Ringside Cinema

The Big Show-Off (1945)

A screwball romantic comedy wrestling movie that fails at all of those descriptions.

IMG_6198The Storyline
Sandy Elliot is an uptight weenie who thinks he’s above pro wrestling. There’s nothing about him that makes you want to root for him. Even when Sandy talks it’s annoying as hell. Also, he’s a stalker. He plays the piano at his friend Joe Bagley’s club, where his love interest, June Mayfield, also sings at. Joe is of the “why I oughtta” variety type of mobster-sounding guys. I have no idea why he’s friends with Sandy. Or why he takes an interest in helping Sandy get June to like him.

After creepily following her to a wrestling match and seeing her go crazy for the wrestlers, Sandy can’t believe that June would be into pro wrestling. What a snob. Joe reasons that she’s “muscle nuts”, which I guess was the old-timey term for body mark. For whatever reason, while talking to June, Joe tells her that Sandy is really the masked wrestler she was watching, The Devil. Sandy denies it at first but goes along with it once she starts making googly eyes at him. The problem is June is also seeing this older guy named Wally Porter, but fuck it she doesn’t care, especially now that she thinks that Sandy is a pro wrestler and can defend himself from old-man Wally.

The Devil breaks his leg during a match and Sandy maintains kayfabe by pretending to have a broken leg as well. June wants Sandy to quit wrestling and never go back to it again, which is great news for him, but the actual Devil ends up making a comeback. After his return match, The Devil, despite being a heel, decides to announce his engagement to his long-time girlfriend, which messes up Sandy’s plans even more.

IMG_6222Later that same night, The Devil assaults some random guy for harassing his fiancée. The news report states that nobody knows the real identity of The Devil. Wally, having been told by June that Sandy is The Devil, decides to rat out Sandy to the cops. All seems lost, until the cop interrogating Sandy simply tells him if he confesses by claiming he acted out of jealousy that he’ll get off with a small fine. What the actual fuck? Man, being a white person in America back in the 1940’s must’ve been the best.

A guy named Mr. Peabody who represents the Wrestler’s Association, which would never actually exist in a million years, explains to Sandy if he confesses he’ll be barred from the ring forever. Naturally, Sandy owns up to the crime and The Devil is no longer able to wrestle. Cut to the last scene in which Sandy is sitting next to June ringside and in love, enjoying a match that we’ll never see. So, he either came clean to her about not being The Devil, or gave her some excuse as to why some other lady was introduced as his fiancée and not her. I’m pretty sure he went with the latter seeing as June would be more likely to forgive him for supposedly sleeping around, than for not being a wrestler. The gal’s muscle nuts, after all.

The Wrestling
There’s really nothing to say about the wrestling because there’s really nothing to see. The movie will show the grapplers inside the ring, but then throughout the entire match we’re just treated to the main characters of the film conversing in their seats or reacting to the match. The Devil fights Boris the Bulgar at least twice during the movie, but we never see any of it. Not even a damn headlock.

You would think that considering they went through the trouble of setting up a ring and faking a crowd they would go through with an actual wrestling match. You’re telling me they couldn’t get some carny journeymen to throw down for a minute or two? I sat through an hour of this movie, although after minute 15 I started fast forwarding through parts, to review some wrestling and all I got was before and after shots of some wannabe wrestlers in the ring. It didn’t help that this movie was terrible. It Happened One Night it ain’t.

The Wrestlers
Considering nobody wrestled, I’m pretty sure no actual wrestlers were used in the making of this film.
Star Rating: *1/2

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