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 ...
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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
The original theatrical release (@ 102 minutes) includes the following three segments which were removed from the VHS and DVD releases (both of which are approximately 86 minutes):
Following the fade on Ma Greeny's reaction shot as Maish is beaten in the boxing ring, there is a seven minute sequence in the hotel bar and adjacent alley: Maish asks Mountain if he has any money stashed away (to pay off Ma Greeny); Mountain recognizes and stops to help a bleeding, drunk fighter in the alley and gets into a fight with his scumbag promoter of illegal matches, which is broken up by Army and Maish, who rejects scumbag's idea of getting Mountain a wrestling career with Pirelli. Scene ends with Maish's clichés about the Three Musketeers and "Til death do us part" that reinforce the illusion that "Nobody jumps anybody in this group!"
A 1 minute 43 second transitional sequence after Mountain is rejected for the movie usher job shows him rejected as he tries to get a job on a moving van crew and as a sparring partner for a boxer who's training to fight Clay. Again he starts a fight after the boxer says, "I already got a punching bag!"
A 6 minute 27 second sequence after Maish's reaction shot in the stairway following his confrontation with Grace Miller. Pirelli is coaching Mountain in the gym to "make it look real!" Again Mountain starts punching his wrestling partner after his seriously injured eye is intentionally reinjured. Ma Greeny's goon squad warns Maish that he has till tomorrow to come up with the cash. And Ma Greeny tells Maish that "we're cutting out the middleman" and that Pirelli will pay her directly for Mountain's wrestling contract. Maish says, "I wish you weren't a woman," and Ma replies, "Maishy darling, that's the nicest thing anyone ever said to me!"
The VHS release adds an additional scene (@ 1 minute 11 seconds) which was cut from both the theatrical and DVD releases. [Since the DVD restores the original sequence at this point, and significantly changes the emotional focus of the ending, the DVD is preferable to the VHS release.] As Mountain ascends (both literally and figuratively) to the wrestling ring, the deleted scene has Maish warning the newbie who wants to sign a boxing contract replacing Mountain to "Go home!" instead of starting a career in which there are only eight champions and everybody else is a loser. The VHS also cuts medium shot in which the referree says, "Come on, Mountain, let's get this show on the road!" and, more significantly, the closeup in which Mountain makes the crucial decision to embrace his humiliation and starts his warwhoop dance around the ring.
Rod Serling, of Twilight Zone fame, deserves kudos for this wonderful screenplay about an over the hill fighter played by Anthony Quinn, whose life and legend are at the behest of his corrupt and cynical manager, Jackie Gleason. Trainer Mickey Rooney is the only person in cinematic history who can call Gleason a "fink" and make it sound authentic. When Quinn's character can't cut it any longer, he tries to find meaningful work. However, he's taken one too many blows to the head, and has offered his allegiance to someone willing to betray him for a hint of the glory of the old days. Quinn's performance as the punch drunk fighter is full of pathos and extremely well done -- his finest hour in my opinion. Serling has much to say about the human spirit, love, and friendship gone awry. Beautifully photographed in black and white, this film deserves multiple viewings.
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