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Gentleman Jim (1942)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, Romance | 14 November 1942 (USA)
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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Complete credited cast:
Carlton De Witt
Buck Ware
Anna Held (as Madeleine LeBeau)
Harry Watson


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 protégé 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 duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 November 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der freche Kavalier  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The press announced Phil Silvers for the film, but he was never signed. Presumably he would played the Jack Carson role. See more »


Joe Choynski is shown as a big brute. The real Choynski was a middleweight who never weighed over 155 lb., and was much smaller than Corbett. See more »


Judge Geary: We'll take in a few clean-cut boys from good families, and if we can't make you fighters into gentlemen, we'll try to make some gentlemen into fighters.
See more »


Featured in Raoul Walsh and Errol Flynn (2002) See more »


The Wearing of the Green
(ca 1798) (uncredited)
Traditional Irish folk tune
In the score during the opening credits and occasionally in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

The First "Modern" Heavyweight Boxing Champion
23 April 2004 | by See all my reviews

It is sometimes odd to think how many historical figures who were the subjects of film biographies from 1927 to 1950 were actually still alive in the start of the talking film period. Marie Curie was - is there some long forgotten piece of newsreel film with her in it (from Pathe, naturally) where we see her in a laboratory, and she is talking in French or Polish or even English? George M. Cohan - he actually was in some silent films, but there were two sound films he starred in, one of which (THE PHANTOM PRESIDENT) is in tact, and is worth watching. It turned out the Yankee Doodle Boy could sing and act on celluloid. How about the subject of GENTLEMAN JIM, the great pugilist James J. Corbett?

Well, actually, there are some films with Corbett in them from the early sound period. People forget that he followed his boxing career with a fairly successful stage career (including the lead role in George Bernard Shaw's THE ADMIRABLE BASHFUL, a play about pugilism based on Shaw's novel CASHEL BYRON'S PROFESSION). This is barely touched on in GENTLEMAN JIM, except in one scene where Errol Flynn mentions Shaw's writings. Anyway, Corbett would remain in the vaudeville and legitimate theatre until he died in 1931. And he did appear in one or two early sound films [so did the first African-American heavyweight boxing champ, Jack Johnson].

Actually GENTLEMAN JIM wisely stuck to the rise of Corbett to the heavyweight championship. It also was able to make much humor out of his contentious family and his social pretensions (constantly punctured by Alexis Smith, as the socialite he would like to marry). Supported by an able cast, including William Frawley, Jack Carson, and Alan Hale Sr. the film goes along rapidly, and you never get bored. Raoul Walsh's direction is first rate here. And there are moments of great humor, such as the fat members of the Olympic Club exercising, or the way the Corbetts seem to be preparing for their next fight at the drop of a hat (to which Carson yells "THE CORBETTS ARE AT IT AGAIN!" each time). Some of Walsh's camera tricks are nice too - in a montage showing the rise of Corbett in a series of successful fights, Walsh uses photos of the boxers in a bar that are stills from the next scene of the fight the boxers lose or win.

Corbett was one of the first articulate and well-read men to achieve boxing fame. He also championed the Marquess of Queensberry rules, including boxing gloves. The latter had already achieved acceptance (begrudgingly) from Sullivan, whose defeat of Paddy Kilraine in 1889 was the last great bare-knuckle fight. But the final scene of Sullivan (Ward Bond, possibly in his finest moment on the screen) passing his heavyweight belt to Corbett, no matter how moving it really is, brings to mind one of the real problems of Corbett's victory in 1892. Sullivan, a large man with a heavy drinking problem, was not in tip-top shape when he fought Corbett, who was faster and younger. Bond says he does not know what would have been the result if they had met five years earlier, and Flynn agrees it would be hard to call. We'll never really know. Sullivan dominated the heavyweight fight game from 1881 to 1892. Corbett was champ from 1892 to 1897. One wonders which of the two champs was really the greater boxer.

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