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A slum kid fights his way to the top despite an alcoholic dad and a bunch of tricky gamblers.
MGM does a boxing movie, not exactly its usual glamorous fare. And though the movie suffers in comparison with the gritty, noirish classics of the time, Body and Soul (1947) and The Set-Up (1949), Rooney lends a kind of manic energy that remains compelling. In fact, the film's shrewdly cast, from bit parts to leads, making it easy to overlook the film's theatrical over-tones. Sure, it's a vehicle for Rooney, to toughen his Andy Hardy image, but the producers have surrounded him with a first-rate cast, and a pretty good story that's got just enough twists to carry past the many clichés.
My favorite parts are surprisingly some of the talky partsthe two gamblers Tully and Donlevy, each thinking he's outfoxing the other; or the two boxers Rooney and Steele, buddying up in the nightclub after their match; or a cynical Rooney finding out the chippie waitress does have more on her mind than casual sex. Each is cleverly written and expertly performed. I just wish Rooney had hooked himself to a generator where all that energy could have lit up a city.
No, the movie's neither memorable nor a boxing classic, but it does make it as 100-minutes of colorful entertainment.
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