Blood Money (TV Movie 1957) Poster

(1957 TV Movie)

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Even Better then the Movie
mattbcoach4 May 2004
After young Rod Serling's Playhouse 90 hit "Patterns" became a household word, he went into a drought in terms of commercial success. This was before his "Twilight Zone" days. Eventually, Serling felt a strong urge to prove to the public that "Patterns" was not all he had. "Requiem for a Heavyweight" proved that Rod still had plenty of great writing in him. Former Army Divisional Bantamweight boxing champ Serling writes a story of incredible sensitivity and depth. Unlike many boxing movies, there were no real boxing scenes or action scenes in this one. The story is all about an aging, former Heavyweight fringe contender who has just been butchered in a bout by an up and comer. After the fight the ring doctor examines him and says "thats it. No More". How would any of us handle being told that? Especially when Boxing is all you have done. The Boxer, Mountain McClintock, played with great depth by former boxer Jack Palance, is unsure which direction his life is going to take. After the Doctor leaves the dressing room, Mountain is told by his Manager, Maish (Very well played by Keenan Wynn) that hes through. "Why?", says Mountain. "You got old, kid" says Maish. "Old? Doesnt everybody get old?" replies McClintock. McClintock's difficult attempts to find himself, and the troubles of his manager, create perhaps the finest teleplay ever seen. Understand that this was a LIVE performance. Performed in front of TV cameras and immediately beamed into people's homes. That was the norm in those early days of Television It was like watching a live play in your livingroom. No second takes. Despite this, flubs are few and far between.

How Mountain, his Manager, and his cutman (played by Keenan Wynn's dad, Ed) face their problems and conflicts is just what great drama is all about.
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Original 11 October 1956 teleplay superior to 1962 film, overall (spoilers possible)
peter-m-koch11 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The version of the 1962 film I have seen, taped off WNET Channel 13 in spring 1994, lacks one of the trainer, Army's, strongest speeches, rendered very movingly by Ed Wynn in the live 1956 teleplay :

Army (to Maish) : What is this kid to you, huh ? A hunk of flesh ? A cross to bear ? (in Maish's face) : Listen to me ! I'll tell you what he is ! He's a decent man, with a heart ! He's somebody's flesh and blood ! You can't sell this on the street by the pound ! (crying)'Cause if you do, Maish, if you do, you'll rot in hell for it ! Ya hear me ! You'll rot !

Later, more quietly :

Army : Why is it, Maish, tell me, why is it that so many people have to feed off of one guy's misery. Tell me, Maish, doesn't it make you want to die ?

These lines would have been incredibly powerful, delivered by Mickey Rooney, who could have, and to some extent, did, give the role of Army, to use Rod Serling's words, a grittiness and toughness that Ed Wynn just didn't have to give it.

The TV teleplay has the washed-up boxer, Mountain McClintock, played so well by Jack Palance, escape the "graveyard" of punchy ex-boxers in the sports bar in the seedy hotel, and the humiliation of "fixed" championship wrestling.

The film, with Anthony Quinn as Mountain Rivera, ends with Rivera becoming a phony wrestler, a clown, and laughing stock, a much more pessimistic ending, which says that money DOES have the power to rob a man of his last remaining shred of dignity.

The film has the dark, urban cinematography of many episodes of "The Twilight Zone", and is cleaner and sharper than the kinescope of the TV play, but perhaps the original live broadcast of the TV play was sharp and clear as well.

If anyone knows of a technique whereby kinescopes of TV plays can be restored to the clarity of their original live broadcast, please comment.

I prefer the pathos of Palance as Mountain McClintock, his shy, hesitant, yet clear way of speaking, to the labored, wheezing diction of Quinn as Rivera. Similarly, I prefer Kim Hunter to Julie Harris as the social worker who tries to help Mountain escape the degradation and living death of the professional fight business, though both actresses did a fine job. Kim Hunter's costume became softer and more feminine in the teleplay, going from the initial meeting with Mountain in her office, to her one-on-one meetings with him in the sports bar, and on the street.

The film, however, has a confrontation between the social worker, and Mountain's manager, Maish, that the teleplay does not have. The teleplay, however, has a dialogue between the social worker and Army, Mountain's handler, that the film does not have.

I think Edgar Stehli's performance as the doctor in the teleplay was stronger than the one in the film, with its mention of, "Where do you buy your cigars, Maish ? Tell me, and I'll condemn the store !", live and dead ones, "you, too, can become pathological", meat inspection, stamping carcasses, and "Joker ? Who's laughing ?"

However, I find Jackie Gleason and Mickey Rooney in the film to be a much starker character and physiognomy contrast, and much stronger character definition, than father and son Ed and Keenan Wynn in the teleplay.
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10/10
Profiting from a man's misery
schappe13 September 2006
This is another review from my mini-marathon of original live TV classics and the movies they made of them. I've done "Marty" and will do "Requiem for a Heavyweight", "Bang the Drum Slowly" and "The Days of Wine and Roses". I'd love to see the original "12 Angry Men" with Bob Cummings but it doesn't seem to be available. I'd love to see a cable channel devoted to these old shows, even some non-classics if they represented early work by famous actors, directors and writers, (as so many of them did). But this will do for now.

I believe that of all the famous live dramatic presentations of the 1950's, the greatest of them all was Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight, the premiere show of perhaps the best of all the anthology shows, Playhouse 90, to which Serling was a major contributor. It's the ultimate story of human dignity, (and how many stories are explicitly about that?).

The locations are seedy gyms and boxing arenas, a corner bar and some streets. The only "opening up" between the TV and film versions is a chase scene between Maish, (Jackie Gleason) and some hoods that takes him through the streets and back alleys. The real difference is the casting, which involves several giants of show business.

The underrated, (for most of his career) Jack Palance is "Mountain McClintock" on TV, a bumbling hulk of a fighter who is still a young man, (33), in age but ancient in any other way. He retains some cognitive ability but not much and a certain gentleness as well as a blind faith in his manager. But he's reached the end of the road and doesn't know where to go. Palance looks like his own ghost, trying to comprehend the present and oblivious of the future.

Anthony Quinn, who was personal friends with a number of boxers, inherited the role, (now "Mountain Rivera") for the movie. He is a great actor and he gives a great acting performance as Mountain. But it always seems to be a performance. When he's supposed to be hurt, he acts hurt. When he's supposed to be sensitive, he acts sensitive. But he doesn't seem to be the same guy in both scenes. He is a little too intelligent and philosophical in the scenes where he's not climbing out of the ring, too much like the real Quinn. He is performing Mountain Rivera. Jack Palance BECAME Mountain McClintock. It was a shock to see him in an interview on the same tape as the erudite man he actually is. He was "Mountain" in every minute of every scene of the TV show.

Jackie Gleason, (Maish), and Mickey Rooney, (Army, the trainer), are two of the colossi of 20th century show business and it's interesting to see them work together. Except that Gleason's performance seems to be missing something, as if he really didn't understand his character, even though he must have known many people like him. Rooney comes off better. Of course he has the better lines, although some of them appear to have wound up on the cutting room floor as some of Ed Wynn's best lines from the TV show are absent. One thing I liked was that Army was obviously an old fighter himself, with the scars on his face. He was presumably Maish's meal ticket before Mountain came along, which adds something to the story.

The story of Ed Wynn's performance is interesting and touching. He was a life-long comedian who punctuated his performances with silly laughter and other bits of business. His son, Keenan, was afraid that, in this live show, he was going to do that, which would have ruined anything. Ed was terribly nervous for fear of the same thing and because he'd never played drama before. His nervousness only made it more likely that he'd resort to his mannerisms. They actually rehearsed on the side with Ned Glass, who played the bartender, to take over the role if Ed broke down, which was a real possibility. Instead, he came through with flying colors in a legendary performance. The knowledge of this story is part of the legend. It's possible that Glass, (or Rooney in the film) might have been as good but the performance wouldn't have been as dramatic an achievement as what Wynn did.

I like Keenan Wynn's Maish much better than Gleason's. He has a haunted, desperate look. The best Gleason could do is look dyspeptic. Kim Hunter and Julie Harris, as the employment counselors, are a wash, although Julie has more to do in the film. The real fighters employed as the washed up barflies add a lot to the atmosphere. Mountain has an awareness that he doesn't want to be one of them. (Some of them were known to have suffered from dementia). I like the tragic ending of the film better than the hopeful one of the TV show, although I prefer Maish and Army going off with the young middleweight at the end, their hopes renewed, as we see on TV. Maish's angry anti-boxing diatribe at the end of the film rings true enough for boxers but false and out of character for him.
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Playhouse 90 jewel
futures-127 March 2007
"Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1956): Starring Jack Palance, Keenan Wynn, Kim Hunter, and Ed Wynn, and, written by Rod Serling, for Playhouse 90. Ninety minutes of nothing but LIVE television. The actors had to move in a constant flow from set to set, with all their lines and moves hidden in their heads. This was a serious play about a recently has-beened Boxer who knows no other life than that of fighting. His family is a manager and doctor. Now he's cut loose, and needs work. It's an emotional story about dreams, nightmares, and the real world. It has something of the feel of "On the Waterfront". It won the Golden Globe Award for the year, and put Rod Serling (pre-"Twilight Zone") on top. All the actors were marvelous. The sets were admirable for the conditions under which they had to work. A "Kinescope" of the broadcast (filming the t.v. monitor screen) was the only documentation. It is well worth your view.
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requiem for a heavyweight
mattie021824 June 2007
Are these the actors that played in the 1957 TV version of Requiem for a Heavyweight? Sean Connery and Michael Caine could not have played those parts. Recheck the actors. Jack Palance is never mentioned. Also I was looking for Ned Glass in the movie version, but his name is never mentioned. He was Charlie the bartender. Whoever is writing the credits is slipping. There should be a proofreader for the proofreader. Sorry if this is an inconvenience. Requiem for a Heavyweight was one of my favorite movies. Although it lacked action, I really enjoyed the character study of a has-been fighter. Will there ever be an updated version of this magnificent movie?
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