Pumping Iron II – The Women

This enjoyable, slickly conceived documentary on the subculture of women's bodybuilding could have been better had director George Butler tempered his penchant for camera's eye detachment with some analytical and repertorial sweat.

With:
Lori Bowen Carla Dunlap Bev Francis Rachel McLish Kris Alexander Lydia Cheng

This enjoyable, slickly conceived documentary on the subculture of women’s bodybuilding could have been better had director George Butler tempered his penchant for camera’s eye detachment with some analytical and repertorial sweat.

Although he succeeds fairly well in exploiting the inherent drama of the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship for women bodybuilders, Butler is too content to let the alluring amazons speak for themselves on the film’s central question: what is femininity and how far many women go in liberating themselves from stereotypes before confronting immovable cultural resistance?

The question is embodied graphically by Australian power-lifter Bev Francis, whose awesome, spectacularly mannish physique will be matched in a great flex-off against the wiry, compelling developed bodies of the best ‘feminine’ bodybuilders. These include smug, shrewd defending champ Rachel McLish; the appealingly articulate Carla Dunlap, who’s the only black woman in the group; and Lori Bowen, a humble girl from Texas who idolizes the aloof McLish and plans to use her prize money to free her boyfriend from his male go-go dancer’s gig.

Pumping Iron II - The Women

Production: Pumping Iron/White Mountain. Director George Butler; Producer George Butler; Screenplay Charles Gaines, George Butler; Camera Dyanna Taylor, Craig Perry; Editor Paul Barnes, Susan Crutcher, Jane Kurson; Music David McHugh, Michael Montes

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1985. Running time: 107 MIN.

With: Lori Bowen Carla Dunlap Bev Francis Rachel McLish Kris Alexander Lydia Cheng

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