A biography of one of the greatest boxers, ”Gentleman Jim” Corbett, but not one that takes its subject too seriously; director Raoul Walsh tells the story of an upstart’s rise to the top vividly and with a great sense of humor. Errol Flynn is very charming as the boasting and manipulating bank clerk who gets a chance to put his talent for hurting people in the ring on display; along the way, Corbett also makes new, wealthy friends. The way he argues with Alexis Smith is entertaining and the star knows how to turn harsh words into punches. In the exciting fight near the end his character faces another famous champion, John L. Sullivan (a boisterous Ward Bond).
1942-U.S. 104 min. B/W. Produced by Robert Buckner. Directed by Raoul Walsh. Screenplay: Vincent Lawrence, Horace McCoy. Cast: Errol Flynn (James Corbett), Alexis Smith (Victoria Ware), Jack Carson (Walter Lowrie), Alan Hale, John Loder, William Frawley… Ward Bond.
Last word: “Ward Bond is always in character. This is about the guy… Ward Bond who played John L. Sullivan had to have known somebody who knew John. He was amazing. He was born ten years before John died, this guy, Ward Bond. In the movie (James L.) Corbett said, ‘Why don’t you fight Peter Jackson’ – that was a black fighter that he didn’t get the chance to fight due to the color line. [Sullivan refused to fight Jackson because he was black.] Bond says, ‘You fought Peter Jackson. You went 61 rounds. How long do you think Peter Jackson would last with me? 61 seconds!’ For me, that was just amazing. Then he came… and when he lost to Jim he bowed down so gracefully and gave the belt to him I started crying.” (Mike Tyson on why this is his favorite boxing movie, San Diego Reader)