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The Joe Louis Story (1953)

Unrated | | Biography, Drama, Sport | 18 September 1953 (USA)
The life and career of Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, who held the title for 12 years--longer than any other boxer in history--and who had to not only battle opponents inside the ring and racism outside it.



(original screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Coley Wallace ...
Hilda Simms ...
Marva Trotter Louis
Tad McGeehan
James Edwards ...
Jack 'Chappie' Blackburn
Mannie Seamon
Dots Johnson ...
Julian Black (as Dotts Johnson)
Evelyn Ellis ...
Mrs. Barrows
Carl 'Rocky' Latimer ...
Arthur Pine
John Marriott ...
Sam Langford
Ike Jones ...
Johnny Kingston (as Isaac Jones)
P. Jay Sidney ...
John Roxborough, Handler
Royal Beal ...
Herbert Ratner ...
Newspaper man (as Herb Ratner)
Ruby Goldstein ...
Norman Rose ...


The life and career of Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, who held the title for 12 years--longer than any other boxer in history--and who had to not only battle opponents inside the ring and racism outside it.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


POWERFUL... as his battering fists! THRILLING... as his fighting heart! GREAT... as his never-to-be-forgotten story!


Biography | Drama | Sport


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 September 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A História de Joe Louis  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Rocky Marciano lost four times in amateur boxing. In addition to losing to Coley Wallace, he also lost to Henry Lester, Joe De Angeles and Bob Girard. See more »


When Joe is sending a telegram to Marva in Chicago, the address he gives the Western Union is 5220 Congress Street, but when she receives the telegram, the address reads 60 East 47th Street. See more »


Referenced in Autopsie d'un film érotique (1999) See more »


I'll Be Around
by Alec Wilder
Sung by Anita Ellis
accompanied by the Ellis Larkins Trio
See more »

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User Reviews

A bit superficial but not bad.
28 June 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I saw this film on demand from Netflix and the print was very poor--incredibly dark and fuzzy. Perhaps there are better copies out there. Much of the film consisted of stock footage of Louis' fights and it was hard to tell if this footage was lousy or if it was simply how the rest of the film looked.

Coley Wallace stars as Joe Louis. This was an interesting choice, as Wallace was an amateur boxer--and so he could convincingly play a boxer. In addition, he physically looked reasonably like Louis. As for Wallace, I was surprised to see on IMDb that he was the ONLY person to have ever beaten Rocky Marciano, was one of TWO who beat Marciano AND is one of FOUR who beat Marciano! The only consistent thing the trivia got right on this is that this occurred when Marciano was an amateur.

The film also features the very familiar face of character actor Paul Stewart--an excellent actor that lent the movie a professional look. As for the rest of the cast, they were pretty much unknowns of varying capabilities as actors. A few (such as the one playing his wife, Marva) were rather limp and some of the others were very good.

As far as a biography of Louis goes, this one does have two handicaps. First, it came out just after Louis retired--and his post-boxing life isn't covered. This is a shame, as this period is quite interesting...though a bit depressing. A brief career in pro wrestling, failed marriages and bankruptcy are not especially fun to watch but they all occurred to Louis. Second, biopics of the 40s and 50s tended to be VERY sanitized and must be taken with a grain of salt. There are many examples but the best was "The Babe Ruth Story"--a film that made Ruth look like a combination of a priest and Will Rogers! So, if you want the inside scoop on the real life Louis, this probably isn't your best bet, as it glosses over his mistakes and portrays him mostly in a heroic manner. It did allude to Louis' mismanagement of his money and cockiness before the first Schmeling fight, however--so it wasn't all positive and gloss. However, his personal life is pretty much sanitized--such as why he and his first wife divorced and not even a hint is mentioned of racism--something that MUST have been an issue for the first black heavyweight champ since Jack Johnson.

By the way, the old blind boxer, Sam Langford, who gives Joe a pep talk in the film was a real boxer. He fought over 500 fights and lost only 17--so no wonder he lost his eyesight! It was not him playing himself, however.

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