Gentleman Jim (film)
1942 Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Raoul Walsh|
|Produced by||Robert Buckner|
|Written by||James J. Corbett (book)
|Music by||Heinz Roemheld|
|Edited by||Jack Killifer|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||104 minutes|
Gentleman Jim is a 1942 film starring Errol Flynn as heavyweight boxing champion James J. Corbett (1866-1933). The supporting cast includes Alexis Smith, Jack Carson, Alan Hale, William Frawley, and Ward Bond. The movie was based upon Corbett's autobiography, The Roar of the Crowd, and directed by Raoul Walsh. James John Corbett became world heavyweight boxing champion on March 17, 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.
In 1890s San Francisco, boxing is illegal. James J. Corbett (Errol Flynn), a brash young bank teller, attends a match with his friend Walter Lowrie (Jack Carson). When a police raid nets Judge Geary, a member of the board of directors of Corbett's bank, Corbett's fast talking gets his superior out of trouble. The judge is looking to improve the image of boxing by recruiting men from more respectable backgrounds and having them fight under the Marquess of Queensberry rules. He has even imported British coach Harry Watson (Rhys Williams) to evaluate prospects. Watson finds that Corbett, raised in a combative Irish immigrant family headed by Pat Corbett (Alan Hale), has excellent fighting skills; Geary likes his protégé's seemingly-polished manner.
However, Corbett's arrogance irritates many of the upper class, particularly Victoria Ware (Alexis Smith). They clash frequently, but Corbett is attracted to her, and his limitless self-confidence and charm eventually overcome her distaste for him.
Meanwhile, Corbett becomes a professional prizefighter. He acquires a manager, Billy Delaney (William Frawley), and introduces a new, more sophisticated style of boxing, emphasizing footwork over the unscientific brawling epitomized by world champion John L. Sullivan (Ward Bond). After winning several matches, Corbett finally gets the opportunity to take on the great man. Corbett's method of boxing baffles Sullivan, and Corbett wins not only the title, but also Victoria.
Corbett is crowned as the new Heavyweight Champion. His victory party is unexpectedly interrupted by the defeated Sullivan, who has come to personally bestow the championship belt to Corbett.
- Errol Flynn as James J. Corbett. This film was one of Flynn's own personal favorites.
- Alexis Smith as Victoria Ware
- Jack Carson as Walter Lowrie
- Alan Hale as Pat Corbett
- John Loder as Carlton De Witt
- William Frawley as Bill Delaney
- Minor Watson as Buck Ware
- Ward Bond as John L. Sullivan
- Madeleine LeBeau as Anna Held
- Rhys Williams as Harry Watson
- Arthur Shields as Father Burke
- Hal Craig character actor
In his somewhat unreliable 'autobiography' My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Flynn details how he suffered a mild heart attack while making this movie. Flynn took the role seriously, and was rarely doubled during the boxing sequences. The role was one of his favourites. Alexis Smith recounted in the biography, The Two Lives of Errol Flynn by Michael Freedland, how she took the star aside and told him, "'It's so silly, working all day and then playing all night and dissipating yourself. Don't you want to live a long life?' Errol was his usually apparently unconcerned self: 'I'm only interested in this half,' he told her. 'I don't care for the future.'"
This was the third Errol Flynn movie to gross at least $2 million for the brothers Warner in 1942 according to Variety.
- Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer * Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 116-117
- Gentleman Jim at the TCM Movie Database
- Gentleman Jim at the Internet Movie Database
- Gentleman Jim at AllMovie