Hercules in New York Review
Hercules in New York is the very first movie that Arnold Schwarzenegger ever made, although in this movie he’s listed as Arnold Strong because Americans would never accept the name Schwarzenegger. Hercules is a demi-god that lives on Mt Olympus with all of the other gods. It should be noted that Mt Olympus in Greek mythology is described as a paradise above the clouds filled with palaces.
I love how this movie had zero budget because not only do the costumes and setting fail to evoke a sense of wonder and awe but you can clearly hear car horns constantly in the background. This movie just makes me smile.
Hercules is bored with living on Mt. Olympus and wishes to go to Earth (or 2 blocks away from “Mt. Olympus”) but Zeus is not having any of it. He and Hercules argue back and forth and Zeus refuses to let him go…right up until he throws a lightning bolt at Herc and sends him to Earth. It is flipping abrupt. It should also be noted that Zeus’ lightning bolts are bent pieces of rebar which is freaking adorable when you think about it.
“If I had known how much trouble he would cause me, I would have thought twice when I met his mother on my vacation.” – Zeus. Zeus is basically the world’s first dead beat dad.
Hercules finds himself on a boat and the captain is pretty much holding him hostage. When Hercules tries to leave the ship once it docks in New York, the captain offers $20 to a bunch of dockworkers if they’ll beat the shit out of Hercules. The fight is pretty freaking epic.
Stop it, Hercules! You’re killing them!
Hercules is “saved” by a kindly old Jewish pretzel vendor named Pretzie (Arnold Stang). I’m not even joking about that either. Have I mentioned that I love this movie? They run away and take a cab to Central Park but neither of them has any money so the cab driver decides to try to beat the shit out of Hercules. I get that the joke here is that the cabbie doesn’t know that Hercules is an immortal demi-god and will therefore get his ass kicked if he tries to fight him. The problem is that even if Hercules was just some random dude, he’s still fucking jacked as shit as you still shouldn’t be picking a fight with him.
You got off light. What did you think was gonna happen, dummy?
Hercules and Pretzie stumble upon a collegiate track and field practice and Herc decides to show them how it’s done. Hercules schools them all when it comes to throwing the discus and the javelin but Herc doesn’t anticipate them having an ace up their sleeve when it comes to the long jump.
Professor Camden and his daughter Helen are watching the practice and they invite Hercules and Pretzie to their house for tea. Why? I don’t know. Camden wants to study Hercules because he did so well at track and field events or something. Hercules spends the entire time trying to hit on Helen in a very Arnold Schwarzenegger like way and breaks her boyfriend’s ribs.
Hercules basically demonstrates psychotic behavior that would never get you invited back to any dinner party. Which is why it’s so weird when Helen agrees to go on a date with him. Does Stockholm Syndrome kick in after 10 minutes of a dinner party? Not only that but Helen’s dad actually encourages her to spend time alone with this maniac.
What the hell is wrong with you people?!
Hercules takes Helen on a horse drawn carriage ride through the city and everything is going surprisingly well until Hercules gets into a fist fight with an escaped bear…it is glorious. If you don’t want to sit through this entire movie then I suggest you at least watch this scene a few dozen times. Try to not smile while watching a bear throw a mean left hook and work the body like a boxer.
The lighthearted frenetic mandolin music really encapsulates the emotional weight of this scene. And I love how the scene ends with the frightened zoo animal sprawled lifeless on the ground. I didn’t know that that was missing from my life but I am so glad that I found it.
Hercules then decides to become a wrestler now that he has the blood lust. After an honest to goodness 5 second montage, Hercules is now a wrestling champion and the mob takes control of Hercules contract. I feel like this is a plot from a planned sequel that they just decided to kind of smush into this movie.
Back on Mt. Olympus there is some power struggle amongst the gods and Zeus’ wife Juno has Nemesis make Hercules mortal so that Pluto can do…something to him. Honestly, the car horns really make it hard to focus on these scenes.
Hercules loses his powers right as he’s about to have a weight lifting competition with Monstro the Magnificent…and his boss is coming over for dinner in 20 minutes and his wife burned the roast. Oh, brother!
Hercules loses the competition and the mob chases after him because they bet thousands of dollars on Herc’s ability to hoist weight mightily over his head. The chase scene is sped up with that freaking mandolin playing and it almost seems like an episode of Benny Hill.
This is probably the least stupid scene in this movie.
Hercules speaks to Pretzie through the radio. At least it’s a person with a British accent that Pretzie tells us is Hercules. I love that this was the voice that originally dubbed over all of Arnold’s lines but after Schwarzenegger started to become famous, they switched it back to use Arnie’s original voice. But since Arnold never did the voice over for the radio transmission (why would they need him to?) then they just kept this random British person’s voice on the radio. It seems like an odd thing to leave in for a movie that is keen on the details
“We’re not filming this scene a second time. No one will even notice it.” – Director