Prizefighter and the Lady, The (1933)

Prizefighter and the Lady, The (1933)

“He’s just a big kid — playful and thoughtless.”

Synopsis:
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.

Genres:

Review:
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

Must See?
No, unless you’re curious.

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One thought on “Prizefighter and the Lady, The (1933)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see, though it’s not a bad film.

    Overall, a popcorn flick that moves along easily enough and becomes more interesting as it progresses – thanks largely to the professionalism of Loy and Huston (who are both appropriately hooked into the material). Baer may not be a terrific actor but even he steps up to the plate to come off as more than just a lug.

    Reportedly, the film received help from Howard Hawks (uncredited). Van Dyke is a good director but the film does also seem to have the Hawks touch here and there.

    I wish more attention had been paid to Loy’s character’s appeal as a singer so we would understand her own popularity (even though she’s not doing her own singing). She’s given one song “of her own composition” – which is so-so and then, later, repeats that same song. I think the character deserved better. But that’s a small point.

    I do like the way the love angle is handled. It has guts to it (esp. when it’s challenged; when Loy shines) and is believable.

    I would think Scorsese watched this film as he prepared ‘Raging Ball’. A number of shots in the final boxing sequence seem to echo in Scorsese’s film – and, occasionally, Baer seems to eerily look like De Niro. But can you imagine De Niro doing that ‘Lucky Fella’ musical revue routine?! 😉

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