The Joe Louis Story (1953)

Unrated  |   |  Biography, Drama, Sport  |  18 September 1953 (USA)
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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 twice as an amateur - once to Coley Wallace and the other time was to a Sergeant De Angeles, when both were in the US army during WW2. 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 »


Featured in Boxing at the Movies: Kings of the Ring (2013) 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

He Put Us On God's Side
14 January 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Two years after the Jackie Robinson Story came out another and slightly better film tribute to a black sports icon came out. Joe Louis had a bit more sense than Jackie Robinson did and let someone else play the part of Joe Louis.

Coley Wallace who had a boxing background stepped into the part and it helped. Of course the same cheapness of production classified this film as the Robinson biographical film. It did however give more information about Louis and his rise and fall though not nearly enough.

Joe Louis, born Joseph Louis Barrow, from an incredibly poor Alabama sharecropper family started his professional career in 1934 and became heavyweight champion in 1937 knocking out the Cinderella Man, James J. Braddock whose story was told two years ago in a film of the same name. Louis met and took on all comers for the next twelve years.

Only three people defeated Joe Louis, Max Schmeling former heavyweight champion on the way to a comeback as Louis was rising in heavyweight ranks, Ezzard Charles when Louis decided to come back himself for financial reasons, and Rocky Marciano on his way up to be champion in Louis's last fight. Interesting that all three men who defeated him became champions themselves.

His ring record was 68 wins with 54 of them by knockout, 3 losses, one of them a decision for Ezzard Charles and he was knocked out by Schmeling and Marciano. He made a still standing record of 25 successful defenses of the heavyweight championship.

Along the way Joe Louis managed to get himself in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations twice. The first is covered in the film as he said at a War Bond Rally in 1942 that we will triumph "because we are on God's side."

The second concerns his title defense against Billy Conn which was not mentioned. Conn, a light heavyweight had bulked up to challenge Louis in his division and Conn was known as one who was lightning fast in the ring. When asked how he would counteract his speed Louis was quoted as saying, "he can run but he can't hide."

Best acting performance in the film without a doubt goes to James Edwards who played old time lightweight fighter, Joseph Blackburn who originally trained Louis. Edwards with the proper breaks could have had the breakthrough career for black leading men as Sidney Poitier had.

Paul Stewart is in the film in the role of a fictional sportswriter character and narrator in the same type of part that Walter Brennan had in Pride of the Yankees. John Marley has an early movie role as Mannie Seamon who succeeded Blackburn as Louis's trainer.

Given the cheapness of the production it's good that they covered as much as they did. A made for TV film was done about the two Louis- Schmeling fights. Maybe someone will do a good biographical film at some point.

Joe Louis was one class act who reached the very heights and had a lot of heartache and bad times after leaving boxing. Even doing stuff like going into professional wrestling to earn money to pay the tax man, he still was a class act. Fitting and proper that Joe Louis is buried in Arlington National Cemetery because he was nothing less than a national treasure.

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