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James Earl Jones,
Mountain Rivera, a punchy has-been managed by the unprincipled Maish, is mauled in a fight and forced to quit boxing. Can his devoted cutman and a sympathetic social worker help him find a life outside the ring, or will Maish find a way to exploit him one more time? Written by
This is a golden oldie if there ever was one. Adapted from Rod Serling's earlier `Playhouse 90' TV drama, it improved greatly on the original by taking full advantage of the film medium, including moody film-noir lighting, an excellent music score, and superb direction. Anthony Quinn is excellent, getting all the pathos out of the role without overdoing it. Mickey Rooney and Jackie Gleason, neither of whom is renowned for subtlety and restraint, hit just the right note in their performances, as does Julie Harris. The ending of this film couldn't be more different than the `Playhouse 90' ending. One of the more bizarre elements of this film, which was not in the original TV play, is the character of Ma Greeney, a really frightening person and the only example I am aware of in film of a lesbian gangster (and in 1962, yet). I can still remember how startled I was to see this character when I first watched this film on TV back in the late 1960s.
The new DVD of `Requiem for a Heavyweight' offers both a full-screen and wide-screen presentation. The quality of the transfer is really outstanding. The liner notes indicate that it is mastered in high definition. While I don't have the hardware to watch it in high-def., I can say that on an ordinary monitor it looks outstanding. Perhaps the sharpest DVD picture I've ever seen. The sound is clear, and the subtitles are very helpful in picking out dialog that may be indistinct, or not easily understood because of Anthony Quinn's manner of delivering the lines while in character.
However. It seems to me that at least one whole scene and a part of another scene is missing. I distinctly remember Maish (Jackie Gleason) telling Ma Greeney what he would do to her if she weren't a lady. In response, she laughs and says `that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.' This is part of the early scene where Maish is attacked in an abandoned boxing ring by Ma's thugs. There is another whole scene I can recall in which Mountain (Anthony Quinn) is practicing holds with a wrestler. He asks that the wrestler stay away from his injured eye, and when he purposely goes for the eye, Mountain punches his lights out. The cuts I recall seeing on TV years ago always included these scenes, and I've never seen this shortened cut of the film before. It's still a great film, but I really miss these two scenes.
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