Gentleman Jim (1942)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  14 November 1942 (USA)
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As bareknuckled boxing enters the modern era, brash extrovert Jim Corbett uses new rules and dazzlingly innovative footwork to rise to the top of the top of the boxing world.



(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Julie Bishop, Helmut Dantine


Complete credited cast:
Minor Watson ...
Madeleine Lebeau ...
Anna Held (as Madeleine LeBeau)
Arthur Shields ...
Father Burke
Dorothy Vaughan ...
Ma Corbett


Because boxing is a considered an illegal and disreputable enterprise in 1880's San Francisco, wealthy and influential members of the prestigious Olympic Club vow to make the sport a "gentlemanly" one. They sponsor a brash, extroverted young bank clerk named Jim Corbett, who quickly becomes an accomplished fighter under the new Marquis of Queensbury Rules. Despite his success, the young Irish-American's social pretensions and boastful manner soon estrange him from his benefactors, who plot to give their conceited former protege a well-deserved comeuppance. Despite this, his dazzlingly innovative footwork helps him to beat a succession of bigger and stronger men, and he finally finds himself fighting for the world's championship against his childhood idol, John L. Sullivan. Written by Gabe Taverney (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The grandest story of the Naughty "Nineties" becomes the gayest picture of the Fighting "Forties!"


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

14 November 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der freche Kavalier  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Errol Flynn did all of his own boxing stunts in the film, and although production was shut down for a time after Flynn suffered a mild heart attack, he came back and finished the picture without ever using a double. See more »


The night the Corbetts are moving out of their old home to go to the one that Jim had bought for them, the shadow of the boom mic is clearly seen moving along the left wall as they come down the outside steps. See more »


James J. Corbett aka Gentleman Jim: I've seen you around San Francisco a few times but from a long distance, of course.
John L. Sullivan: Well, seein' me from a long distance is a smart idea, young fella.
See more »


Featured in Sports on the Silver Screen (1997) See more »


Rosen aus dem Süden (Roses from the South), Op. 388
(1880) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Played in the dining room of the Olympic Club
Also played by the band at the ball
See more »

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User Reviews

Raoul Walsh's Light yet Poingant telling of The Jim Corbett Story, With scenes looking like illustrations from THE NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE.
28 July 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Some saying about 'The Play is the Most Important Thing', or something like that, is attributed to that old Bard of Avon, himself, William Shakewspeare. if it wasn't old Will, it may well have been our own, super-veteran film Director, Mr. Raoul Walsh. There are a large number of his films that would support this hypothesis. None are more appropriate than GENTLEMAN JIM(Warner Brothers, 1942).

The Film also racks up another award, being named as Errol Flynn's favourite of his own starring vehicles. It clearly gives on screen evidence that would easily lead viewers sitting in the darkened theatre, or viewing it on their home TV or DVD, to conclude same.

To be sure, the story is a semi-serious Biopic, which takes a portion of factual material and blends it with a liberal dose of the old imagination to bring us a very satisfying, albeit somewhat fictionalized(what Biopic isn't?)occurrences.

The casting is excellent, as it makes good use of the natural athleticism of our lead, Mr. Errol Flynn. Though not a Swashbuckler, a Western or a War Picture, this GENTLEMAN JIM is perhaps the starring role that was the best fit for the rugged Australian.

Errol was a member of the Australian Olympic Boxing Team in either 1928 or 1932. His training and skills in the 'sweet science'are clearly in evidence throughout the film and especially in the "Big Fight" for the World's Heavyweight Boxing Championship with the great John L.Sullivan,Himself.(played in expert fashion by Ward Bond) The cast reads like a duty roster of Warner Brothers' resident supporting players. It features Alan Hale as Jim Corbet's father, a Livery Wagon operator*. His two brothers are Harry and George (Pat Flaherty and James Flavin), the two 'blue collar' men of the family, their occupations being stated as being 'Longshormen'.

The great Jack Carson does his usual masterful serio-comic performance in support as Jim Corbett's friend and fellow bank teller. The rest of those we can both recognize and remember are:John Loder, William Frawley,Madeleine LeBeau, Minor Watson, Rhys Williams,Arthur Shields,Dorothy Vaughn to name but a few.

Director Walsh also used a number of Pro Wrestlers in roles of various Boxers. Hence we have Ed "Strangler" Lewis and an unknown Grappler* are featured as the 2 waterfront pugs in the opening scenes. Others were Sammy Stein, Mike Mazurki(ever hear of him?)and "Wee Willie" Davis. These guys had a powerful,yet unpolished look about them that the old Pier 9 brawlers would have possessed.

We haven't forgotten Leading Lady, Alexis Smith. She is powerful in her characterization of an "independent" woman, yet maintains enough true ability as a comic player in many of the scenes. She displays quite a range in her part as poor little rich girl, Victoria Lodge.

With all these ingredients at hand, the trick is how to mix the elements in proper proportions to give it the 'just right' blend. Well, Director Walsh does so with a reckless abandon. Because he is looking for, above all, a great film. His treatment shows all of the skills he had honed to a fine tuning starting with his days as a player with D.W. Griffith. Mr. Walsh seems to have a special fondness for that period, the 1890's.*** Mr. Walsh's direction moves through the script at a fairly fast clip, breaking up the exposition scenes with a humorous punch-line, "the Corbetts are at it again!" Hence, he is able to maintain a light, even humorous touch to a story which could become too drab and serious.

Furthermore, in an almost unnoticed element, Brother Walsh gives us an authentic look of a San Francisco of the 1890's. And as a further example of his fondness for that period, he creates wide, dynamic images of the historic Prize Fights. There is a vibrant, joyful mood conveyed in those Boxing scenes. As a crowning glory to this great, perhaps underrated film, Director Walsh gave the image a look as if it were an illustration from The Police Gazette, which covered such events in those "Old Days".

But there's just one thing to remember before viewing. If it is for the first time, or if your seeing it once more:


* In my humble opinion as a historian of both Film and Pro Wrestling, it looks like Tor Johnson, who years later was a favourite of Director Ed Wood's.

** A 'Livery' is a somewhat archaic term for a vehicle for hire for local city transportation.

*** It's true. Mr. Raoul Walsh was a Griffith Veteran Player. He was the actor to portray John Wilkes Booth in THE BIRTH OF A NATION(1915).

**** Being born in 1887, Raoul Walsh was old enough to have his own memories of the 1890's and of the Sullivan-Corbett Championship Bout and what it meant to the Sporting Life in the America of those days.

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