Monday, August 6, 2018
Requiem for a Heavyweight
With the help of his trainer Army (Mickey Rooney), Rivera tries to find some steady work outside the ring. His manager Maish Rennick (Jackie Gleason), however, has a number of debts to some bookies so he wants to Rivera to keep fighting. But what does the fighter's future hold?
There's a weariness to Requiem for a Heavyweight that shows an empathy to Rivera's situation. With a script penned by Rod Serling, that tiredness and cynicism make all the more sense. (Just watch The Twilight Zone or Seven Days in May.) The film's not in the mood for bullshit.
Now this version of Requiem for a Heavyweight has some noted changes from its original teleplay. (The lead character's named Harlan McClintock, for starters.) And the conclusion for the film is decidedly more depressing on many fronts. (But again, with Serling at the typewriter, that's not a surprise.)
Requiem for a Heavyweight is definitely not the kind of uplifting picture most boxing films were the previous decade. With Serling's shrewd views on full display, the film shines a sad light on those in Rivera's small circle. And as some episodes of The Twilight Zone showed, not everyone gets the happy ending they seek.
My Rating: ****