Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wrestling (1964 Documentary)

Directors: Michel Brault, Marcel Carreiere, Claude Fournier, Claude Jutra
Distributor: National Film Board of Canada
Released: 1961 (reaired 2004)

Featured Talent
Wild Red Berry, Eduord Carpentier, Al Costello, Dominic Denucci, Ivan Kalimikoff, Tony Lanza, Yvon Robert 

The Good
The simple fact is there is not much quality pro-wrestling footage out there prior to the 1980s, so when some gems like this are avaliable, it is important to enjoy them. This brief documentary shows some great insight into the "Golden Age" of pro-wrestling. That sport that has a lot of tongue-in-cheek comedy, simple characters and more white hot heat than anything you see on TV today. This documentary focuses on pro-wrestling in Canada, specifically Quebec. It shows legendary trainer Tony Lanza working with some of his students. It has a lengthy highlight reel of sorts from the card being featured. Seeing these nondescript wrestlers go through moves on black and white film and the action being set to Bach is fascinating to see. It is at times whimiscal, at times artsy and it even borders on beautiful a few times. The main event is Eduoard Carpentier and Dominic Denucci against Al Costello and Ivan Kalimikoff. These are four men who were top stars in the 60s, but receive little, if any, fanfare today. To see Carpentier is amazing - a thickly muscled, charismatic babyface who flips around and works the crowd to perfection. Denucci, known now mostly as Mick Foley's mentor, shows why he was a top draw in Australia as he sells a pounding that drives the Italians in the crowd wild. Costello and Kalimikoff, two master tag wrestlers, heel it up and they generate that heat you just don't see these days. Also it should be mentioned Wild Red Berry cuts a promo at the end that along with Kalimikoff shows how simple it is. 

The Bad
I have few complaints about this. Thirty minutes was way too short to satisfy me, although I loved seeing this action. They didn't name the undercard matches or wrestlers, so I didn't know who was who is all the black trunks and black boots. While some may say a lot of this looked fake, this is from near fifty years ago! Sure, parts of this don't compare to today's action, but the heat is just amazing to experience. I wouldn't call this a must-see for everyone, but if you are into pro-wrestling history this captures much of what made the television era so great.

The Rating: ****

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