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|Index||27 reviews in total|
For a movie about lady wrestlers, this was fairly realistic. Aside from
treating pro wrestling as real competition, the movie captures the life of
wrestlers on the road quite well. Women's wrestling never had it's own
territory, so the performers were always traveling to their next match. The
promoters controlled the payoff and moving up the card often meant getting
in good with the promoter. Performers worked through injuries and had no
health benefits. It was a tough life, but most loved it.
The actors are great and the story has a good framework. Peter Falk is the definite standout, but the two ladies acquit themselves quite well. The wrestling sequences are well staged and blow away anything booked by the WWE. The most far-fetched idea is women's wrestling headlining a big card in Las Vegas, with tv coverage. Well, it is a movie. It's also the best movie ever made about pro wrestling, all though that's not saying much.
It's been said that this movie inspired the GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) promotion and tv show. If true, they should have watched the movie more closely, as it was better than anything they presented.
The movie has its flaws, but it's still entertaining, and the final match will have you on the edge of your seat.
This is a film about a girl wrestling team and their manager (played by
Vicki Frederick, Laureen Landon and Peter Falk) on a tour across the
middle west of America. It was the last film directed by Robert Aldrich
and was an independent production that he is said to have financed
himself. Released through MGM, it had a disappointing run but is still
quite highly regarded by many viewers, probably because the direction,
camera work and acting were all significantly above average. Its
limited success probably resulted chiefly from the very limited
interest most potential viewers have in female wrestling as either
entertainment or sport. This was compounded by a serious dichotomy
between the actual wrestling sequences and those showing the team on
the road. Watching it is like simultaneously watching two very
different films cut up into sizeable chunks that have been mixed
together almost indiscriminately. Films of this type are often released
in several different versions, each designed to have greater appeal to
one specific group of potential viewers. This makes them difficult to
comment on, as comments written for one version may not be applicable
to another. This appears to be the case here The original release
"......all the Marbles" was renamed "The California Dolls" for release
in the U.K., and a second release in the U.S.A. also used this
alternative title. I saw the U.K. version, and so my comments may not
be applicable to either of those released in North America. Where does
one go from here? Clearly such a film can be reviewed at several
different levels depending upon the viewers interests. Equally clearly
this has already been brought out in the comments already submitted
about this film. Potential backers of films of this type have great
difficulty deciding whether there will be an adequate market, even when
the film-script under consideration is of exceptional quality; and it
may be even more difficult to decide to which market group the films
should be primarily directed. In reviewing it, rather than limiting my
comments to one such group, I would prefer to look briefly at how it
might be expected to appeal to several different groups of viewers.
I am among the viewers for whom the greatest appeal was the remarkably convincing performance of Peter Falk (whose work has mainly been for TV, and who is probably best known for playing the detective Columbo) as the manager of the small touring team. He was perfect as an experienced and wily, but very seedy, small scale business manager who has seen it all. Once could sense that life had continually been knocking him down, but that he had long ago mastered the art of picking himself up again and carrying on exactly as before. Top marks for this.
Another group of viewers would be more attracted by the realistic portrayal of the life style experienced by any independent group operating on the fringes of the entertainment industry, and continually on the move between a series of one night stands. This is an interesting lifestyle with which most of us are not familiar, and it was very convincingly portrayed here.
A third group will be those who rate female wrestling as a significant spectator sport and who want to watch this film primarily for the ring sequences. I believe these individuals should be very happy with what this film provides. However, after watching even one of the brutal wrestling sequences, other viewers will be left wondering why such attractive girls did not try to get Uncle Hef to picture them in his magazine wearing nothing but a pair of rabbit's ears, so that they could sign up with a Hollywood model agency and earn a few bucks by modelling (acting?) in films for Andy Sidaris, instead of through a life in the wrestling ring.
This brings us to the final group of viewers I will consider - those who enjoy a T&A film for its own sake. Both 'ccthemovieman-1' (in comments already on this database) and other non-IMDb sources refer to copious nudity in the original release of this film. I cannot comment on this as the version I saw was stripped of every vestige of toplessness (presumably because of concerns that such sequences might antagonise some viewers). Even during the mud wrestling sequences none of the contestants became topless for an instant (something I have always understood to be contrary to the whole 'philosophy' of mud wrestling). This confirms my earlier point that there are often several different versions of a film of this type put together in the editing room. If a DVD release is being considered MGM would have to decide which of them is most likely to be a commercial success.
My suggestion is therefore that MGM should consider issuing a double sided DVD, one side with a copy of ".... all the marbles" edited to maximise its appeal to both the latter groups above, and the other side with the alternate version "The California Dolls" edited to maximise its appeal to the first two groups above. This would also help to minimise the problem of the mixture of two different stories. The first version would concentrate on all the ring sequences, plus any others which showed the girls topless, and would include minimal linking sequences. I believe this version could have a wide appeal. It takes more than a few topless scenes to sell a T&A DVD today; but we have here two very attractive cast members who, quite unusually, are also very competent actresses. Those primarily interested in the topless sequences would probably also enjoy the wrestling (or cat-fighting as some of the comments have called it), so on balance this version should have a strong appeal. In the second version the fight scenes would be substantially cut in duration to allow the disk's many other purchasers a greater appreciation of the fascinating character studies provided by this movie.
Nice film with Peter Falk (RIP) ...I had seen it before, years ago,
didn't remember it though...except the mud wrestling scene and that hot
"Iris" aka Vicki Frederick - wow!
I wonder why Frederick didn't make it to a bigger star, she certainly had the looks and talent to be a real 80's sweetheart/hottie...
The movie is a sort of a mixed bag, divided between t&a of female wrestling scenes and story about them trying to make it...perhaps with too much wrestling/backstory depending on one's point of view... The last wrestling scene was something like 20 minutes long, a bit too much perhaps. But I have to say wrestling was well made and ladies were fit, so no big problem, entertaining fair nevertheless.
I liked the 70's feel of it, reminded me a bit about Rocky...well it did have "Paulie" in it. And Columbo, in quite a different role, pulling a fine performance as a sleazy manager. And of course according to this film, wrestling is all real, not a show. Ha! Wonderful find.
I have always been a Burt Young fan and to see this film was definitely a treat. I always knew wrestling was a show and not a real sport although the athletes themselves are really taking the bumps and it does take a lot of ability to pull off the moves. I was extremely annoyed when wrestling became a "sports entertainment", because it is more bullshitting than wrestling now a days. I for one applaud movies like the original Wrestler with Ed Asner and Body Slam as they kept the secret of wrestling well hidden. The tongue and cheek way I watched it growing up illustrated the fact that no one could really do that 360 days a year and survive. I especially enjoyed this film because of its plot. A tag team wrestles their way to the top and will do almost anything to get a shot at the title. Burt Young plays a great heal in the film and you genuinely despise him as the film goes on. Peter Falk is his usual charming fatherly type and this film didn't feel staged. I am not familiar with either actress that played the California Dolls so for the first film I have seen them in they did an astounding job. I felt it was more realistic then 1974's The Wrestler which was more of a B rated film. I think that any wrestling fan that longs for the old days of pro wrestling will really enjoy this film. For the new agers who like all the sex and story lines that ruined the old school programs there is enough eye candy to keep you entertained....
I saw this movie in Chennai(then Madras),India way back in the early eighties while in college.I remember the movie vividly for its vibrant wrestling action and its handsome women.Peter Falk I remember at his leering best and it still remains one of my favourite movies though I've never managed to lay my hands on a DVD as yet ! I remember it running to a packed house for many weeks at a theatre called LEO which being close to our college used to be filled with a raucous crowd of chanting guys who just loved the movie.I guess we must have seen the movie no less than 5 times! It would be great to get a copy of California DOLLS(it was'nt called ALL THE MARBLES when it was released here)for old times sake. Laura really was a looker and we just loved her!
Talk about buried treasures, this is such a one: A tough, gritty movie that has the feel of a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Aldrich has produced a no-holds barred roadmovie about a female freewrestling tag team, marvelously played by drive-in favorite Laurene Landon and Vicki Friderick and Peter Falk plays the girls greasy manager, a perfect role for him. The team wrestles in rundown industrial towns in hardhitting, brutal battles. Amazing choreography is sure to keep you at the edge of the seat However many are likely to find this movie too brutal for their taste, so if Rollerball is you cup of tea, step right up. If you taste more goes in direction of Driving Miss Daisy, this may not be the movie for you. Overdue for DVD release. 9/10
This film will be dismissed by most viewers much like I dismiss hip hop music. With the recent revival of pro wrestling, it is a shame that this film stays buried in the MGM/UA film library. All the Marbles, is the story of the California Dolls, 2 very attractive lady wrestlers seeking wrestling work and fame in seedy blue collar cities and towns of Mid America. Their manager is Peter Falk. They hope to leverage their good looks and athletic talents into the major league of pro wrestling. This film had a first rate director, capable cast, and was well written. It was a shame that it failed at the box office. While lady wrestling is not currently mainstream, things are changing, women can be stronger and better trained and more and more people are watching wrestling. Weekly pro wrestling attracts more TV viewers than weekly baseball. Hey MGM, how 'bout putting All the Marbles back on TV.
A strange underrated film. brilliant acting and wonderful fight
sequences. The film lives in a curious world of endless motel rooms,
dislocation and transit (Harry's grubby car/opera soundtrack ...) A
curious feature is also that we are asked to believe that pro tag
wrestling is "for real." the photography throughout is excellent and
the performances are very strong (Falk is superb!)another wonderful,
tantalising element is the scant detail we are given of the central
characters. Molly = "junkie" ex secretary, Iris = ex lover of Harry,
and Harry himself = opera loving ex teacher. the tone of the film is of
these (and other) exploited girls, literally fighting for a better
life, on the "eternal road" both strong, but a million miles from
"independent". occasional comic moments, and moments which bring
enormous sympathy and empathy. a classic film. and sadly, I believe,
P Hancock. Kent, UK
Being a fan of lady wrestling for decades, I had hoped to see this movie at the theater when it first came out, but that opportunity never came. However, I did rent it once or twice afterward, and taped it when it came on the small screen. First, want to say that most of the previous reviews were right on the mark. I always liked and admired the performances turned in by Peter Falk in the Columbo series, but 95% of my interest in this movie was due to the main theme: women's wrestling. And I was not disappointed, especially with the complete matches shown between the Dolls and their reigning champion archrivals (the same cannot be said for "Wrestling Queen" starring the late, great Vivian Vachon, but featuring as much men's wrestling as women's. BTW, if you doubt the popularity of female grappling, go to Youtube.com and check out the tens of thousands of views that the women's wrestling/catfighting clips regularly garner). And having 4 very pretty women as the main wrestlers did not hurt at all, either. 2 thumbs and 8 fingers up for this movie, and a hope that somebody not in Vinny Mac's pocket will do another one along these lines one day soon!
"All The Marbles" has one major asset: the staging of the wrestling sequences. They are long, appropriately noisy, well-edited and expertly done. But the movie often lags during the fairly pointless scenes that are designed to link together those sequences. The two heroines are very beautiful and also demonstrate considerable acting talent, and Falk adds some bright moments, but the movie still can't shake off a definite "low-energy" sense in its non-wrestling scenes. Still, this is a "must" for fans of the subject, if only because of the rarity of similar movies.
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