Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • AA
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 1976
  • 102 mins

Stay Hungry

Stay Hungry


An unlikely friendship develops between a money-minded slacker and a muscle-bound idealist. Comedy-drama starring Jeff Bridges and Arnold Schwarzenegger


Bob Rafelson is a figure of massive pop cultural importance. Together with Steve Blauner and Bert Schneider, he was a founder of BBS, the hugely influential production company behind counterculture classics such as The Last Picture Show. Rafelson was also a highly successful director, helming movies like The King Of Marvin Gardens, the classic Five Easy Pieces and a remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice. As if that wasn't enough, he also created TV pop phenomenon The Monkees.

Rafelson probably wouldn't be so widely celebrated if his reputation rested solely on Stay Hungry. Adapted by Rafelson and Charles Gaines from the latter's novel, it's a fun but fluffy affair that's heavily defined by 1970s kitsch. Although it feels very dated, this does feature lovely work from Jeff Bridges together with an early supporting turn from an Austrian bloke with a long name who looks like a condom stuffed full of walnuts.

In post-Watergate America, a real estate syndicate tries to buy up a rundown neighbourhood for redevelopment. With most of the tenants happy to move, the only thing standing between the suits and the millions they hope to make is Joe Santo (Schwarzenegger), a bodybuilder who's using his gym to train for the Mr Universe contest. Being both evil and pissed-off, the syndicate brings in a jaunty young chap called Craig Blake (Bridges) to purchase the establishment by proxy. But what seems like a straightforward scheme is scuppered when Craig befriends Joe and falls in love with his friend Mary Tate (Field).

Okay, so it sounds harmless enough, but while there are things to like about Rafelson's film, the proceedings are spoilt by the director's desire to make some sort of statement about the small guy sticking it to The Man. Not that this isn't a point worth making, but it loses some of its potency when cloaked with a set-up as goofy as this. Some of the performances are problematic too - even an actress as talented as Field can't help but look out of place. As for the plaudits Schwarzenegger received, they say more about his skills as a politician than his gifts as an actor.

Still, like any film starring Jeff Bridges, Stay Hungry does have one thing very much in its favour. It's impossible not to like a man so lazily charismatic. However, as good as he is here, the combination of Stay Hungry and John Guillermin's disastrous King Kong remake (both made in 1976) put Bridges off acting for three years.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Jeff Bridges, Robert Englund, R G Armstrong, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Helena Kallianiotes, Sally Field
  • Director: Bob Rafelson
  • Writer: Charles Gaines
  • Producer: Bob Rafelson
  • Photographer: Victor J Kemper
  • Composer: Byron Berline, Bruce Langhorne

In a nutshell

Very much a product of its time, Stay Hungry is indulgent and only sporadically amusing, but kept afloat by a typically charming Jeff Bridges.

by Richard Luck

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    The Salt Of The Earth

    Brazilian documentary about the life of visionary photographer Sebastião Salgado, directed by Wim Wenders and Sebastião's son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

    On Film4: 2 Nov 1:00AM

  • Film4


    AnnaLynne McCord stars as a teenager with an unhealthy fascination with gore and surgery.

    On Film4: 29 Oct 11:05PM

  • Film4

    Black Cinema Season on Film4

    To tie-in with the launch of the BFIs Black Star season, Film4 presents a celebration of black filmmaking talent both in front of and behind the camera.

  • Film4

    12 Years A Slave on Film4

    Film4's Black Cinema Season begins with Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register