Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Original Title: ...All the Marbles
Year: 1981
Director: Robert Aldrich
Writer: Mel Frohman
IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081964/
Genre: Drama, Wrestling

Harry manages The California Dolls, a female wrestling tag team endlessly touring America. He is also romantically involved with one of them. Their fortunes seem on the slide (particularly when Harry accepts an engagement involving mud wrestling!) but then the big grudge match beckons.

Oh what could have been.

I'm sure I have said that about films on my blog before, but it really applies to ...All the Marbles. This film was on the verge several times of being something special, but some tragic editing left it feeling very, very unfulfilling.

There are so many stories here that are touched upon, but never are they taken anywhere. Harry (Peter Falk) and Iris' (Vicki Frederick) apparent love affair. Molly's (Laurene Landon) entire background and drug problem. Harry's problems with gambling. The tour of Japan that never quite happens. This film puts far too many pokers in the proverbial fire, then just forgets about them for the sake of a Hollywood structure.

After watching the film and prepping for this review, I read this interesting post from a user on IMDb:
This movie wasn't ever supposed to have been a comedy. It was a serious drama that got chopped up by the studio execs who thought that it had gotten too serious for a wrestling movie.  
Molly (Laurene) was supposed to had been a lesbian who had been abused by her father who had the hots for her partner Iris (Vicky). The relationship between Iris and Harry (Peter) had a dark side to it. There were some scenes between the females wrestlers and some of the predatory male characters that would've had the audience wanting to get up to go to the theater restrooms to wash their hands.
The mudwrestling scene was there not for titilation, but to show how humiliating it can be to be a female wrestler (How many times has Hulk Hogan wrestled in hot oil?).
A little trivia: All the wrestling scenes were shot "stiff", meaning that nobody pulled their punches and everybody was hitting each other for real. Actress Kathleen Turner was supposed to have played the Iris character, but some studio execs came by the set during rehearsal and asked for a demonstration of the women's wrestling skills. Kathleen broke her hip after being tossed into the third row of seats by another actress. 
Anyway, it's time to see this movie originally as it was edited.
I don't know how much of this is true, but you can definitely see choppy editing and weird pacing... and stories left up in the air so it makes sense. This film could definitely benefit from being reedited entirely.

I don't usually start off with such a complaint, but I really saw some potential in it, which was very surprising for me. Going in to a film about women's wrestling, with that poster and that silly name, with what I know about organizations such as GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), I expected silliness. And whoever edited the film tried their hardest to make the film a little sleazy and a little humorous, but the darker elements certainly could not be hidden. It leaves you wanting to know much more about the characters in a better made film as well as more about the back stage of pro-wrestling in general.

But don't worry... I'm still gonna talk about tits and women slapping the shit out of each other.

Landon and Frederick as the California Dolls are not very good actresses, but they fucking bring it in the ring! I had to see if these ladies were actually professional wrestlers as they gave and received some impressive wrestling holds and maneuvers in the film.

I also read on IMDb that the matches in the film were performed stiff, meaning the hits that you see are real. When you see these women throwing elbows to their opponents' sweaty tits, that impact hurts! Kathleen Turner apparently was considered for the role of Iris until at a test she was thrown from the ring and broke a hip! It may not have been entirely necessary for these hits to be taken so, especially considering how the film turned out, but it lends for some very entertaining wrestling... something you don't necessarily get in films of this genre.

Peter Falk is solid as Harry, but his shtick does get a bit tired for me after awhile. Harry is a confusing character because at times he seems to really care about the Dolls but at other times he turns into a sleazeball. It really could have been fleshed out a little better than it was.

For fans of tits, there are quite a few on display here. It's piggish of me to bring this up, but fuck it! The women in the film are almost all attractive. This is also not what one may expect from women wrestlers from this era. Women "wrestlers" today are a completely different story as they are there first for looks and second for... um... acting ability? Certainly not their fucking wrestling skills. But having attractive women doing what they do well was great to see. You other pigs out there will get some sweaty cleavage, some tight swimsuit-style wrestling costumes, muddy bare tits, even a random shot of a lovely set of big bombs really only there for the sake of being on display. (And maybe showing Harry as being a bit sleazy)

Two large snapshots in a row, just for you, Mattsuzaka! (Chuck Norris Ate My Baby!)

Harry has an interesting line in the film before the women come out to embarrassingly perform in a mud wrestling match. "Every time you walk into the ring, you're a freak. That's what a wrestler is!" All the Marbles really should have stuck with the women struggling with this more than it did. As it stands, the film is a poorly edited and OK directed work. This was Robert Aldrich's (director of the classic The Dirty Dozen) last film before he died, and I am leaning toward the theory more and more as I write this that the film ended up not exactly being what his vision was.

It has its well shot, OK acted moments, but too much humor was attempted to be injected, ended up being too long despite feeling cut up at the same time.

Recommended for fans of the genre, particularly to see what could have been. I'd be interested to read the original screenplay.

Score: 5.75 / 10

If this shot doesn't encapsulate the film, I don't know what does. We could have had a slightly disturbing scene with this poor woman living with regrets for what she has done to further her career, but we get a wet tit shot thrown in with it. Ah well...

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