Right Cross (1950)
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Powell though married to Allyson and billed first in the credits takes an essentially supporting role as a sportswriter and confidante of aspiring boxer Ricardo Montalban. He kind of likes Allyson in the film but he's a good guy and steps aside for Montalban in the romance department.
What Right Cross does demonstrate is the power of internalized self hate can have on one's soul. Montalban plays a Chicano American who doesn't think he's good enough for the perky and Caucasian Allyson. The surprise for him is that he can't believe that she really does like him a lot and not just because he's a potential champion.
Lionel Barrymore is on hand as Allyson's father in one of his last films for MGM. Right Cross has another distinction, it is the last time that Dick Powell sang on the big screen as he takes a chorus of Alla En El Rancho Grande.
The boxing sequences are nicely and realistically done. But I think Right Cross is more of a romantic film with a boxing background than the other way around.
But forget all of that - June Allyson is simply beautiful as the strong-willed and spunky daughter of an Irish boxing promoter, and her real-life husband Dick Powell is uniquely sublime playing a "wannabe" beau with alacrity.
Great flick - just watch it and look at June's beautiful baby-face. There just aren't any actresses with those particular beautiful and innocent youthful charms today!
Right Cross is an exceptional film because of the cast, but the story makes it strictly a b-film. It is no wonder it is so difficult to find. However, for die-hard Monroe fans and fans of the Allyson-Powell coupling, this is a must-see. Catch it sporadically on TCM.
The film "Right Cross" is more about boxer Johnny Monterez being afraid of the future after boxing then being afraid of boxing in the ring, against formidable opponents, itself. Johnny is also afraid that his All-American girlfriend Pat O'Malley, June Allyson, will leave him as soon as his big paydays-as world champ-in the ring are over. This leads Johnny to drop Pat's dad boxing prompter as well as his manager Sean O'Malley, Lionel Barrymore, who guided his career to the championship for Allan Goff, Barry Kelly, who promised Johnny a 10% stake in his business after he retired.
As we soon find out Johnny is only good to Goff as long as he's fighting and bringing crowds to the arena's to see him defend his title. It's when Johnny injures his right, and money punch, hand that he realize that without his knock-out punch he'll end up in the trash can, like most of the fighters who are controlled by Goff, not on Groff's payroll like he thought he would.
Being matched up to defend his title against "Killer Al" Helden, Court Shepard, Johnny feels that he'll have no trouble dispatching the right handed punching slugger with his superior boxing ability and fancy footwork. It's when Johnny's good friend, and the real life husband of the actress who pays Johnny's girlfriend Pat, sports reporter Rick Garvey, Dick Powell, warns him about his dangerous habit of being a sucker for a straight right, or right cross, that Johnnys arrogance and bravado take over his ring wise intelligence and plain old common sense. Something that would soon prove to be fatal to Johnny when he steps into the ring with the right cross throwing Al Heldon.
Even though the fight scenes in the film are saved for the final 10 or so minutes they rank right up there with some of the best fight sequences in movie history. Both actors Ricardo Montalban and Court Shepard are so good, and professional, in their mixing it up in the ring that they could have even given Middleweight Champs, of the 1950's, Sugar Ray Robinson or Jake LaMotta a run, or fight, for the money in a real professional boxing match.
***SPOILERS*** As for Johnny he finds out the hard way that Pat is only interested in him as a person not him in being champ. It was Johnny dumping Pat's father Sean as his promoter/manager that caused the old man, Pat feels, to suffer a fatal heart attack. Now with his boxing career over Johhny, no longer in the limelight, knows who his friends, real friends, really are. But it took a terrible beating in the ring for Johhny to find that out.
P.S Check out a cameo appearance in the movie by the soon to be America's, as well as the worlds, #1 sex symbol Marilyn Monroe as fashion model Dusky Ledoux. Even as a mostly unknown actress, back in 1950, in what seem like barley a minute of screen time Marilyn still had men going nuts, and turning heads, over her. Even the star, together with Ricardo Montalban and June Allyson, of the film Dick Powell just couldn't keep is eyes off her and asked Marilyn, or Miss Ledux, to come up to his place for a date and check out his great spaghetti and meat ball recipe: Marilyn turned him down.
For the most part, the reviews for "Right Cross" on IMDb are very, very positive. I have a hard time understanding this, as I thought the film was mediocre until the end--and then it was downright awful.
Johnny (Ricardo Montalban) is in love with Pat (June Allyson)--though for the life of me, I had no idea what attracted either towards each other. Regardless, Johnny is a boxer and is a real contender for the championship. However, the years of boxing have taken their toll--and the doctor tells Johnny he may have to give up boxing because he hand may not hold up. So, instead of dealing with it, Johnny spends most of the movie sulking and acting like a jerk. He never is consistent as a character and you wonder why ANYONE wants to be around him. Because of this, Rick (Dick Powell) thinks perhaps he should make a play for Pat-- after all, he's secretly had a crush on her for some time. What will happen with 'the big fight'?
The film was only okay. On the plus side, the boxing sequences were good but the characters were bland and often contradictory (especially Johnny). But he ending...YUCK!!! It made zero sense and Rick's reaction AFTER Johnny belts him is just ultra-bizarre. The film is poorly written and there are TONS of other boxing films that are significantly better than this one. In fact, MOST boxing films are significantly better than this one!