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   August 30, 2014



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Blood & Guts (1978)
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


William Smith, Micheline Lanctot and Brian Clarke

Starring: William Smith, Micheline Lanctot, Henry Beckman, Brian Clarke
Written by: William Gray, John Hunter, Joseph McBride
Directed by: Paul Lynch Paul Lynch's directing career began with The Hard Part Begins and Blood & Guts, films that fit into the landscape of 1970s Canadian films that told of hard-luck characters in bittersweet stories. In Blood & Guts, aging wrestler Danny O'Neil (William Smith) exemplifies the type of character that audiences wanted to see: not only is his time in the work he loves running out, but like so may of us in similar situations, he is hard-pressed to come to terms with his impending retirement.

The story in Blood & Guts is striking for one underlying reason: it is an open account of the nature of staged matches and pre-determined outcomes, which in 1978 is surprising. The story follows the parallel but opposing paths of O'Neil as his wrestling days come to and end, and a young man named Jim Davenport (Brian Clarke) who finds himself on the brink of a promising wrestling career. O'Neil and Davenport strike up a bond that's a mixture of mentor/protégé, rivals for one woman's affections, and ultimately partners trying to stave off a nefarious promoter attempting to run their own organization out of business.

"Pat, predictable film about a wrestling troupe and the young tyro who joins it," reviewed Leonard Maltin.

As for the actual wrestling scenes? Williamsmith.org, a wesbite dedicated to his TV and film career, notes that "although it centers on a wrestling troupe and displays a lot of good wrestling moves, it's very tame by modern flashy wrestling standards". That may be the case, but in a film where the action in the ring exists to supplement the story and not the other way around, the wrestling is as good and effective as it has to be.

RELATED LINKS

  • Feature: Hamilton runs through Blood & Guts
  • Toronto Sun review: Blood & Guts has half nelson on heroism

    Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and can be emailed at hillhouse_slam@hotmail.ca -- SLAM! Wrestling.