(In French, On Cable TV, September 2018) Putting the documentary Pumping Iron aside, Hercules in New York is notable for being Arnold Schwarzenegger’s big-screen debut (as “Arnold Strong”). It would take a long time until he struck big with 1982’s Conan the Barbarian, but we can already see Schwarzenegger’s charisma outshining, well, nearly everything else about the film. Conceived as a cheap comedy, Hercules in New York has the hallmark of a modestly budgeted film not trying too hard to tell a coherent story. It has something to do with a Greek titan experiencing New York City, which really means another fish-out-of-water comedy with an unusually strong character. The plot is dumb, the characters are idiots, the production credentials are cheap, the love interest thing gets dropped unceremoniously well before the end, and the jokes are not refined … but there is Schwarzenegger shining through in coarse fashion. The film’s other highlight is a chariot race through Manhattan and Times Square (snapshots of which have been endlessly reprinted in just about every single illustrated biography of the actor), but no matter: The only reason to watch the film today is as an early showcase for Schwarzenegger. He’s far more memorable in Pumping Iron, but at least you get an idea of how they’d shape his persona later on for his extraordinary string of roles in the 1980s.