“Diggstown” (1992)

The film “Diggstown” begins in a prison in Georgia. Two prisoners are involved in a fight. The person who put the fight together as a distraction to divert the attention of the guards is Gabriel Caine. The character is portrayed by Golden Globe and two time Emmy winner James Woods (Promise). Caine organized the fight because he was paid a large sum of money to help break a prisoner out. Fortunately for Caine, even though Warden Bates (Marshall Bell) suspects he is up to no good, he can’t prove it. Caine is set to be released in less than a week’s time.

Upon his release, Caine travels to Diggstown. The town is named after local boxing legend Charles Macum Diggs (Wilhelm von Hamburg) who, thanks to foul play, is now relegated to using a wheelchair and can no longer speak. Caine chose the location because of his cellmate, Walt Forrester (Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb). Walt came from the town and told Caine the town’s history. (As an aside: Cobb was a former Heavyweight boxing contender. Furthermore, fans of the movie Ghostbusters II might recognize Wilhelm von Hamburg as Vigo from the film).

Caine is a con man and he is in Diggstown to set up a big score, but he can’t do it alone. Fitz played by four time Emmy nominee Oliver Platt (Huff) is already in town. He has laid the groundwork for betting by hustling the locals. At the same time, Caine attempts to rope in the town’s largest landowner, the unscrupulous businessman John Gillon. The part of Gillon is acted by two time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska).

Caine manages to get Gillon to commit to a seemingly outlandish bet. The wager is that Caine has a boxer, who will be able to beat ten men, who reside in the town and or county Diggstown is located in. His boxer will not only beat the men, but do so, within a twenty-four hour period. The wager is sizable and continues to increase as the film progresses.

Caine’s boxer Honey Ray Palmer portrayed by Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman), is a former powerhouse. The problem is, Palmer is forty-eight years of age and is not in fighting shape. Palmer is initially motivated to once again try and come out on top in the boxing ring. He is upset with his current financial situation. Palmer doesn’t like where he lives and he wants to be able to move himself and his wife (Cyndi James Gossett) to a nicer place. Secondly, he learned the truth about what happened to fellow boxer Charles Macum Diggs.

Will Caine be able to get one over on the duplicitous Gillon? Can Palmer get in fighting shape? What tricks does Caine use to attempt to ensure victory? Likewise, what underhanded tactics will Gillon utilize to try and win the bet? All of those questions and more will be answered by the conclusion of the film.

“Diggstown” was directed by Emmy nominee Michael Ritchie (The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom). The screenplay was written by Steven McKay (Hard to Kill) based on the novel “The Diggstown Ringers” written by Leonard Wise. The book was published by Doubleday on January 1, 1978. Parts drama and sport, the film has a runtime of 98 minutes. The original title for the film, which was released on August 14, 1992, was “Midnight Sting.” In addition to the aforementioned cast members, Heather Graham (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) plays Emily Forrester, Walt’s sister. Furthermore, Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest) has a small part in the film as boxer Billy Hargrove.

I’ve known about this film for many years, but until recently I never watched it. When it was made available for streaming on Amazon Prime a few weeks ago, I added it to my list and sat down to watch it several nights ago. The cast alone was intriguing enough to get me to invest my time in the movie. The film was well executed. The story held my interest. The cast as a whole played their parts well, without a false performance among them. I’d recommend this film to fans of the cast, for viewers who like sports films that contain boxing, and movies that keep a viewer guessing as to if the con can be pulled off.

About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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