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Gregory La Cava
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This 1947 boxing flick, seems to have been an attempt by MGM to save the career of their former top box-office attraction, Mickey Rooney, by toughening up his image. Had the script been better, and the direction more interesting, they could well have succeeded.
The 27 year old Rooney couldn't play kids any more, and so MGM cast him as a young man literally fighting his way out of the slums by becoming a boxer. And he's very convincing in the role. He was always a sensitive performer, but this time he displays a maturity and a restraint that is remarkable. He is really listening and giving his all to his fellow actors, and so to the audience.
And he has some great actors to work with. The entire cast is very strong, but special mention should be made of the excellent Brian Donlevy, and, most especially the brilliant James Dunn. Playing Rooney's washed-out Vaudevillian father, Dunn is truly unforgettable - making the character both immensely likeable and totally loathsome.
Apart from the performances we also get some very nicely filmed, and exciting, boxing sequences. On the downside, the script is rather ordinary, the ending a bit sappy, and the direction unimaginative. But the film is well worth seeing for Rooney and Dunn at their best!
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