Netflix B-sides is a twice monthly column that takes a look at the lesser known entries of Netflix’s vast catalogue. We will dive deep in to the cavernous universe of B-movies to find the best of the worst, the worst of the best, and those movies that celebrities would rather you forget.
Decades before Arnold Schwarzenegger was running the world’s eighth largest economy, years before he was an international superstar, and just months after his first Mr. Universe win he was merely a Greek god lost on the streets of Manhattan. Hercules in New York is a little known movie that stars Arnold Schwarzenegger twelve long years before the cultural phenomenon that was Conan the Barbarian. In this on-screen debut Arnold is still so unknown that the producers felt that he needed to be credited as “Arnold Strongman ‘Mr. Universe’” since they believed using his last name would not capitalize enough on his most recent Mr. Universe win (1970). This baby-faced 21-year-old Austrian was so new to acting and the English language itself that every one of his lines had to be redubbed, and in nearly every scene it ends hilariously. Entire scenes are so shockingly poorly dubbed and acted that it becomes almost endearing watching Arnold stumble through his acting debut in iconic New York locales. You can clearly see the youthful exuberance and naiveté in his face.
Like the Arnold that we know today, he is strangely endearing and in some (admittedly rare) scenes he is truly earnest and captivating. He does work well with his ‘half pint’ co-star Pretzie who looks like Woody Allen after a 72-hour bender on Gin and Cocaine. Pretzie’s seemingly only role is to provide reaction shots as Hercules displays varying feats of strength, from flipping cabs to throwing twelve men at once in to the East River.
Some of this movie’s most astonishingly bad moments revolve around how everyone in New York picks a fight with the massive Hercules. Even if you do not know that he is a Greek Demigod, why in the hell would you bet someone who looks like Arnold that you could throw a discus further than him, let alone pick a fight with a man that has more muscle mass than the entire cast of Jersey Shore? This movie is lackluster at best, but I have to admit that I lost it entirely when Sampson and Atlas (fellow Mr. Universe contestants) were sent down from Mount Olympus to back Hercules up as he fought 30+ mobsters in a paper warehouse. Fear not, the scene did end in an amazing flexing and posing montage.
One final thought: do not make a drinking game out of this movie built around taking a drink every time Hercules unnecessarily takes off his shirt, because if you do you will wake up 3 states over in the drunk tank with a traffic cone on your head. I am convinced that it was in Arnold’s contract that he had to be shirtless at least 65% of his on-screen time. Be sure the catch Hercules in New York on Netflix; if nothing else it will give you confidence to try something way out of your skill set, like Arnold did with acting.