★★★★1/2 October 4, 1963 Season 5 Episode 2
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.
Steel is very good starring the movie star…Lee Marvin.
This episode has a parallel to the NFL in present day to me. With CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy), football as I knew it is gone. In 20 years it probably won’t resemble the game now. Steel is set in 1974 and boxing between humans is illegal. It was deemed as too dangerous and now robots fight each other intead of humans.
Lee Marvin plays Steel Kelly who was a former boxer until the law was passed to ban human boxing. He now owns an older model robot (an old B2) named Battling Maxo. Marvin is a determined, sad, and desparate character. He believes in his outdated fighter and will do anything to keep the broken down Maxo going…including doing the unthinkable.
Marvin’s gritty performance brings this episode up above normal ones. Taking the place of the boxing trainer would be mechanic Pole…played by Joe Mantell. He keeps Maxo going but knows the robot is washed up and busted. He wants to scrap him but Steel won’t hear of it…they keep looking for parts that just aren’t made anymore.
The two robot faces were crafted by William Tuttle. Lifemasks were taken of the actors, atop which the robot faces were sculpted in clay. Foam rubber and latex copies were cast of these, which were then glued onto the actors faces. As for the inhuman, expressionless eyes, those were sections of ping-pong balls, painted black, with pinpoint eye holes through the center.
This show was written by Rod Serling and Richard Matheson
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
Sports item, circa 1974: Battling Maxo, B2, heavyweight, accompanied by his manager and handler, arrives in Maynard, Kansas, for a scheduled six-round bout. Battling Maxo is a robot, or, to be exact, an android, definition: ‘an automaton resembling a human being.’ Only these automatons have been permitted in the ring since prizefighting was legally abolished in 1968. This is the story of that scheduled six-round bout, more specifically the story of two men shortly to face that remorseless truth: that no law can be passed which will abolish cruelty or desperate need—nor, for that matter, blind animal courage. Location for the facing of said truth: a small, smoke-filled arena just this side of the Twilight Zone.
In the not too distant future, boxing has been banned and replaced by robot fighters in the ring. Sam “Steel” Kelly is a former boxer but now owns one of these pugilistic machines. Unfortunately his robot, which he’s named Battling Maxo, is getting old and many of its parts are no longer available. Kelly is broke and is doing everything he can to ensure Battling Maxo can enter the ring as the promoter has made it clear there’s no payment if there’s no bout. When Maxo breaks down however, Kelly decides to takes its place.
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
Portrait of a losing side, proof positive that you can’t outpunch machinery. Proof also of something else: that no matter what the future brings, man’s capacity to rise to the occasion will remain unaltered. His potential for tenacity and optimism continues, as always, to outfight, outpoint and outlive any and all changes made by his society, for which three cheers and a unanimous decision rendered from the Twilight Zone.
Sorry I could NOT find a video clip without a reviewer. He does give it away…just so you know.
Rod Serling…Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Lee Marvin…Steel Kelly
Chuck Hicks…Maynard Flash
Larry Barton…Boxing Match Spectator (voice) (uncredited)
Slim Bergman…Boxing Match Spectator (uncredited)
Louis Cavalier…Boxing Match Spectator (uncredited)
Ken DuMain…Boxing Match Spectator (uncredited)
Tipp McClure…Battling Maxo (uncredited)
Edwin Rochelle…Boxing Match Spectator (uncredited)