Based on Kubrick's pictorial for Look Magazine (January 18, 1949) entitled "Prizefighter," "Day Of The Fight" tells of a day in the life of a middleweight Irish boxer named Walter Cartier, ...
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Based on Kubrick's pictorial for Look Magazine (January 18, 1949) entitled "Prizefighter," "Day Of The Fight" tells of a day in the life of a middleweight Irish boxer named Walter Cartier, particularly the day of his bout with black middleweight Bobby James. This 16-minute short opens with a short (about 4 minutes) study of boxing's history, narrated by veteran newscaster Douglas Edwards in a no-nonsense, noir tone of voice. After this, we follow Walter (and his twin brother Vincent) through his day as he prepares for his 10:00 P.M. bout. After eating breakfast, going to early mass and eating lunch, he starts arranging his things for the fight at 4:00 P.M. By 8:00, he is waiting in his dressing room, where he undergoes a mental transformation, turning into the fighting machine the crowd clamors for. At 10:00, he faces James, and soon, he comes out victorious in a short match which was filmed live on April 17th, 1950. Written by
Marc-David Jacobs <AgentMarcFBI@hotmail.com>
more than anything a student film- but one with enough to look at
It's true, I would not know anything about this short RKO-type documentary if not for the fact that it was the first time that iconoclast Stanley Kubrick picked up a camera with rolling film stock to be screened in theaters. But as a student filmmaker myself, I find it of the utmost fascination - even when it is in a jittery, ragged print like the one I obtained on video - to see the early, primitive works of famous directors (Last Year in Vietnam by Stone, My Best Friend's Birthday by Tarantino, and Les Mistons by Truffaut are others) and the foundations of style. Day of the Fight, to be sure, is not something of incredible note, and it would not be until the Killing that Kubrick would create a great film. Yet through this film, I was constantly aware- and pleased- by how this very typical kind of story was executed.
In a way, it's almost of more worth to watch this film with the sound off; the narration, while good at getting to know the very basics of this boxer that's being profiled, it's also a distraction and not very revelatory. As just a succession of images, however, it works a lot more. It's the kind of short documentary that is 70% real, and 30% staged, with Kubrick following the boxer and his brother on the streets of New York, leading up to the fight that will bring him recognition. When looking at how Kubrick uses the camera, it seems fairly simple and, for those looking for all of the Kubrick trademarks, disappointing. But in just looking at how he uses the camera, how he gets his subjects in frame, and the importance of composition and the subtleties of lighting, it's really quite good. And the fight sequence, filmed by Kubrick and a friend, has some cut-away shots that almost ring of the future of Scorsese's Raging Bull (though, of course, still primitive).
Is it more of a curiosity, a film for Kubrick die-hard completists looking to have all 16 of his works, docs and features, in their collection? Sure, but it is also one of the better short doc's he made in his formative years, taking a subject he was already interested in (he was a photographer for Look magazine with this boxer under profile) and going a step further. As his sort of film school, this is in terms of the image even more fascinating than the lackluster 'doodle on the fridge' film Fear and Desire.
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