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The Wrestler (1974)

PG  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  February 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 136 users  
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Promoting the world of professional wrestling at the expense of the plot itself, Frank Bass (Ed Asner) takes a stand and defends what he thinks is right. Gamblers, mobsters, unscrupulous ... See full summary »


(as Jim Westman)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Bass
Elaine Giftos ...
Verne Gagne ...
Mike Bullard
Billy Robinson ...
Jerry Wade ...
Don Muraco ...
Himself (as Don Moraco)
Lord 'Tally Ho' Blears ...
Himself (as Lord James Blears)
Danny Hodge ...
Himself (as Dan Hodge)
Joe Scarpello ...
Dick Afflis ...
Himself (as The Bruiser)
Dan Gable ...
Vincent McMahon ...
Reginald Lisowski ...
The Crusher (as The Crusher)
Dusty Rhodes ...
Ed McDaniel ...
Himself (as Wahoo McDaniels)


Promoting the world of professional wrestling at the expense of the plot itself, Frank Bass (Ed Asner) takes a stand and defends what he thinks is right. Gamblers, mobsters, unscrupulous wrestlers, money-grubbing promoters, and fixers conspire to corrupt the industry, but Frank tries to make the game as honest and fair as it is his idealized vision. Frank's efforts climax as he promotes an over-the-hill champion in the final matches of his career. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Karate Killers vs Wrestling Champs See more »


Action | Crime | Drama






Release Date:

February 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bestione superstar  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In addition to having real professional wrestlers playing the wrestlers in the film, "The Mobster" was played by professional wrestler Sammy Menacker. He was formerly known as "Slammin' Sam Menacker." By the time this film was made, Menacker had retired from the ring but was still in the business as a host/commentator. See more »

Crazy Credits

Professional wrestling legend Ric Flair is listed in the credits as "Rick Flair." This was made during the beginning years of Flair's career and he was trained by executive producer/star Verne Gagne. See more »


I See Them
Written by Howard Arthur
Sung by Mona Brandt, Pat McKee
See more »

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User Reviews

Little Picture,Top Mat Story, Reveals More About Ourselves.
3 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It is impossible to give an exact picture of an endeavor such as Pro Wrestling. One has to experience it for oneself. THE WRESTLER does a pretty good job of telling the story.

Basically it is a semi-autobiographical story of starring wrestler, Verne Gagne.A Minnesota native,Gagne himself is and has been a great athlete for most of his life. He excelled in the Simon Pure amateur ranks of the mat sport and was an end on the Golden Gofer Football Team while attending University of Minnesota. That was followed by a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.

Following a brief fling in the World of Professional Football*, it was in about 1949 that he came to the Pro Grappling ranks.His ability,youth and good looks (remember, this was the beginning of the television age)catapulted him to the top, where he remained for years.

Okay, we know that there is a big show business component in the Pro Wrestling game. In most areas it is advertised as an exhibition.But don't make the mistake that the participants aren't a tough lot of performers. In varying degrees, there are some tremendous exponents of out and out hand to hand combat.There are some truly big men, with big egos to match.

And just how does this writer know this? Well, I was a Pro Wrestler. For about seven years, I spent some of my leisure time as a part time mat man. Basically referred to as a "Job Man" on the big circuits, the best matches for a guy like me were at small town events.

Anyway, back to THE WRESTLER.

It was shown quite a bit on the Drive-In circuit and at minor "neighborhood" movie houses. Oddly enough, it also had a run at the Monroe Theatre, right in the heart of downtown Chicago. That's where we saw it.

It is Verne Gagne's picture. He and the American Wrestling Association undoubtedly financed it. And it looks very good, what with the filming done mostly, if not all on location.While it is familiar to fans of the Pro Game, it gives enough background to serve those who are uninitiated in the viewing audience.

Simply put, the story is one of mortality in a business that (much like Hollywood) expects its participants to remain as young as they were in their first bout.The leading character, the Promoter,Frank Bass (Asner), knows that it is his job to keep the action at the top fresh and exciting. This must be done, even if it means putting his long time friendship for the Champ,Mike Bullard (Gagne) on the line.

Finally, the big match is made between Champion and the talented, but still inexperienced challenger,Billy Taylor (Billy Robinson). In the end, we all realize that what Mr. Shakespeare said so long ago is as still true today, especially in The Pro Mat Game. It is the play that is the most important thing, not any individual.

Viewing this film would be a good idea for anyone, wrestling fan or not. THE WRESTLER gives a rare glimpse into the phenomenon of Professional Wrestling. It is more than just a "sport". It is a genuine piece of Americana.

* Gagne was also chosen as a member of the 1949 College All Star Team as an end and played against the NFL Champs that year.

UPDATE!!! Feb. 06, 2006, Chicago, Illinois We just viewed the new DVD edition of THE WRESTLER, yesterday after THE SUPERBOWL. It really looks so much better than the previous VHS version. The VHS release looked kind of worn,as if it were made from a used 35mm print of the movie, which it probably was.

The look and feel of this is much better than previously recalled by this reporter. It is coherent, logical and treats its subject matter with respect, all without neglecting some humor and high spots (action.)

This may be an all time neglected sort of "minor masterpiece".

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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