Frameline48: Pumping Iron II – The Women

Long before Love Lies Bleeding, there was Pumping Iron II: The Women. This little-seen sequel to the film that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a superstar follows a group of four women as they prepare and compete in the 1983 Caesars World Cup in Las Vegas: butch Australian powerlifter (and now out lesbian) Bev Francis, the more traditionally feminine Rachel McLish, former synchronized swimmer Carla Dunlap, and Texan Lori Bowen, who hopes to win so her bodybuilder boyfriend can quit his job as a male stripper.

Beyond simply being a wildly entertaining documentary, Pumping Iron II: The Women raises fascinating questions about gender, femininity, and society’s expectations of womanhood that feels more relevant now than ever as trans athletes continue to lose their right to compete. Can a woman be TOO muscular? Is the best female bodybuilder the one with the most muscles, or the one that can match brawn with femininity? Come find out in Pumping Iron II: The Women, the rare sequel that greatly surpasses the original.

1h 47m
George Butler
First Showing
June 25, 2024