.  Arnold donned the black leather jacket and shades for the first of three times in 1984's groundbreaking (and for James Cameron, career-making) sci-fi action classic.  Arnold's portrayal of the unstoppable killing machine can be discounted by some as (pun-intended) robotic, but this blogger disagrees.  Arnold's Terminator is a chilling and terrifying movie monster.

Predator (1987)
Another sci-fi/action/horror classic from the 80s.  Only this time Arnold isn't the hunter, he's the hunted.  Arnold and a squadron of tough guy commandos  navigate through an unforgiving jungle as an unseen threat takes them out one-by-one.  Finally only Arnold is left standing to defend himself from this stalker from the stars.

Total Recall (1990)
Based on the Phillip K. Dick story "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale," Total Recall is getting a big-budget remake due out in a few weeks starring Colin Farrell.  And while the movie does look impressive, Arnold played the sci-fi hero with the questionable memories first... on Mars no less.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992)
Back in the cybernetic skin again, Arnold reprised his role as a T-800 in Cameron's record-breaking sequel.  This time Arnold is the hero, protecting John Connor and his mother, Sarah, from the murderous and even more unstoppable T-1000.  T2 may not only be Schwarzenegger's best film, but it's easily one of the best action movies ever made.  It also sits very comfortably in our Top 100 films of all time.

Hasta la vista, baby.