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V-147 Mike Mentzer and Friends 60 mins

V-147DVD  Mike Menter and Friends.  

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60 minutes in length
Produced in 1997
Executive Producer: Wayne Gallasch
Editor: Sean W. Gallasch
Silent soundtrack with music added.

There were giants in the earth in those days, and Wayne Gallasch shows us some of them in these eight unreleased selections from his vaults.  The last two are brief; the rest is an extended eyeful.  A couple segments have faded color, but most of it's fine.  Because of lost records, it was impossible to reconstruct the date and photographer of all sessions.  I'll tell you what is known.  By the way, the title is not literal: Mentzer and Schwarzenegger are not friends, and some of these guys never met.

 First he wears a blue tank top and black gym pants.  He does barbell curls, preacher curls, concentration curls with light dumbbells, behind-head barbell presses (without shirt), standing dumbbell flys, standing barbell press, and lat and shoulder work on Nautilus machines.  Mentzer defined the 70s BB, setting the style in the period's mags.  His thick torso and brush moustache (which he chews on as he poses into a mirror) create one of the most distinctive looks a BB ever had.

In the second part of the Mentzer footage, he's dressed in khaki pants with a belt.  He oils his torso carefully, giving each part close attention, flexing as he goes.  Mentzer is adept at showing off body parts from every angle; he twists his heavy forearms at length to reveal them.  Each body part seems to have a life of its own when he turns his attention to it.  Alternating a crusher grip with a chest expander, Mentzer continues to mix workouts with posing.  Doing his most muscular, he leans into the camera to give it the best view of him.  The last part has him in white posing trunks, oiling quads and calves, working it into each spot in a practiced, methodical fashion.  He never looks self-conscious, and is always "on."

Frank Zane gives a classic posing performance in the next section, filmed in August 1975 by Robert Nailon at Coogee Beach, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, when Zane guest posed at the Mr. South Pacific contest.  The only time Zane had a beard, it's my favourite look on him.  The reddish tint to the film, and vacant planes of the beach, prompted a friend of mine to call this "Frank Zane on Mars."  Zane's shaggy, wind-blown hair makes him look a bit wild.  Shown here a couple years before he thickened up to win the Mr. Olympia three times running (1977 to 1979), Zane has marvellous lines, wide shoulders and a narrow waist, shown off with several poses he pioneered and trademarked. 

He does a number of lunge-twist poses with knees bent, arms over his head in oval gestures, fingers extended like claws, or with one arm vectored up at an angle with the other cocked back.  The famous "vacuum pose" has his arms pulled up behind his head, his triceps next to his ears, abs sunk below his ribcage, quads pushed forward.  Not only are these poses striking, but Zane has perfected the transitions between them, shifting from one to another with an economy of movement that baffles in its simplicity.  The camera takes in his full body, but also goes in for close-ups to reveal a sculptured chest and triceps.  This physique is balanced in the classical Greek sense.

The Zane material, which runs 11 minutes, shifts indoors 21:00 in.  Now we get a dark background, with the light only on Zane's torso.  The sepia colouring is a bit spooky.  Zane continues his trademark poses, but he seems thicker and fuller here -- perhaps he got in a workout after the beach session.  Zane's lines compare well to those of Steve Reeves.  Posing develops its own metaphysics when done with the precision and intelligence of a Frank Zane.

Guy-Claude Pepin, a now little-known BB from Guadeloupe, French West Indies, is in the next segment, which lasts seven minutes.  This was filmed in London by Gallasch in 1975, at a time when Pepin was living in Paris.  Pepin later placed eighth in the 1979 World Championships heavyweight class (which Wilcosz took); that was his last big show.  The film starts in a studio with a leopard print rug pulled over a chair, and against a brown wall that matches Pepin's skin color. 

In red posing trunks, he offers several arm poses, the bicep or tricep alternately highlighted.  He wears jewellery and has a small Afro.  The smile he flashes is attractive.  He has good, tight lines and displays his physique effectively with poses he confirms with the photographer before doing.  Midway in, he switches to black leather trunks, using a chest expander to do curls from the floor.  Finally in white trunks, with heavy shadows on the wall behind him echoing his movements, he does lunging poses, then spreads his arms batwing style, holding them half raised on his torso.  He's enjoying his brief time on camera here, and is well worth seeing.

Active in major contests from the early 60s to the early 80s, Serge Nubret was at his peak in the next six-minute sequence.  It was filmed in Australia, likely in the mid-70s.  The film is faded, monochromatic except for the red posing trunks.  The heavy shadows on Nubret's chest and legs do not obscure a startling body on display.  Nubret has heavy pecs and huge shoulders and arms; he combines the best of both size and shape. With an impassive expression, he bends his narrow waist inwards to reveal its lines, and he favours the side triceps to show off his upper arms.  Unhurried in his movements, he hits the desired position and then flexes dramatically.  The camera's close-ups help make the image as distinct as possible under the circumstances.  Among the best posers of his time, Nubret deserved his fame.

Ernie Santiago, whom Gallasch filmed several times, now is shown for 11 minutes in a California studio session.  Against a yellow background, Santiago oils his arms while wearing boxing trunks.  He has a tight chest and wall-like abs.  Using a large crusher grip, he holds it in front of his chest, then over his head to get a pump going.  He looks focused, without expression except for one brief smile no doubt induced by the cameraman.  His large bicep tattoo is prominent as always.  Turning away from us, he continues using the crusher to show off his back, then shifts to alternating dumbbell presses.  When he poses his arms, he holds them out on both sides (viewed from the back) and rolls them back and forth.  For a double biceps, he adds twisting movements to deepen its impact.  Not an ostentatious poser, Santiago seems a bit veiled as he goes through his shots, as if to say this is not all he's got, but it's all he's giving you. 

Rod Koontz, one of the best-known 70s BBs, follows with a seven-minute studio segment.  It starts with towel pulling with a smaller guy who then holds his wrists as Koontz pumps against him.  Then Koontz is alone with a crusher grip held at various angles, and then with a pair of dumbbells.  "THEE ANIMAL" is his famous upper-arm tattoo, a relic of pre-BB days.  Koontz has a long torso with heavy shoulders and a moustache.  He poses rather quickly with several lunging, twisting movements. 

His waist is remarkably narrow for his size.  He tends to look somewhat blank until he hits a pose, then flashes a smile that fades as he moves to the next one.  We get a strong display of arms as he leans over and pumps them for us.  He has a rapt expression when not smiling.  The lat spread from the back is impressive; abs are well displayed by side twists.  The last part shifts to his legs, which are solid but perhaps overwhelmed by a huge torso.  His neck is thicker than most BBs of his time.

Two short sequences end this tape with high impact.  The first is two minutes of the 1969 Mr. Olympia, the last contest Schwarzenegger entered that he didn't win.  He took second to Sergio Oliva here.  The film is dark, its flickering images like something out of 1920s films, but we can see Franco Columbu standing next to the top two for the awards.  Arnold is massive and looks happy to have placed so high.  This is rare footage of an event that's up there with the moon landing in the BB world.

Under the credits we get two minutes of Mike Mentzer guest posing in Adelaide, Australia, at the Australian Bodybuilding Championships in April 1980.  He's at his all-time best, putting it together for the crowd with a most-muscular pose like no one else's.  The flashbulbs light up a brick background that flashes and vanishes as he waves to fans and keeps going.  A classic moment with a classic BB.

Mike Emery
February 2001

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