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Requiem for a Heavyweight Reviews

Six years after Jack Palance brilliantly essayed the character of Mountain Rivera on television's "Playhouse 90," Anthony Quinn took on the role of the battered boxer for this big-screen adaptation of Rod Serling's Emmy-winning teleplay. As the film begins, Rivera, a veteran of 17 years in the ring, is beaten senseless by a younger, faster opponent (played by Cassius Clay, soon to be Muhammad Ali), going down for the count in the seventh round. His longtime manager, Gleason, who assured mobster Spivy that his fighter wouldn't last past the first few rounds, is given three weeks to compensate her for her betting losses--or else. Rivera has been told that he may go blind if he fights again, so he tries to get a job to come up with the money with the help of Harris, a caring employment counselor. Gleason, however, sabotages his interview for a position at a summer camp. Disappointed with Gleason but ever loyal, Rivera compromises his dignity by donning an Indian war bonnet and entering the professional wrestling ring to save his manager's life. Quinn, Gleason, and Rooney, as Rivera's erstwhile trainer, turn in magnificent performances in this unforgettable drama of abiding friendship and the abuse of trust. However, director Ralph Nelson, who also helmed the original 1956 television production, asked that his name be removed from the credits when nonessential scenes that had been cut from the original release print were reinstated to make the feature longer. Although those scenes, which slow down the narrative, certainly work against the film, REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT remains a thoroughly engaging movie.