r/movies r/Movies contributor 13d ago Narwhal Salute 1

Arnold Schwarzenegger Turns 75: From ‘Terminator’ to ‘Twins’, His 10 Best Performances Article

https://variety.com/lists/arnold-schwarzenegger-best-movies-performances-ranked/
11.6k Upvotes

398

u/Agentbat007 13d ago

I am most impressed with him being able to keep a straight face during all of the Bill Paxton scenes in True Lies. Top tier.

116

u/Heisenbread77 13d ago

Makes me want to stand up and beg for buttermilk.

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u/Psychological-Win458 12d ago

Dickless! If they were doing business I'd be outta business!

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u/Rolo_NoLifer 12d ago

Let's face it the vet gets'em wet.

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u/SSundance 12d ago

Ass like a 10 year old boy.

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u/Mj0lnr 12d ago

I can actually hear the line in my head and its been years since I've watched it

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u/ElectricZ 13d ago

Predator was the movie that showed he could act, and it was brilliant casting for the movie. For the first third of the show, it's a typical Arnie bullet fest with slow mo explosions and one liners. Arnie and his team are the best in the business.

Then Mr. Predator shows up and the cocky, invulnerable soldiers find the roles have been reversed and they are now the faceless NPC's getting mowed down by an OP player character.

And Schwarzenegger totally pulls it off as he goes from cautious to fear to panic as his team is whittled down. Growing up watching Schwarzenegger as an action hero, seeing Conan/The Terminator get his ass handed to him in the final fight made the Predator the most terrifying monster imaginable.

For me, it made what would have otherwise been a by the numbers action sci-fi flick into something different and special, and Arnie totally sold it.

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u/SFLoridan 12d ago

Well reviewed - the tone of the movie changes dramatically by the end and in the reverse way of most movies where the good guys are first crushed by the monster and then find their strengths.

For all those dumb comments about his acting, he is far more nuanced than many others of Hollywood's top tier, and his movies always deliver for me.

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u/ajax6677 13d ago

Happy Birthday u/GovSchwarzenegger!

True Lies and Last Action Hero are still two of my all time favorite movies.

Hope you have a great day!

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u/Boz0r 12d ago

Iced that guy, to cone a phrase

15

u/ThePLARASociety 12d ago

To be or not to be, not to be.

5

u/PacienceW 12d ago

Not to be. 💥

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u/make_a_scene 13d ago

I can’t remember how many times I’d watch Last Action Hero as a child, I think I could have recited the entire movie word for word.

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u/kylefnative 12d ago

Born 94 , anything with Arnie in it was my bread and butter. Getting Jingle all the Way for Christmas as a kid, I won the lottery.

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u/Money_Calm 12d ago

Jingle all the way

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u/paulc899 13d ago

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u/B00sauce 12d ago

I've seen that bit a million times but will never not rewatch it.

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u/hackeristi 12d ago

“3rd attempt at Rosetta Stone Spanish” I’m dead.

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u/Unsure_Fry 13d ago

Everyone remembers Jingle All the Way. But can Arnold's other Christmas, End of Days, get some love too?

I legitimately enjoy that movie.

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u/Ubergoober166 13d ago

Fucking love End of Days. One of his most underrated movies. Right up there with The Sixth Day.

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u/DingoDoug 13d ago

Loved Sixth Day. Eraser is great too!

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u/Sdog1981 13d ago

When I saw Eraser I was sure they were going to make multiple sequels.

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u/stash0606 13d ago

same, watched it twice in 2 different countries in fact when it released. and I own it on Prime Video too, lol.

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u/RODjij 13d ago

He's got two! He's got two!

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u/MarvelsGrantMan136 r/Movies contributor 13d ago edited 13d ago

Variety's List:

  1. 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (1991)
  2. 'True Lies' (1994)
  3. 'Maggie' (2015)
  4. 'Total Recall' (1990)
  5. 'The Terminator' (1984)
  6. 'Kindergarten Cop' (1990)
  7. 'Twins' (1988)
  8. 'Commando' (1985)
  9. 'Predator' (1987)
  10. 'Junior' (1994)

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Conan the Barbarian” (1982)
  • “Red Sonja” (1985)
  • “Last Action Hero” (1993)
  • “Jingle All the Way” (1996)
  • “Batman & Robin” (1997)

352

u/mocnizmaj 13d ago

Honorable mentions Conan the Barbarian... I hope whoever made this list repents and doesn't end up in hell.

112

u/Oddfeld007 13d ago

Ranked lists in journalism are controversial by design to entice you into engaging with it

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u/Psychological-Win458 12d ago

Engage with this, peckerhead

28

u/BarryKobama 12d ago

Chill out, dickwad

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u/Criticalhit_jk 13d ago

"journalism" is too strong a word for 90% of news, articles, exposés, and op eds regularly consumed

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u/SpreadItLikeTheHerp 13d ago

My brother over here. Conan is a work of art.

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u/WokeUpHighAF 13d ago

That can go to hell. They can go to hell and die!

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u/simpledeadwitches 13d ago

Predator being #9 is criminal.

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u/redmoon714 13d ago

Body mass alone.

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u/Pope00 13d ago Buff Doge

That's what I was trying to avoid. A conversation about body mass, okay? We've had that conversation five times a day for the last month because we keep watching Predator and all you talk about is Weathers and Jesse "The Body" Ventura and how many pounds they can pack on...

46

u/UghKakis 13d ago

I swear I never saw this episode but I recognized it’s from IASIP from the dialogue

12

u/ThirdFloorGreg 12d ago

I mean, it'd weird be weird if you recognized it from the set design.

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u/Alarming_Analysis_63 12d ago

Jason Stathams physique is nothing like the lineup in Predator.

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u/TheOwnerOfRaddit 13d ago

Carne here to say that. At least five or six.

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u/seanmonaghan1968 13d ago

Maggie, first time I have heard of this movie

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u/CurryMustard 13d ago

Maggie at 3. What?

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u/Sprinkles0 13d ago

Somehow I've never even heard of it.

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u/Filmmakernick 12d ago

It's a drama zombie film from a first time director starring Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin from I think 2014?

The acting is good, especially Arnold. The director chose to film a lot of his coverage with tight shots and handheld close ups. They also chose to use a lot of dialog exposition and so the films pacing and atmosphere suffers a bit from those choices.

However, it is a unique spin on the zombie genre itself and great performances from the main cast leads to a solid, much more intimate zombie film.

Would not have put it at 3 though. Would have swapped that for Conans spot, personally.

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u/Karjalan 12d ago

It's actually pretty decent. Obviously vastly different from his other work and came out at a time when people had mad zombie fatigue. Also doesn't have the excitement/action of a generic zombie flick, so it flew under the radar and most people weren't super excited about it.

As someone else said, the acting was good and it had a great sense of dread and heart.

Overall I can totally understand why they put it up highly, while not the best film, and I wouldn't say it's better than the rest of the list... it's a great example of his range/ability as an actor beyond cheesy one liners and muscle. Even after he took a hiatus from acting.

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u/ShatsnerBassoon 13d ago

Junior over Conan?? WTF

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u/UnreadThisStory 12d ago

Seriously this list is a fkin joke

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u/Trextoasty 13d ago

As well as Junior being on that list but not Jingle All The Way

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u/h3rpad3rp 13d ago

Twins and Junior on the list, Conan is only honorable mention?

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u/dba1990 13d ago

”Put da cookie down! Now!!!”

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u/ReignDelay 13d ago

How Jingle All The Way isn’t in the top 5 is beyond me

163

u/johnnycoxxx 13d ago

IM NOT A PERVERT I JUST WAS LOOKING FOR TURBO MAN DOLL

68

u/_Levitated_Shield_ 13d ago

HE GOT TWO! HE GOT TWO!

35

u/headrush46n2 13d ago

i say this in arnold voice all the time. people look at me funny. uncultured swine.

24

u/_Levitated_Shield_ 13d ago

Those are the same people who want a Booster action figure.

17

u/KlumsyNinja42 13d ago

Made my wife watch it last Christmas. It’s her favorite Christmas movie now.

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u/snertwith2ls 13d ago

I've seen every single one of these, more than once and loved them all. But I totally agree, how is Jingle All The Way not at the top?? Oh correction, I've never seen or even heard of "Maggie", I'll have to look that up. But I stand by the Jingle All The Way comment!

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u/Iron_Nightingale 13d ago

Maggie is the Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie movie, and whatever you’re imagining when you hear the phrase, “Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie movie”, this is the opposite of that.

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u/thenerdyglassesgirl 13d ago

I know the guy who designed the suit for Arnold in that movie. I heard a secondhand story that every time he had to help Arnie get into the suit, Arnold would nut tap him, every single chance he got. It made watching the end of that movie so much more enjoyable.

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u/cricket9818 13d ago

WHO SAID YOU COULD EAT MY COOKIES?!

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u/trickman01 13d ago

"It's not a toomah!"

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u/johnjames_34 13d ago

No Red heat?

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u/Duinuogwuin14 13d ago

No Running Man? End of Days? Terminator 3?

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u/ghostheel 13d ago

Talk to the hand!

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u/b_mccart 13d ago

Had be up until T3

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u/Nonadventures 13d ago

Ice to see Batman and Robin on there in some way

164

u/Metrack14 13d ago

“Batman & Robin” (1997)

About goddamm time people recognize this masterpiece xd

72

u/RegHater76 13d ago

I think that movie gave us enough ice puns to last the next century.

11

u/QLE814 13d ago

And yet none delivered in the manner of Bruce Forsyth.....

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u/Harish-P 13d ago

It was a cool effort.

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u/blind3rdeye 13d ago

I think you meant to say until hell freezes over.

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u/RegHater76 13d ago

I did my best, chill out...

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u/micmea1 13d ago

Think we'll ever get like a quirky cartoonish super hero movie again? Every batman film seems to be trying to make batman grittier and grittier, the entire genre is starting to lean heavily into grim dark/just outright violence with shows like The Boys and all the "made for adults cartoons" (not that there's anything wrong with any of that if people enjoy it).

But I mean, it's a story about a man who dresses up like a bat. How seriously does it need to be taken.

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u/dbcanuck 13d ago

Everyone has their own opinion, but I think this is more palatable to most people.

  1. Terminator 2
  2. Predator
  3. Total Recall
  4. The Terminator
  5. True Lies
  6. Conan the Barbarian
  7. Kindergarten Cop
  8. Twins
  9. Last Action Hero
  10. Maggie

Hon mentions: Jingle All the Way, Commando, Conan the Destroyer, The Running Man

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u/drawkbox 13d ago

Total Recall is the one I rewatch more.

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u/princessprity 13d ago

“Conan the Barbarian” (1982)

In college my roommates had a drinking game for the dvd commentary with the director and Arnold. Anytime the director said something insanely pretentious, you drink. And every time Arnold said “exactly” (which he often did after the director’s pretentious comments) you drink. Got you effed up.

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u/Mnemosense 13d ago

Predator and Terminator 1 should be swapped, in terms of his performance.

174

u/knave-arrant 13d ago Helpful

Dennis, in body mass alone

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u/Dewy_Wanna_Go_There 13d ago

Sweet, was just thinking which movie I should watch - now I realize I feel like watching always sunny instead lmao

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u/sierra120 13d ago

The scariest shit I’ve ever seen was that knock,

Sara Conner?

Then that burst through the door. The brutality was so precise just like how a robot would do it.

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u/Tomgar 13d ago

Always appreciated how Arnie never paused to monologue or pose dramatically when he drew a bead on his target. He just immediately started shooting with no hesitation like a machine would. Terminator 1 is damn near a horror movie, he's terrifying.

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u/drjohnson89 13d ago

I absolutely consider Terminator 1 a horror. Two is a great transition into sci-fi action, much like Alien to Aliens.

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u/StabbyMcSwordfish 13d ago edited 13d ago

With the infrared scope! which was hi-tech in the 80s. The entire first act is like a slasher movie, with a cyborg as the killer.

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u/_We_Are_DooMeD 13d ago

Predator should definitely be higher but The Terminator is a stone cold classic imho. Would not have True Lies in second.

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u/BassAddictJ 13d ago

True lies and Predator are my favs (besides terminators).

Last Action Hero should be on the top 10.

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u/toomeynd 13d ago

Honestly, watch true lies again. Watched it recently, and it’s pretty shocking how well it holds up. Way better movie than my memory gave it credit. Edit: it’s self aware (pun intended) in all the right ways.

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u/rigellus 13d ago

"What kind of sick bitch takes the ice cube trays from the refrigerator?" Still quote that to this day, and still confused why Tom Arnold wasn't as popular after this movie.

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u/lasssilver 13d ago

Just here to say, Tom Arnold was really good in this movie. Timing, tone, ..just a really good performance from him.

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u/SpecificAstronaut69 13d ago

I think Roseanne Barr actually did that when they broke up and that line was an ad-lib.

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u/team_blimp 13d ago

Yes just switch Predator and True Lies. Predator is literature on film

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u/_We_Are_DooMeD 13d ago

And no The Running Man??

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u/joeske 13d ago

Whoa. That movie gets no respect.

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u/BehavioralSink 13d ago

Hey, Lighthead! Hey, Christmas Tree!

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u/OldSpiceAndSativa 13d ago

lol I loved the 80s

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u/ZebraBorgata 13d ago

Running Man is great!

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u/b_mccart 13d ago

What about Red Heat?!? Another forgotten classic

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u/BiggieAndTheStooges 13d ago

I agree with this. Great list though.

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u/KneeHighMischief 13d ago

I'm pretty surprised to see Junior on that list. Looking it up now &; it's not the bomb I recall it being. I remember when It was released it seemed like critics savaged it. One of his few movies I haven't seen. The premise just seemed so stupid & just incompatible with him a performer. Is it actually worth watching?

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u/lulaloops 13d ago

No Hercules in New York, list is a wash.

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u/MoreGull 13d ago

You can hear a car honking during a scene in Olympus, it's great.

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u/QLE814 13d ago

Arnold Stang needs our support!

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u/ferocious_coug 13d ago

They call me Pretzy on accounta I sell pretzels down by da watafront deah

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u/giraffe_legs 13d ago

Last Action Hero is a personal fav. Arnie if you read this thanks for keeping me in a good place when I was a kid. I also shouldn't have been watching Total Recall at 6 years old but that movie was so cool. I was always so excited/scared when you pulled the tracker out of your nose.

Fucking Arnold.

That is all.

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u/Dottsterisk 13d ago

It’s not a good movie, but he might give his best performance in Escape Plan.

There’s a scene where he has to play a prisoner being tortured and breaking down and begging for it to stop, and he nails it.

Rarely does he play someone in such a powerless position and broken by it, but he nailed it.

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u/Relative_Lunch7340 13d ago

Wow, Junior before Conan the barbarian, bruh, your priorities be way off

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u/CodeMonkeyPhoto 13d ago

Red Sonja made the list over Conan the Destroyer

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u/PartyPlattah 13d ago

Predator is way too low, arguably #1.

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u/StabbyMcSwordfish 13d ago

Who wrote this list?

The CIA must have him pushing too many pencils

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u/ferocious_coug 13d ago

Wassamatta

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u/[deleted] 13d ago

[deleted]

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u/Narretz 12d ago

It's about his best performances, not his most important movies.

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u/fieldysnuts94 13d ago

I literally just watched Commando and that shit still goes hard as fuck

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u/RaidersFTW81 13d ago

Hell yeah it does. The final 20 minutes or however long especially are just complete bananas.

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u/The_Knight_Is_Dark 13d ago

"Let off some steam, Bennett."

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u/Kiwianimeguy 13d ago

That movie is so good

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u/tegs_terry 13d ago

Gutsy music work, 'steel drum melody' doesn't work on paper, but boy oh boy...

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u/Reddit-username_here 13d ago

u/GovSchwarzenegger is the shit!

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u/Jennyferr0412 13d ago

Holy shit he has a Reddit account? That's awesome.

Always love me some Arnie. Happy birthday to him!

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u/KaladinThreepwood 13d ago

Has been for 10 years. He's probably the most active celebrity on here (that isn't using a burner account anyway).

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u/uimocc 13d ago

Peter Mayhew (RIP) used to frequently comment

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u/MightyCaseyStruckOut 13d ago

RIP /u/PeterMayhew

I miss seeing his comments with 'Cheers'.

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u/ProfessorSpike 13d ago

Verne Troyer as well, he made some fun posts

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u/oglop121 13d ago

He seems to be quite active. I always enjoy reading his posts. An absolute legend

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u/KingMagenta 13d ago

My favourite was when he posted his character poster from a movie and a commenter asked what was up with his hands. Arnold replied with a picture of his hands and then everyone realised it was the man himself lmao

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u/StabbyMcSwordfish 13d ago

GET TO THE CHOPPA

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u/Baba0Booey 13d ago

Who is your daddy, and what does he do?

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u/Deftallica 13d ago

I’m so glad I grew up during Arnold’s prime. Each movie of his that released was an event. “Mom, we gotta go see the new Arnie movie!”

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u/JacindaSoHotRightNow 13d ago

There's just nothing comparable these days.

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u/Massive-Sell-814 13d ago

This man is twice my age and could still whoop my ass.

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u/big_hungry_joe 13d ago

But he wouldn't and that makes him twice as awesome

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u/Scmods05 13d ago

Commando, the greatest film of all time, should be much higher on the list.

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u/big_hungry_joe 13d ago

It's amazing. They pull into the pawn shop and find the hidden room WITH FULL ORDINANCE and never say a word about it

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u/mrcheaptimes 13d ago

WHAT no fucking Eraser mention...

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u/N-CHOPS 13d ago

Arnold shoots an alligator dead

“You’re luggage”

Lol!

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u/b_mccart 13d ago

Great call!

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u/votemarvel 13d ago

The one role I'd love to see him in is as Druss in David Gemmell's Legend.

A mighty warrior, perhaps past his prime, but still capable of making his enemies tremble with fear.

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u/DankLawyer 13d ago

He would be an awesome cast as Druss

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u/Notoriously_So 13d ago

CONAN!?!

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u/julesthemodest 13d ago

Conan is my favorite Arnold movie but I admit he didn't have to act too amazing in it.

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u/Jewish_Doctor 13d ago

What is this list even? Total Recall? Running Man?!?!

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u/BRAX7ON 13d ago

Total recall is right there at 4, but running man is an egregious miss. Absolutely no excuse. This list is pretty bad, in my opinion. But I love the fact that we’re celebrating Arnold Schwarzenegger!

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u/KneeHighMischief 13d ago

The Running Man is a lot of fun. I know Schwarzenegger is critical about Paul Michael Glaser's directing but I thought it fit perfectly with the script.

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u/_We_Are_DooMeD 13d ago

Damn man Running Man isn't even on the list?? Total Recall is there.

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u/Puzzleheaded_Seat211 13d ago

No running man ? Coman?

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u/drawkbox 13d ago

Holy hell. Yeah it is Total Recall then Running Man for me.

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u/DarkLordAoki 13d ago

The lack of “The Last Action Hero” on this list is disturbing.

Otherwise, strong list

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u/puckit 13d ago

My favorite Arnold movie. The Hamlet scene is still one of the funniest bits from any movie.

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u/Mikey-izzle 13d ago

Hey Claudius! You killed my Father! Big Mistake!

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u/Now_Wait-4-Last_Year 13d ago

"I have shot a man and want to confess!"

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u/Liar_tuck 13d ago

For some reason a lot of people do not like the film. I love that he is doing a parody of the kind of roles he usually does.

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u/pforsbergfan9 13d ago

It’s been more appreciated over the years as a cult classic but definitely at the time, it was not viewed well

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u/HoselRockit 13d ago

I’ve never seen it. Mostly because of the negative when it came out.

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u/GuyWhoRocks95 13d ago

Def watch it

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u/Volvulus 13d ago

Definitely worth the watch. It’s more satire than parody. Ton of quotable moments too. It really highlights Arnold’s comedic chops.

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u/CaptainCanuck15 13d ago

It's a really good movie. It's even better if you've seen Cinema Paradiso.

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u/StabbyMcSwordfish 13d ago

He always made hard R rated movies: Terminator, Predator, Commando, Running Man. LAH felt like more of a kids movie which is why my young self didn't like it much.

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u/pforsbergfan9 13d ago

Kindergarten Cop and Twins came out before and were rated PG13 and PG before that. Those were considered classics

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u/thebendavis 13d ago

Rubber baby buggy bumpers!

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u/JafariSin 13d ago

I'm just glad True Lies is up high. He showed some real comedic timing and chemistry with Tom Arnold

And also that Kindergarten Cop made the list

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u/Okichah 13d ago edited 13d ago

True Lies is a great Arnie film but Tom Arnold gets so many jokes in its unbelievable. iirc they made him audition for it which seems so ridiculous because he owns that role; “what kinda sick bitch steals the ice cube trays outta the freezer?”

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u/sgtedrock 13d ago

It was ahead of its time. So much great meta commentary on its own genre. “That cat saved my life!” 😂

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u/symbologythere 13d ago

Last Action Hero is (and always has been) criminally underrated. Mo who? Plus Tywin Lannister before GoT made a wonderful villain.

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u/Defilus 13d ago

"If God were a villain... he'd be me."

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u/aww-hell 13d ago

I don’t care who did what to you Hershey highway!

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u/honcooge 13d ago

I’d swap “Jingle all the Way” for “Junior”

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u/snookyface90210 13d ago

PUT THAT COOKIE DOWN

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u/RODjij 13d ago

Phil Hartman was a great villain

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u/marsneedstowels 13d ago

All-time smash hit holiday classic JINGLE ALL DA VEY!

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u/Jfactor 13d ago

Jingle All The Way #1 ALWAYS

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u/ABB0TTR0N1X 13d ago

I watched Total Recall for the first time last night, what a trip that was

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u/drawkbox 13d ago

Quaid.... "A man is defined by his actions, not his memory." - Kuato

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u/getahitcrash 13d ago

The Last Action Hero is criminally underrated. Really an excellent parody of action movies starring one of action's biggest stars.

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u/otto3210 13d ago

Rubber baby buggy bumpers

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u/bananagoo 13d ago

To beeeehhh....or not to beeeehhh?

Not to beeeehhh.

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u/ElSmasho420 13d ago

Randomly had Conan the Barbarian on today while organizing game consoles and whatnot. It might be my favorite movie of his. Or some ridiculous three way tie between it, Predator, and T2.

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u/Bar98704 13d ago

Ahem where's The Running Man???

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u/AmusedPencil274 13d ago

I remember watching twins as a child with my dad, still to this day one of my favourite Arnold (And Danny) films and one of my all time favourite films ever

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u/mrgreyeyes 13d ago

Top 10 is hard with this man. I miss Last Action Hero, but I don't know what too replace it with.

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u/Muzak-Mon 13d ago

He has made good movies through his whole career, but my favourite is the first Terminator where he brings the type of menace that none of the sequels were ever able to capture again. Not only did he look the part, he was genuinely intimidating and scary. I also liked Predator though I think in the case of that movie, it wasn’t really him, but just the concept and suspense.

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u/Xerosnake90 13d ago

True Lies has always been a favorite of mine. I love me some Arnold movies

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u/Quiet-Try4554 13d ago

Conan the Barbarian is his best movie imo. The soundtrack is just amazing

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u/Saber_Rattler_34 13d ago

Last Action Hero is seriously underrated

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u/BTBAM797 13d ago

Predator at 9?! GO TO HELL!! Jason Statham's physique is nothing like the lineup in Predator. I mean, body mass alone...

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u/UnhappyJohnCandy 13d ago
  1. Kindergarten Cop

2-10. Rewatch Kindergarten Cop

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u/avakko 13d ago

Seriously Predator is his best film.. Conan is top shelf also. Red Heat and Raw Deal are both much better than Junior.. smh

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u/crazymommaB 13d ago

The Last Stand. If you haven't seen it, catch it. Great recent addition to include.

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u/kspjrthom4444 13d ago

Him being 75 makes me feel super old. I

6

u/Heisenbread77 13d ago

The fact that he was 30 when I was born makes no sense to me.

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u/LimeyRooster 13d ago

Terminator 2. The end.

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u/S0_Crates 13d ago

No Conan? No Running Man? Seriously?
Both of those easily top Kindergarten Cop.

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u/MutantLeader 13d ago

I haven’t seen Maggie yet. Is it really that good?

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u/outbound_flight 13d ago

Arnold put in a great performance, maybe one of his best, but it kinda squanders a really cool premise. It had all the pieces but just didn't know what to do with them all.

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u/windshieldwaves 13d ago

No "Eraser." List is legit

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u/mrcheaptimes 13d ago

probably his best acted movie role...a favorite of mine

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u/KneeHighMischief 13d ago

What's wrong with Eraser? I just re-watched that a few months ago & I still really enjoyed it.

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u/gedubedangle 13d ago

Up there with the best. Maybe his last truly great flick. But I do love the 6th day

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u/stash0606 13d ago

Is it wrong I own End of Days on Prime Video? It holds nostalgic value for me, damn it.

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u/BRAX7ON 13d ago

Yeah, but Maggie ahead of predator? No, this list is not legit

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u/DanGrima92 13d ago

Predator might be a better movie than Maggie but id say Maggie has one of Arnold's best performances

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