This B-level comedy starred Vince Edwards as Tommy Tomkins, a bodybuilding championship winner who is led by a con man (played by Jack Carson) to become a professional wrestler. All goes well for Tommy at first, as his athleticism helps him rise to the top of the wrestling world. But when thugs try to force him to throw matches, Tommy becomes disillusioned with the wrestling world and tries to maintain his integrity.
“Mr. Universe” is a strange thing. cheapjack Made on an apparently low budget at Eagle-Lion Studios, the film managed to include an A-list cast including Carson, Janice Page as his girlfriend, Burt Lahr as Tommy’s manager, Robert Alda as a match-fixing mobster and Robert Alda. Maxie Rosenbloom as Tommy’s trainer.
For students of wrestling history, “Mr. Universe” is notable for guest appearances by many of the era’s top-name wrestlers: Chief Flying Mare, The Missing Link, Gorilla Hogan, Newton the Teuton, Delightful Dave, Gregorovich the Magnificent and The Hoboken Turk with Dennis James. Appeared with one of the leading ringside announcers of the era.
The comedy in “Mr. Universe” is of a Damon Runyon picaresque nature, with Carson and Lahr doing most of the comic heavy lifting. It was Edwards’ first starring role, but comedy was not his forte, and the film did not secure him any degree of name recognition – that would come 10 years later when he played the title role in the popular TV series “Ben Casey”. ” The future comedy star was also on the screen – a young Joan Rivers was an extra, although she was not clearly visible to the viewer.