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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Requiem for a Heavyweight
Directed by Ralph Nelson
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment 01/62 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Not Rated

Mountain Rivera (Anthony Quinn) has worked hard for his manager Maish (Jackie Gleason) for 17 years as a heavyweight boxer. In the opening scene of this sports drama, the heavyweight fighter is on his last legs. Having been beaten badly and knocked out in the seventh round, Rivera staggers back to the dressing room. His bleeding eye blurs his vision. The ring doctor tells him it's all over. He can't fight again. "Tell him to buy a scrapbook," the physician advises Maish and Rivera's trainer Army (Mickey Rooney).

"All I know how to do is fight," says the 37-year-old veteran who was ranked number five among heavyweights in 1952. He tries to get work as an usher but is turned away. Miss Miller (Julie Harris), a kind-hearted employment counselor, helps him complete his papers at her office. She believes that he might be able to land a job at a camp counseling young boys.

Maish, who is under pressure to pay back some gambling debts, wants Rivera to become a wrestler so he can keep making money off him. Army, who views him as family, wants only the best for his friend. Can the punch-drunk boxer, whose glory days are gone, find a new life on his own? Or will he throw it all away for the debt he feels he owes Maish?

Requiem for a Heavyweight was originally presented on Playhouse 90 in 1957 as a black-and-white television drama; it won an Emmy. This big-screen adaptation by writer Rod Serling and director Ralph Nelson vividly conveys Rivera's struggle to hold on to his dignity in a world where he's ill-equipped to make a place for himself. In the end, he chooses to follow the dictates of his heart.

The DVD release of this classic film been remastered in high definition and offers both widescreen and full-screen presentations. It includes subtitles in English, Frnech, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as interactive menus, scene selections, and bonus trailers.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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