The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933)

90 or 102-103 mins | Romance | 10 November 1933

Director:

W. S. Van Dyke

Cinematographer:

Lester White

Editor:

Robert J. Kern

Production Designers:

Fredric Hope, David Townsend

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

A working title of this film was The Broadway Racket . According to a modern interview with Myrna Loy, another working title was The Sailor and the Lady . For Canadian distribution, the film's title was changed to The Conquering Sex . According to a Jan 1934 HR news item, the title was changed because M-G-M was concerned that the original title might frighten away women viewers. Professional heavyweight boxer Max Baer made his screen debut in the film. At the time of the film's production, Primo Carnera, who also made his screen debut in the picture, was the world's heavyweight boxing champion. Baer was considered the main contender for Carnera's crown, and in 1934, he defeated Carnera for the title. Var notes that Carnera refused to be knocked out at the end of the film and agreed to the draw decision in the script only after the studio added an extra $10,000 to his $35,000 salary. HR notes that Baer was "mutilated" for the first time in his two-year boxing career when he had two teeth knocked out during a staged fight. According to the modern interview with Myrna Loy, Baer studied Carnera's boxing techniques during the filming and later used this "scouting" information to beat Carnera. In Mar 1934, DV announced that the picture had been banned in Germany because Baer was Jewish.
       An Aug 1933 HR news item notes that Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed were writing songs for the picture, but the film's only song is credited to David L. Snell. A May 1933 HR ... More Less

A working title of this film was The Broadway Racket . According to a modern interview with Myrna Loy, another working title was The Sailor and the Lady . For Canadian distribution, the film's title was changed to The Conquering Sex . According to a Jan 1934 HR news item, the title was changed because M-G-M was concerned that the original title might frighten away women viewers. Professional heavyweight boxer Max Baer made his screen debut in the film. At the time of the film's production, Primo Carnera, who also made his screen debut in the picture, was the world's heavyweight boxing champion. Baer was considered the main contender for Carnera's crown, and in 1934, he defeated Carnera for the title. Var notes that Carnera refused to be knocked out at the end of the film and agreed to the draw decision in the script only after the studio added an extra $10,000 to his $35,000 salary. HR notes that Baer was "mutilated" for the first time in his two-year boxing career when he had two teeth knocked out during a staged fight. According to the modern interview with Myrna Loy, Baer studied Carnera's boxing techniques during the filming and later used this "scouting" information to beat Carnera. In Mar 1934, DV announced that the picture had been banned in Germany because Baer was Jewish.
       An Aug 1933 HR news item notes that Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed were writing songs for the picture, but the film's only song is credited to David L. Snell. A May 1933 HR news item states that Josef von Sternberg was first slated to direct the picture, with Joan Crawford, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone as the stars. By 1 Jun 1933, production was halted so that Crawford could start work on M-G-M's The Dancing Lady . On 5 Jun 1933, von Sternberg, who was in disagreement with writer Carey Wilson, who reportedly was working on a screen treatment, asked to be released from the project. According to an Aug 1933 FD news item, W. S. Van Dyke became the director after the exit of Howard Hawks, who initially was assigned to the film after von Sternberg. While Hawks was assigned to the film, Elissa Landi was under consideration for the film's "other female lead," and Mae Clarke was suggested as a possible leading lady, according to Aug 1933 HR news items. Although MPH 's "In the Cutting Room" states that M-G-M stars Lionel Barrymore, Jean Hersholt, Lupe Velez and Johnny Weissmuller were to appear as extras in the final boxing sequence, they were not spotted in the viewed print. MPH gives the running time as 68 minutes, but this time is most likely an error.
       According to a modern interview with director Howard Hawks, the original story, on which Hawks claims he worked, was written with Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in mind. Gable was supposed to play a mature, stable character, while Harlow was to be a sexy dimwit. When Baer and Loy were cast, Hawks wanted out of the project but was persuaded to start the production for Van Dyke and help Baer with his acting. Writer John Lee Mahin apparently disputes Hawks's claims, saying in the same modern source that Hawks was fired after two days of shooting because he was working too slowly. For his work on the film, Frances Marion received an Academy Award nomination in the Writing (Original Story) category. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Oct 33
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Mar 34
p. 15.
Film Daily
31 Aug 33
p. 8.
Film Daily
16 Oct 33
p. 8.
Film Daily
4 Nov 33
p. 4.
HF
2 Sep 33
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 34
p. 9.
Motion Picture Herald
14 Oct 33
p. 46.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Oct 33
p. 55.
New York Times
11 Nov 33
p. 11.
Variety
14 Nov 33
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A W. S. Van Dyke Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Ward
SOUND
Rec dir
DANCE
Vaudeville sketch
STAND INS
Singing double for Myrna Loy
SOURCES
SONGS
"'Cause I'm Just a Downstream Drifter," words and music by David Snell.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Broadway Racket
The Conquering Sex
Release Date:
10 November 1933
Production Date:
early Sep--mid Oct 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
6 November 1933
Copyright Number:
LP4291
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90 or 102-103
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

After hard-drinking Edwin J. Bennett, a washed-up boxing manager who calls himself "Professer," sees Steve Morgan, a strapping sailor, knock out a drunk in a bar, he arranges for him to fight in a bout with a one-hundred dollar purse. To the Professor's surprise, Steve defeats his more experienced opponent in the match's first round. Sure that the egotistical Steve is the stuff of champions, the Professor stops his own drinking and orders the sailor to begin a rigorous training program in the country. While running with the Professor, Steve witnesses an automobile accident and rescues beautiful Belle Mercer from an overturned car. Steve takes the unconscious Belle to a nearby farmhouse and nurses her until she is steady enough to leave. Grateful for Steve's help, Belle accepts his invitation to his next boxing match but, after the bout, declines to see him again. From the Professor, who warns him against romantic distractions of any sort, Steve learns that Belle is the longtime girl friend of notorious gambler Willie Ryan. Steve follows Belle to Ryan's nightclub, where Belle is a singer, and boldly presents himself as a romantic rival. Although Belle assures Ryan that she is not seriously interested in Steve, she is unable to turn him away when he follows her to her apartment and professes his love. A few days later, Belle announces to Ryan that she and Steve have married. Heartbroken and stunned, Ryan blesses the marriage but tells his trigger-happy bodyguard, Adopted Son, that if Steve ever were to make Belle unhappy, he would kill him. Belle then convinces the suspicious Professor of her sincere love for ... +


After hard-drinking Edwin J. Bennett, a washed-up boxing manager who calls himself "Professer," sees Steve Morgan, a strapping sailor, knock out a drunk in a bar, he arranges for him to fight in a bout with a one-hundred dollar purse. To the Professor's surprise, Steve defeats his more experienced opponent in the match's first round. Sure that the egotistical Steve is the stuff of champions, the Professor stops his own drinking and orders the sailor to begin a rigorous training program in the country. While running with the Professor, Steve witnesses an automobile accident and rescues beautiful Belle Mercer from an overturned car. Steve takes the unconscious Belle to a nearby farmhouse and nurses her until she is steady enough to leave. Grateful for Steve's help, Belle accepts his invitation to his next boxing match but, after the bout, declines to see him again. From the Professor, who warns him against romantic distractions of any sort, Steve learns that Belle is the longtime girl friend of notorious gambler Willie Ryan. Steve follows Belle to Ryan's nightclub, where Belle is a singer, and boldly presents himself as a romantic rival. Although Belle assures Ryan that she is not seriously interested in Steve, she is unable to turn him away when he follows her to her apartment and professes his love. A few days later, Belle announces to Ryan that she and Steve have married. Heartbroken and stunned, Ryan blesses the marriage but tells his trigger-happy bodyguard, Adopted Son, that if Steve ever were to make Belle unhappy, he would kill him. Belle then convinces the suspicious Professor of her sincere love for Steve and agrees to postpone their honeymoon until his training is complete. While Steve wins a series of boxing matches, the box office success of which is fuelled in part by Belle's notoriety, he also wins the attention of many admiring women. Although Ryan warns her about Steve's philandering, Belle insists that his flirtations are harmless and dedicates herself to becoming a more loving wife. However, when Belle catches Steve in an obvious lie, she confronts him with his infidelity and threatens to divorce him if he strays again. Steve vows to remain faithful, but just before he is to box in the heavyweight championship bout, he finds himself performing in a vaudeville revue with a row of pretty chorus girls. When Belle finds one of the chorus girls in Steve's dressing room, she denounces him and returns to Ryan and his nightclub. Determined to put Steve out of Belle's life, Ryan invests $25,000 in the championship bout and, to over-inflate Steve's already enormous ego, bets heavily in his favor. In spite of the match's frantic publicity, Steve sinks into a depression and, in a drunken rage, fires the Professor. Without Belle and the Professor's support, Steve falters through the first rounds of the Madison Square bout with heavyweight champion Primo Carnera. When, however, both the Professor and Belle pledge their support from the stands, Steve regains his drive and battles Carnera to a draw. Seeing that Belle still loves Steve, Ryan finally releases her to him and gives his unconditional blessing to their rejunevated union. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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