Written by: Carroll Jenkins on October 2nd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1978
Director: Carl Reiner
Writer: Steve Gordon
Cast: Henry Winkler, Kim Darby, Gene Saks, William Daniels, Harold Gould, Polly Holliday, Hervé Villechaize, Bill Baldwin, Anthony Battaglia, Ed Begley Jr.
DVD released: June 3rd, 2008
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Legend Films/Paramount Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
Synopsis: An obnoxious drama student cannot conform to authority and therefore fails as a thespian. He scores in the romance department by sheer determination, but the couple struggles to make ends meet. Out of desperation he joins the professional wrestling circuit.
This is a hard romance to swallow. Kim Darby looks pained all the time during their courtship, as well she should. She finally agrees to marry him because she’s “too embarrassed to date him”. Her parents hate him, he can’t hold a job, and he eventually abandons her and the baby. But that’s okay, because, well, I forget why.
The One And Only realizes it’s greatest success in the square circle. It loves the wrestling world and delights in the characters that inhabit this realm. There is real drama to be had with the demanding life on the road, and Winkler struts around in his tights like Nature Boy Rick Flair. Hervé Villechaize has a substantial part as Henry’s guide through the wrestling wilderness. Richard Karron as The Elephant (based on Gorilla Monsoon?) is endearing, and real wrestlers Chavo Guerrero and Rowdy (Hot Rod) Roddy Piper make brief appearances. Mary Woronov throws herself on Winker in a bar and is rewarded instead with Villechaize.
This “romantic comedy” requires Winkler to whine and feel guilty throughout the film, which all seems a little pointless since he does exactly what he wants to anyway. They should have stayed with their strength and spent way more time with the wrestling theme. Perhaps modeled him more on a Mouth Of The South Jimmy Hart or Bobby The Brain / Weasel character. Kim Darby would have been excellent in an Elisabeth (First Lady of Wrestling) role, rather than the reluctant victim that she is. Instead of spending half the film explaining why Winkler’s character was destined to be a wrestler, they should have had ten minutes of exposition and jumped over the top rope right into the fray. Then they might have had a contender.
Slightly cropped from 1:85 to 1:78 [this seems to be an alarming trend], there are no subtitles but it is closed captioned. Overall an acceptable presentation for a moderately entertaining film.