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Films: T is for...

They Live

Ah, if ever there was a film of two halves… The quintessential ‘money’s run out’ potboiler from The Carp, which starts off in fantastic Outer Limits style with ‘special shades’ uncovering a consumerist zombie invasion plot, which is then promptly jettisoned in favour of half an hour of Rowdy ‘Roddy’ Piper slapping blokes in rubber masks about. All of which leads us to muse – honest – about great wrestling scenes in films. Women in Love is automatically disqualified. The California Dolls is the one that immediately springs to mind, with peter Falk carting two ‘lady canvas athletes’ around a grim tag team circuit. Even grimmer, and crummier, are the long-shelved Below the Belt, and Dirk Benedict’s ‘rock ‘n’ wrestling’ extravaganza Body Slam (featuring Roddy in action again, with music from Bachman-Turner Overdrive, aptly enough). But there was life afore the federal ’80s (and we’ll skip lightly over Grunt! the Wrestling Movie). Bert ‘Put ’em up!’ Lahr hawked Vince ‘Ben Casey’ Edwards round the ring in in ultra-cheap Mr Universe, while Sly Stallone beat the Great Depression with a bit of urban wrestling in Paradise Alley. Even Bogie got in on the act, though he didn’t like to talk about his turn as a down-at-heel promoter in Ozarks-set musical wrestling comedy Swing Your Lady. Ed Asner’s probably similarly reticent about his plugging duties for the likes of Hard Boiled Haggerty and Lord ‘Tally-Ho’ Blears in The Wrestler. In the realms of ‘proper’ wrestling (the one where they wear rubber helmets, no-one has a silly name and nothing much happens) Matthew Modine graduated from the high school of hard knocks in the bizarrely-named-like-a-budget-optician brat packer Vision Quest, interrupted by pastries-era Madonna warbling Crazy For You apropos nowt. And Robin Williams did a bit in between writing stories about divorcees being crushed by pianos in Garp, of course. Yes yes, but they’re all American! Well, quite. No-one seems to have bothered with a bona fide Brit wrestling flick, much to our chagrin (unless of course you know better). Mick MacManus was captured in black-and-white action for sordid Soho mock-doc Primitive London. Big Daddy cameoed in off-colour bawdy Diane Keen romp The Sex Thief. Kendo Nagasaki and Giant Haystacks astonishingly never got anywhere near the fleapit, having to content themselves with cameos in Brian Glover’s Granada comedy Send in the Girls, in which Anna Carteret and Floella Benjamin wrestled with the wild and crazy world of, er, sales promotion.

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