“He’s just a big kid — playful and thoughtless.”
As a beefy bartender (Max Baer) begins training with a washed-up boxing promoter (Walter Huston), he falls for the singing moll (Myrna Loy) of a gangster (Otto Krueger), who is primarily worried about Loy’s happiness given Baer’s enormous ego and roving eye.
W.S. Van Dyke directed this pre-Code showcase for world heavyweight boxing champion Max Baer, who exhibited natural acting chops and was easily able to slip into the title role. Unfortunately, his character isn’t exactly likable — he’s self-absorbed, arrogant, and an inveterate player — so it’s hard to maintain sympathy for Loy’s interest in him. The storyline is essentially a woman giving her life up for a man who doesn’t deserve her, and thus it’s hard to know what outcome to root for. There is a surreal interlude at one point, during which Baer sings and dances in a revue with a bevy of much-smaller women, showing off his strength and size; this is worth a watch (though Baer is no Gene Kelly). The film ends with a lengthy fight between Baer and Primo Carnera, who he soundly defeated in real life the following year — thus making this flick of historical interest to boxing fans, but probably not others.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Myrna Loy as “The Lady”
- The surreal musical number (!!)
- Creative direction
No, unless you’re curious.