IMDb > "Playhouse 90" Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956)

"Playhouse 90" Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956)

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Rod Serling (writer)
View company contact information for Requiem for a Heavyweight on IMDbPro.
Original Air Date:
11 October 1956 (Season 1, Episode 2)
An over-the-hill heavyweight boxing champion who suffers from the ravages of years of head trauma is exploited by his manager, despite the efforts of a compassionate young woman who tries to help him recover his self-respect. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
As good as television got in the 1950s. See more (6 total) »


 (Episode Cast) (in credits order)

Jack Palance ... Harlan 'Mountain' McClintock

Keenan Wynn ... Maish Rennick

Kim Hunter ... Grace Carney

Ed Wynn ... Army

Max Baer ... Mike
Maxie Rosenbloom ... Steve (as Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom)
Edgar Stehli ... Doctor

Stanley Adams ... Pirelli
Harry Landers ... Fox
Charles Herbert ... Jeffrey

Ned Glass ... Bartender
Frank Richards ... Fighter in Bar
Lyn Osborn ... Photographer
Joe Abdullah ... Fight Announcer
Ivan Rasputin ... Wrestler
Ted Christy ... Wrestler
Karl 'Killer' Davis ... Wrestler
Young Jack Johnson ... Champ

Episode Crew
Directed by
Ralph Nelson 
Writing credits
Rod Serling (writer)

Produced by
Julian Claman .... associate producer
Martin Manulis .... producer
Other crew
Peter Kortner .... story editor

Series Crew
These people are regular crew members. Were they in this episode?
Directed by
Tony Barr  (as Anthony Barr)
Karl Genus 
John Frankenheimer (episode "If You Know Elizabeth") (episode "Thundering Flame, The") (episode "Town That Turned to Dust, The")
Ralph Nelson (episode "Requiem for a Heavyweight" 1956)
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Robert Alan Aurthur  (episode "A Sound of Different Drumers") (episode "Thundering Flame, The")
Gwen Bagni 
Mel Barr  written by (episode "Blackwell Story The")
George Bellak  (episode "Sound of Eden, The")
Fred Clasel  story (episode "Thundering Flame, The")
Lloyd C. Douglas  story (episode "Blackwell Story The")
Bo Goldman 
Jack Jacobs  (episode "Ain't No Time Glory")
Robert E. McEnroe  (episode "Silver Whistle, The (December 24, 1959)")
Elick Moll  written by (episode "Thundering Flame, The")
Paul Monash  script (episode "Helen Morgan Story The")
Lulu Morgan  story (episode "Helen Morgan Story The")
Tad Mosel  (episode "If You Know Elizabeth")
Don Murray  story (episode "Thundering Flame, The")
Leonard Spigelgass  script (episode "Helen Morgan Story The")
Malvin Wald  (episode "Ain't No Time Glory")

Produced by
Mildred Freed Alberg .... producer
Tony Barr .... associate producer (as Anthony Barr)
Joe Scully .... associate producer
Original Music by
Robert Allen 
John Williams 
Cinematography by
Albert Kurland 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Lindsley Parsons Jr. .... second assistant director
Music Department
Igo Kantor .... music editor
Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

90 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Because Ed Wynn kept flubbing his lines during rehearsal, there was serious concern that he wouldn't be prepared to do a live drama. So Ned Glass, who played a minor role in the show, secretly learned the part of Army and rehearsed privately with Jack Palance and Keenan Wynn. In the end, Ed Wynn went on and delivered a solid performance.See more »


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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
As good as television got in the 1950s., 27 August 2010
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

The 1950s was an amazing time for television. There was a proliferation of live teleplays--movies written for television. Some of these productions were actually better than the material coming out in theaters. And, in the case of "Requiem for a Heavyweight", the normal 50 minutes was stretched to 72--allowing for great depth and character development. Fortunately, Criterion has released a set of three DVDs packed with some of the most memorable teleplays.

"Requiem for a Heavyweight" is a pretty ugly teleplay to see today, as it was filmed using the primitive Kinescope method. So, when you watch it, be patient and look past the fuzziness of the print.

This story helped to make Rod Serling famous. If it hadn't been for the success of this story (and the Emmy he won for writing it), he probably never would have gone on to create "The Twilight Zone". The cast is very capable and is made up of Jack Palance as the aging boxer and the father-son teaming of Ed and Keenan Wynn as his cut man and trainer.

The teleplay begins with Palance being taken to the dressing room following a loss. It's rather shocking to see him, as unlike what you'd normally see on TV, Palance is a man bloody and badly beaten--and the makeup job was incredibly good. The fight doctor examines him and announces that the guy is through--14 years of beatings have taken their toll and his career is over. Sadly, after these miserable years, you've got a punch-drunk guy who has less than $100 to his name and no job prospects. In essence, he's been used and is now ready to be tossed out like an old newspaper--and the show is a strong indictment of this dirty 'sport'. In fact, like the best boxing films, it is strongly anti-boxing in its message--and does so unflinchingly. The film really packs an emotional wallop and it tears your guts out watching Palance--who did an incredible job in the lead. It's probably the best thing he ever did--it was that good.

In addition to Palance, the teleplay features some great supporting actors. Keenan Wynn is great as the manager who is practically heartlesss. Ed Wynn is wonderful as the cut man who has trouble living with the guilt for having produced this washed out boxer. Kim Hunter is very nice as a well-meaning employment counselor who is touched by Palance's predicament. And I loved how they also got some real ex-boxers for color--Max Baer and Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom--both actual ex-champs. Rosenbloom in particular was great, as he really was very punchy in real life--yet despite serious head injuries he had an amazing career in films and as a restaurant owner loved by his patrons for his colorful stories. Here, he tells tales and shows clearly the effects of all the head blows he'd endured.

The overall effect of brilliant writing and acting is probably the best or among the best television had to offer in the 1950s. Despite a few rough aspects (mostly the crappy Kinescope look), it is still an amazing film today because of its unflinching realism. Aside from this, perhaps the only other teleplays that reach this same level of excellent are "Marty" and "Days of Wine and Roses". And, like "Requiem", all three went on to be super-successful movies.

By the way, some other exceptional anti-boxing films that are well worth seeing include: "Champion", "The Harder They Fall" and "The Set-Up". But, of these, I still think "Requiem" is the best...and that's saying a lot. And, I think it's MUCH better than the later movie version starring Anthony Quinn--mostly because the teleplay offers a ray of hope and the movie is just a real downer.

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