Requiem for a Heavyweight is the story of boxer Mountain Rivera (Anthony Quinn). At one point in his career, he was one of the best boxers in the world. After 17 years in the ring, his career is coming to an end. In his latest fight Mountain is trounced in the ring. Examined by a doctor after the fight, it is determined that Mountain can no longer box or he risks permanent disability. Having to move on from boxing, Mr. Rivera has to figure out a new path in life. His trainer (Mickey Rooney) and an employment counselor (Julie Harris) try to find him work outside of the ring. Meanwhile his former manager Maish (Jackie Gleason) is in serious debt to the mob. To make some quick cash he tries to convince Mountain to join staged wrestling matches which are humiliating for Mountain.
Most people’s, myself included, first thought would be that Requiem for a Heavyweight is a sports movie. The premise is about an over the hill boxer after all. The movie does start with a boxing match (featuring Muhammad Ali) and has a few wrestling scenes. Otherwise it is not your typical sports movie.
Instead the movie is mostly about trying to find a way to move forward in your life. Forced to leave the ring for his health, Mountain has a hard time finding work and a life outside of boxing. He has a hard time adjusting to his new life. This is mostly because he doesn’t really have any experience outside of the ring. His whole life revolved around boxing, and it was suddenly taken away. Some people try to help him find his way, but others try to use them for their own benefit.
Requiem for a Heavyweight was not what I was expecting it to be. Despite this there are things that I liked about it. It is an interesting take on your typical sports movie as it deals more with forced retirement and life after boxing. Without getting too much into spoilers, Requiem for a Heavyweight is not a happy story. It is more of a sad tale of a man who gave everything he had to a sport. It was then quickly ripped away. He then has to try and pick himself up in a world where he has few skills outside of boxing. If you aren’t in for a sad kind of depressing story, Requiem for a Heavyweight may not be for you.
I think the movie’s greatest strength is the cast. The cast in Requiem for a Heavyweight is fantastic. Anthony Quinn is fantastic in the lead role as a boxer who has taken one too many hits in the ring. Mickey Rooney does a good job as the trainer who tries everything he can to help his old friend. Julie Harris is a kind employment counselor that dedicates herself to try and put Mountain on a new better path. Finally Jackie Gleason plays the former manager that cares for his friend, but has his own money problems that he has to deal with. The acting is really good and helps carry the story.
While the movie has an interesting story with great acting, its greatest weakness is just the fact that it can be kind of slow at times. If you are expecting a fast paced action movie, you are not going to get it with Requiem for a Heavyweight. Outside of the opening scene and a few wrestling scenes later on, the movie is mostly characters talking to one another. While the movie is only 86 minutes long, it does tend to drag a little at times. I wish there was a little more action to the film as it does get a little slow at times.
As for the 2023 Mill Creek Entertainment release of Requiem for a Heavyweight, it is a basic release. The disc does not have any special features. Since the movie was released back in 1962, it is in black and white. This means the Blu-ray high definition won’t have as big of an impact as a newer film. Generally I found the picture quality to be quite good for a 60 year old movie. There is some light graininess, but that is typical of films of the age. Based on its age, I don’t think you could ask for much more from the picture quality.
Ultimately I found Requiem for a Heavyweight to be a solid but not spectacular movie. The story is not your typical sports story as it is more about what to do with your life after you have to unceremoniously move on. The movie is not particularly action packed. It is an interesting story about trying to move on with your life though. The acting in the film is great and easily its greatest asset. While kind of sad and depressing, there is some good drama in Requiem for a Heavyweight. The problem is that the movie kind of drags at times.
My recommendation for Requiem for a Heavyweight comes down to your thoughts on the premise. If it sounds like something that you would enjoy, I would recommend checking out Requiem for a Heavyweight.
Buy Requiem for a Heavyweight Blu-ray online: Amazon
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of Requiem for a Heavyweight Blu-ray used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.