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William A. Wellman
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William A. Wellman
Edward G. Robinson,
Prizefighter Jimmy Dolan accidentally kills a man at a party and escapes. He hides out at a health farm for invalid children and begins to lose his cynicism under the influence of the children and of Peggy and Mrs. Moore, who run the farm. When a detective recognizes him, Jimmy must decide whether to escape or stay and face his responsibilities to the children. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
The Life of Jimmy Dolan is a film about a boxer who gets into some trouble. Jimmy (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) is a cocky, selfish, but famous boxer who has won himself a prestigious title in the sport. During a night of partying, he hauls off and punches a reporter, who falls and strikes his head on the fireplace, which kills him instantly. Dolan's friends are just as self-serving as he is, and they leave him passed out and penniless, set up as an intentional murderer. However, after a drunken high speed police chase, Dolan's manager and girlfriend are dead, causing police to believe that it was Dolan driving and that he was killed. This gives him a chance to run away, but an elderly cop (Guy Kibbee) is skeptical about Dolan's whereabouts.
Jimmy wanders to a farm away from the city, and telling the people there that his name is Jack, takes up residence. He soon has eyes for the beautiful Peggy (Loretta Young) who is under the watchful eye of her aunt (Aline MacMahon). The farm is a getaway for orphaned children (among them Mickey Rooney and Farina Hoskins), who quickly idolize Jack. They encourage him to participate in a local boxing match, which Jack greets skeptically.
Every actor is great in this film, especially character star Kibbee, whose character is appropriately sympathetic and menacing. Fairbanks is an excellent leading man; his good looks and charm make him lovable despite Dolan's selfish character.
This movie was remade with John Garfield and The Dead End Kids in 1939 as They Made Me a Criminal. This early version is better for many reasons, namely the cast, but this version is much more sentimental and less adult thanks to the choice in children. The Dead End Kids add a signature spin on the film, which enhances it greatly, but The Life of Jimmy Dolan is better overall.
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