In early Hollywood films, the few occasions when they took the time to actually give some depth and development to a female character, the woman was either portrayed as a saint or as bad news. They go the saint route in "The Big Timer" (1932); which in this case means standing behind your man for life, no matter how boorish and stupid his behavior.
"She" is Honey Baldwin, played by Constance Cummings who had much the same cute little Irish girl look as Nancy Carroll. Honey's man is Cooky Bradford (Ben Lyon), so named because he cooks hamburgers at a lunch wagon. Cooky also works for Honey's father Pop as a sparring partner for the boxers he manages. When Pop dies, Honey tries to carry on his gym and fight management business but only Cooky and their trainer Schultzy can overcome their prejudices and work for a woman. One of the writers (Dorothy Howell) was a woman, which might explain these unlikely plot elements.
Honey gets Cooky his first professional fight. He wins and earns a ten-dollar lucky gold piece. For some reason this inspires them to get married. But the fight game is a struggle and the married Cooky is soon back making burgers (the burger jokes are what passes for humor in this film). Finally Honey is able to get Cooky on the card for a charity match and he begins climbing to the top of his light middleweight classification.
Although Lyon looks wimpy, and his character is more slack-jawed retard than manly boxer, he somehow becomes the boy toy of Kay Mitchell (Thelma Todd), a wily society dame. This was a different sort of role for Todd, who generally played an airhead with a heart of gold; and whose real strength was comedic stuff. But she was trying to break the typecasting and would reprise the role in "Call Her Savage" (1932). In both films her natural likability works against her and it's pretty hard to suspend disbelief and buy into these scenes.
"The Big Timer" is not "Rocky" or "Raging Bull". The boxing scenes, when not stock footage, are on the authenticity level of a "Three Stooges" short. But Cummings is good enough to make you want to seek out more of her films.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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