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.
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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