"There are only eight champions and everybody else is a loser."
If there had never been an earlier TV production of Requiem for A Heavyweight, this might possibly seem an even better film, but while it's a good look at the seamy underside of boxing it lacks the punch of the original. While Rod Serling is best remembered today for The Twilight Zone, he also wrote several great TV dramas in the age of live television, and Requiem for a Heavyweight, the first 90-minute live drama to air on US TV, was one of the best, with a truly incredible lead performance from Jack Palance that was one of the most talked about of its day. Unfortunately Palance didn't return for this big-screen version - and nor did Kim Hunter and Keenan Wynn - with original director Ralph Nelson getting a starrier cast in the form of Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney and Julie Harris (as well as Cassius Clay and Jack Dempsey) for this belated remake six years later. They're all good and this tale of a boxer's journey to the bottom thanks to an exploitative manager works well despite Quinn seeming like he's been around a little too long to be quite that naïve, but it's well worth seeking out the original on Criterion's Region 1 The Golden Age of Television set: this is very good, but that is great.
To make matters worse, the DVD release is also heavily cut by some 16 minutes from the original theatrical release version (as well as including a slightly different ending), and the scenes cut are anything but padding. No extras at all on the UK or US DVDs either.