Gentleman Jim (1942)

104 mins | Biography | 14 November 1942

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Producer:

Robert Buckner

Cinematographer:

Sid Hickox

Editor:

Jack Killifer

Production Designer:

Ted Smith

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

James John Corbett became world heavyweight boxing champion on 17 Mar 1897 when he knocked out John L. Sullivan in twenty-one rounds. He was the first successful fighter to use the Marquis of Queensberry rules. Good looks and a scientific method of boxing earned him the nickname "Gentleman Jim." After he quit boxing in 1903, Corbett starred in several plays, including Gentleman Jack and The Naval Lieutenant , and movies (see index to AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ). In 1886 Corbett married actress Olive Lake, and after their divorce, he married Jessie Taylor of Omaha. He died on 18 Feb 1933. Several reviews note discrepancies between the film Gentleman Jim and the actual events of Corbett's life. The Var review states:"...the heavyweight champ was a self-effacing, quiet personality so distinctly apart from the general run of mugg fighters of that day that the 'gentleman' tag was a natural....[He] was a revered member of the Olympic club to the very end.... Corbett fought most of his battles bareknuckle...and he first met Sullivan in a friendly sparring match at the Olympic club some years before their championship battle....Sullivan hated Corbett...[and] never gave Corbett his championship belt--that had been in the hock shops long before their battle...."
       A 31 May 1940 HR news item notes that three major studios were interested in the screen rights to James J. Corbett's autobiography, which was previously serialized in SEP from 11 Oct--25 Nov 1924. Other HR news items add the following information about the production: Technical advisor Ed Cochrane was the sports editor of the ... More Less

James John Corbett became world heavyweight boxing champion on 17 Mar 1897 when he knocked out John L. Sullivan in twenty-one rounds. He was the first successful fighter to use the Marquis of Queensberry rules. Good looks and a scientific method of boxing earned him the nickname "Gentleman Jim." After he quit boxing in 1903, Corbett starred in several plays, including Gentleman Jack and The Naval Lieutenant , and movies (see index to AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ). In 1886 Corbett married actress Olive Lake, and after their divorce, he married Jessie Taylor of Omaha. He died on 18 Feb 1933. Several reviews note discrepancies between the film Gentleman Jim and the actual events of Corbett's life. The Var review states:"...the heavyweight champ was a self-effacing, quiet personality so distinctly apart from the general run of mugg fighters of that day that the 'gentleman' tag was a natural....[He] was a revered member of the Olympic club to the very end.... Corbett fought most of his battles bareknuckle...and he first met Sullivan in a friendly sparring match at the Olympic club some years before their championship battle....Sullivan hated Corbett...[and] never gave Corbett his championship belt--that had been in the hock shops long before their battle...."
       A 31 May 1940 HR news item notes that three major studios were interested in the screen rights to James J. Corbett's autobiography, which was previously serialized in SEP from 11 Oct--25 Nov 1924. Other HR news items add the following information about the production: Technical advisor Ed Cochrane was the sports editor of the Chicago Herald-American and an authority on James Corbett. Some scenes were filmed on location at the Baldwin Estate in Santa Anita, CA. A press release in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library announces the casting of Phil Silvers, but he does not appear in the film. A NYT article dated 31 May 1942 identifies Mushy Callahan, former junior welterweight champion, as one of Errol Flynn's trainers. According to information included in the file on the film at the USC Cinema-Television Library, Callahan also doubled for Errol Flynn in some of the shots showing "Corbett's" fancy footwork, although his name never appears in the daily production reports. Other information in the Warner Bros. Collection reveals that Lewis Milestone turned down an offer to direct the film because he did not like the script. Director Raoul Walsh wanted Barry Fitzgerald to play "Corbett's" father and was interested in either Ann Sheridan or Rita Hayworth for the role of "Vicki." Actors Mike Mazurki and Ed "Strangler" Lewis had been professional wrestlers. Shortly after the film's release, Flynn went on trial for statutory rape. Flynn was acquitted, and the highly publicized case apparently did not adversely affect his career. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Nov 1942.
---
Daily Variety
30 Oct 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
30 Oct 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 42
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
31 Oct 42
p. 981.
New York Times
31 May 1942.
---
New York Times
26 Nov 42
p. 40.
Variety
4 Nov 42
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Dorothy Vaughn
Carl Harbough
William Davidson
Bud McCallister
Joe Crehan
Charles Lang
De Wolf Hopper
Milt Kibbee
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mont
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Errol Flynn's trainer
STAND INS
Double for Errol Flynn
Double for Errol Flynn
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book The Roar of the Crowd by James J. Corbett (Garden City, NY, 1925).
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 November 1942
Production Date:
20 May--23 July 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 November 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11685
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
104
Length(in feet):
9,385
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

In San Francisco, in 1887, an illegal boxing match is broken up by the police. Among those caught in the raid are two young bank employees, Jim Corbett and Walter Lowrie, and Judge Geary, a member of the bank's board of directors. Upset because boxing's bad reputation has resulted in a ban on the sport, Geary announces that as a member of the Olympic Club, he will arrange for matches involving young men from good families to be held there. The next day, when they see Geary enter the bank, Jim and Walter are convinced they are about to lose their jobs, but Geary is actually there to thank Jim for the story he told in court to explain their presence at the fight. When Victoria Ware, the daughter of Buck Ware, another Olympic Club member, comes to the bank to get a supply of coins for her poker-playing father, Jim insists on accompanying her back to the club. There he talks Vicki into giving him a tour of the club and having lunch with him. In the gym, Jim does a little boxing and so impresses the trainer that he is proposed for membership. Jim, whose father drives a hackney cab and whose brothers are longshoremen, becomes self-important after his election into the club. The other members, offended by his egotistical behavior, set up a match between Jim and Jack Burke, a former British heavyweight champion. To everyone's surprise, Jim's fancy footwork and quick punches win the match. At the ball afterward, a drunken Walter is asked to leave the club, and out of loyalty, Jim leaves with him. The ... +


In San Francisco, in 1887, an illegal boxing match is broken up by the police. Among those caught in the raid are two young bank employees, Jim Corbett and Walter Lowrie, and Judge Geary, a member of the bank's board of directors. Upset because boxing's bad reputation has resulted in a ban on the sport, Geary announces that as a member of the Olympic Club, he will arrange for matches involving young men from good families to be held there. The next day, when they see Geary enter the bank, Jim and Walter are convinced they are about to lose their jobs, but Geary is actually there to thank Jim for the story he told in court to explain their presence at the fight. When Victoria Ware, the daughter of Buck Ware, another Olympic Club member, comes to the bank to get a supply of coins for her poker-playing father, Jim insists on accompanying her back to the club. There he talks Vicki into giving him a tour of the club and having lunch with him. In the gym, Jim does a little boxing and so impresses the trainer that he is proposed for membership. Jim, whose father drives a hackney cab and whose brothers are longshoremen, becomes self-important after his election into the club. The other members, offended by his egotistical behavior, set up a match between Jim and Jack Burke, a former British heavyweight champion. To everyone's surprise, Jim's fancy footwork and quick punches win the match. At the ball afterward, a drunken Walter is asked to leave the club, and out of loyalty, Jim leaves with him. The next morning, Jim and Walter, painfully hungover, wake up in Salt Lake City. To earn the money to return to San Francisco, Jim boxes in a professional match and wins. With the help of manager Delaney, Jim turns professional and continues to win his fights. His successful fight against Joe Choynski takes place on a barge in an attempt to circumvent the laws which prohibit prizefights. Because of his elegant fighting style, and his penchant for fancy evening clothes, Jim is nicknamed "Gentleman Jim." Now that he is earning a lot of money, Jim moves his family to Nob Hill. Although Jim is attracted to Vicki, she dislikes his airs so much that she is eager to see him fail. In 1892, when Jim needs $10,000 to challenge heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan, Vicki anonymously puts up the money, hoping that Sullivan will knock the pride out of Jim. On the night of the fight, Vicki is in the audience to boo Jim, but he again resorts to his fancy footwork and, at the end of twenty-one rounds, wins the championship. Even Vicki cheers the result, but she makes fun of Jim by buying him a huge hat to fit his swelled head. Sullivan comes to Jim's victory party to present him with his championship belt. They speak graciously of each other, and Jim expresses his deep appreciation of Sullivan's skills and place in history. Vicki is impressed with Jim's sensitivity and confesses that she loves him. When he proposes, she accepts. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.