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Poster for Pumping Iron II: The Women
Watch trailer for Pumping Iron II: The Women Watch trailer

Pumping Iron II: The Women

Director: George Butler Run Time: 107 min. Format: 35mm Rating: NR Release Year: 1985

Co-hosted by historian and programmer Elizabeth Purchell

Up until the early 1980s, women’s bodybuilding set a standard that musculature had to stay within an undefined limit, expectations being that the body retain a “feminine” shape. Australian competitor Bev Francis arrived on the scene with bulging muscles, causing an upheaval in judging standards. Filmmaker George Butler, some years after the success of Pumping Iron, which introduced a young Arnold Schwarzenegger to the world, was there to capture the 1983 Caesar’s World Cup that found Francis up against Rachel McLish, a more traditional contestant who dominated previous competitions. The result is a fascinating portrait of a culture at a crucial turning point, with a soundtrack very of its decade.