Director: Ralph Nelson
Stars: Jack Palance, Anthony Quinn, Keenan Wynn, Kim Hunter, Ed Wynn
Thanks to the ever-brilliant The Twilight Zone, TV icon Rod Serling is typically associated with twisty genre tales that either drill home social messages or unpretentiously work to induce viewers’ unease. And while such a description is apt for Serling, it’s also slightly underselling the man’s greatness; as evidenced by his screenplay for the 1962 sports drama Requiem For A Heavyweight, Serling was a master at rich characterization.
Originally airing as part of CBS’ theater-inspired anthology series Playhouse 90, Requiem is arguably the greatest boxing flick of all time (yes, we see you, Rocky), centering on a down-and-out pugilist, Mountain Rivera (Anthony Quinn), who, in addition to suffering from fighter’s dementia, unwillingly becomes a wrestler to help pay off his irresponsible manager’s (Jackie Gleason) gambling debts.
Full of pathos and boasting one whopper of an in-ring fight sequence (an opener that pits Rivera against Cassius Clay), Requiem For A Heavyweight is one of Rod Serling’s most impressive achievements, which, trust us, says a lot.
3. Requiem For A Heavyweight (1962)