Requiem for a Heavyweight (partially found BBC Sunday-Night Theatre TV play; 1957)
Requiem for a Heavyweight is a teleplay written by Rod Serling, most well-known for his TV series The Twilight Zone. It was produced for Playhouse 90, a live TV show, on October 9th, 1956. It was also adapted into a movie, in 1962, starring Anthony Quinn.
The BBC adapted the teleplay for their live TV play show Sunday-Night Theatre, which in itself has many lost episodes. It aired on March 31st, 1957. It's notable for being the first major role of Sean Connery, most well-known for playing the first film adaptation of James Bond.
Mountain McClintock is a heavyweight boxing champion suffering from "punch drunk syndrome". Still, his manager exploits him, since he owes money to the mafia.
According to Alvin Rakoff (the director), the production was halted as Jack Palance (who portrayed McClintock in the original Playhouse 90 production) declined to appear. Rakoff was then tasked to find a replacement. He was told by Jacqueline Hill, who would play Grace Carney and had worked with Rakoff on multiple occasions, to choose an extra by the name of Sean Connery, whom Rakoff had worked with in The Condemned. She stated, "The ladies will like him". Hill is most known for portraying Barbara Wright in Doctor Who and ended up marrying Rakoff the year after the production of Requiem for Two Heavyweights.
Despite Rakoff not being fond of Connery's accent, he still casted him as the main character. Rakoff also wrote new material, with Serling's approval, to accommodate costume changes (US television had ad breaks during shows, while UK television did not).
Another notable cast member is Michael Caine, who was featured in one of the newly added scenes.
ReceptionThe NY Times wrote:
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Serling has allowed a saccharine romance to intrude into this self-sufficient and wholly masculine situation. Otherwise his touch is sure. Although physically miscast as the fighter, Mr. Sean Connery played with a shambling and inarticulate charm that almost made the love affair credible."
The episode has not survived in full due to it being a live performance, and BBC frequently wiping out tapes during the 1950s when they believed they had no use for it anymore.
Telesnaps taken by John Cura exists in Alvin Rakoff's possession. Also in Rakoff's possession is an audio recording of the show, which was discovered in his attic in 2014.
Since 2016, a reconstruction using the telesnaps and audio has been in the works. However, it is unknown when it's going to be released.
- Wikipedia article on the teleplay.
- IMDB page on the teleplay.
- TVBrain search query on BBC's Sunday-Night Theatre.
- BBC article on the rediscovery of Requiem for a HeavyWeight. Retrieved 25 Mar '21
- Archived page about Rod Sterling's involvement in Requiem for Two Heavyweights. Retrieved 25 Mar '21
- New York Times article on Requiem for a Heavyweight. Retrieved 01 Apr '21