The movie "the Wrestler" - hyped to the hills by the Apter rags back in the day - is pure camp pleasure. Ordinary aesthetic standards simply don't apply to something like this. This movie gives you a snapshot of what that enigmatic business professional wrestling was like back in the days of Bruno Sammartino, Verne Gagne and Dory Funk, Jr. The whole thing is preposterous, of course. Ray Stevens 'kills' a wrestler in the ring(accidentally, of course). Back in those days, the wrestlers wouldn't dare present pro wrestling as anything other than a 'legitimate' sport. Hence there is a considerable apologetic tone to this movie - speeches about how hard pro wrestling life is, how underpaid the talent is, etc. One gathers this comes from the heart. Fair enough. The film seems to be the product of Verne Gagne, who is presented as an aging good guy hanging on to the top. In spite of a couple of shaky moments in a training camp scene, Verne comes across as an actor better than one might think. The film also gives you the chance of seeing the legendary(and feared) Billy Robinson(who does the job in the final scene to Verne - what else?). Robinson's best moment as an actor here is when he's flirting with the secretary - I got a kick out of that. I was also amused and a little astounded to see Robinson demonstrate a 'hook' for the wrestling camp students in one scene. Can you spot it? As far as wrestlers go, the Texas Outlaws - Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdoch - steal the show with their campy bar brawl. Rhodes emerging from behind the bar, beers in hand with a great big grin is absolutely hilarious. The American Dream also cuts one hell of a promo at another point in this movie. Classic stuff. One also gets to see some legendary wrestling promoters, including Vince McMahon, Sr.(buddy of Toots Mondt and father of the Vince we all know and 'love'). In spite of the occasional humour, one gets the feeling they meant all this very seriously at the time. And that's what makes it camp. (Not, of course, that they don't have a point about the sometimes brutal existence of pro wrestlers, the bad pay, the lack of media coverage, etc.) Every now and then the director throws in a couple of 'arty' camera shots, too. Priceless. But the greatest camp pleasure is hearing the names 'Gotch' and 'Dibiase' tumble from the lips of Edward Asner. Asner plays his roll straight as a wrestling promoter. He does all that could be expected from here(including a romantic subplot!). I don't think anyone with zero interest in professional wrestling would enjoy this. Nevertheless, for those attuned to its wavelength, it does offer its camp pleasures. And it furthermore provides a snapshot of the business in the seventies. And it's just plain an oddity that deserves attention for those with a taste for oddities. (I idly wonder if John Waters has a copy of this.) My only serious reservation is that the film seemed to be building towards a Super Bowl of Professional Wrestling. Of course, it doesn't get there. That, as they say in the business, is a swerve. In spite of this minor disappointment, I recommend this film for those with an interest in the biz. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a shoot. Yrs. Truly, Greg Cameron in Surrey, B.C., Canada.