Sunday, August 16, 2015

Inspiration: Route 66's Wrestling Episode

Route 66 “A Feat of Strength”

Route 66 featured a lot of fighting. Well, it also included an entire episode with a pro wrestling theme. It was the episode “A Feat of Strength”, a Tod solo adventure and it’s on Hulu (and probably other places, if you’re not in the US).

Tod enters the ring

With the unseen Buz in the hospital fighting a mysterious virus, Tod (Martin Milner) goes it alone as the assistant to a hard-nosed wrestling promoter. The story revolves around a love triangle between a wrestler named Sandor (Jack Warden), his wife Eva and the promoter.

The promoter loves Eva, but she loves Sandor, who has been imprisoned back in their home country of Hungary for the past five years. To get Sandor freed, Eva commits Sandor to work for the promoter, even signing a contract that Sandor will do whatever the promoter asks of him. While the promoter admits that the deal isn’t legal, he counts on the wrestler’s pride to keep him in line.

The Russian learns to sell
Sandor was a champion back home, but his rival for his wife’s love has other ideas. As the popular Hungarian Freedom Fighter, Sandor will be relegated to the role of loser, falling to their Russian wrestler over and over.

Sandor is tormented by his predicament. He has a long soliloquy while re-enacting a past match he had when he was champ. Tod reminds him of his French opponent and Sandor runs through how it all went down.

Tod locks up with Sandor
Tod plays along
Tod wonders what he's gotten into 
Sandor sums up his situation (while cradling an injured Tod in his arms), “Was champion. Now must be clown. Was man. Now must be monkey. Must be. Must be.” However, he then adds, “I don’t think I can.”

Poor Tod
And so, it all culminates in a wrestling match where must decide if he’s going to obey and lose to the Russian or rebel against the promoter.

The Russian
What will he do?
Will Sandor accept his role as jobber? 
Or will he submit the Russian? 
Jack Warden’s body double doesn’t really hold up on large hi def TV's, but on a 12-inch black and white in 1962, he might have looked close enough. However, he looks pretty good, so I’m willing to suspend disbelief.

I pulled some clips with the most relevant to wrestling parts.

Sandor’s first meeting with the promoter …

Tod in the ring with a reflective Sandor …

The big finale match …

So, if you watched it, what do you think of Route 66’s big wrestling episode? Were you moved? Were you bored? Please let me know in the comments!



  1. When I was very very young!!!, I use to watch Route 66 on TV. I don't remember this specific episode. When I travel to the States to Florida and I am on Route 66, I always think of this TV show.


    1. Thanks for the comment. I've wanted to drive Route 66 from Chicago, but probably not as far as LA. I don't think I have that kind of time, but it seems like something to do.

      It's interesting that the series didn't really travel Route 66, but maybe it was too limiting. I tried to give a nod to the road Route 66 by sending the guys from Joliet IL through Missouri all the way to LA at the start of season 2.