LIFE OF JIMMY DOLAN, THE
(director: Archie Mayo; screenwriters: from the play Bertram Millhauser and Beulah Marie Dix/David Boehm/Erwin S. Gelsey; cinematographer: Arthur Edeson; editor: Herbert I. Leeds; music: Cliff Hess; cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Jimmy Dolan), Loretta Young (Peggy), Aline MacMahon (Auntie), Guy Kibbee (Phlaxer), Lyle Talbot (Doc Wood), Fifi D?Orsay (Budgie), John Wayne (Smith), Mickey Rooney (Freckles), George Meeker (Magee), Shirley Grey (Goldie West), Sammy Stein (King Cobra); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal B. Wallis; Warner Bros.; 1933)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It was remade as They Made Me A Criminal in 1939 by Busby Berkeley. Director Archie Mayo (“The Petreified Forest”/”Four Sons”/”A Night in Casablanca”)keeps it fast-paced, its best asset. The boxing scenes were dreadful. It’s based onthe play by Bertram Millhauser and Beulah Marie Dix and written by David Boehm and Erwin S. Gelsey.
After winning the boxing championship in NYC Jimmy Dolan (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), wishing to keep-up his phony squeaky-clean image, tells the press he will spend a quiet evening with his fictitious mom. Instead he gets drunk partying with his loose-living girlfriend Goldie West (Shirley Grey). Her girlfriend Budgie (Fifi D?Orsay) brings along a date who is a reporter (George Meeker ), and since Jimmy doesn’t know this he blabs that the public are suckers for believing him. When the reporter threatens to print that in his newspaper, revealing him as a phony, he punches the reporter and accidentally knocks him out cold. His crooked manager Doc Wood (Lyle Talbot) steals the champ’s girl, his dough and watch and goes on the lam, not wanting to be implicated in the murder. While running away with Goldie and leaving Jimmy alone to face the music their getaway car has a blowout and crashes, burning Goldie and Doc beyond recognition. Because Doc was wearing Jimmy’s watch, the police assume Jimmy is dead. The only one who knows it’s not the champ is disgraced detective Phlaxer (Guy Kibbee), because the watch is not on the southpaw’s right hand. Phlaxer has been assigned the morgue detail after sending an innocent man to the electric chair, and the other cops just laugh at him.
Meantime the champ changes his name to Jack Dougherty and hops a train to the country, and ends up looking like tramp and working on a farm run by Peggy (Loretta Young) and her aunt (Aline MacMahon). The ladies keep the farm as a home for crippled children, and when needing money to keep it afloat Jack starts boxing. When Jack fights King Cobra (Sammy Stein), his picture in the local newspaper reaches Phlaxer. He comes to the boxing match and watches the champ stay up for enough rounds against King Cobra to save the children’s home. Phlaxer observes the champ is a changed a man and decides to let him go.
The sentimental film was popular with the public. John Wayne has a bit part as a boxer knocked out by King Cobra. A 12-year-old Mickey Rooney is one of the children in the home.
REVIEWED ON 5/26/2010 GRADE: C+