|Index||6 reviews in total|
Love when you turn on TCM and find a movie you have never seen or heard of and has a bunch of actors you like and you have time to kill. This happened today. Was tired of the news nothing else was on so I turned on TCM and found a movie called "Tennessee Champ" almost turned it off thinking it was going to be a Mellow about the old south. But since I had the TV on for background noise I left it on for a few minutes saw who was in it There was Shelly Winters and Keenan Wynn two of my favorite actors so I started to watch it. It turned out to be a really good Boxing movie and a heart felt story about Faith and Sports. Maybe a little campy by today's standards but in a time when we don't have much in the way of a Faith Based movie it had a strong message. Highly recommend it if you get a chance to catch it.
Cute light comedy/drama is more notable for the sly humor between
Shelley Winters and Keenan Wynn than its rather far-fetched story about
raising money to bankroll a tabernacle through boxing.
This was Shelley's first film after a period off screen due to the birth of her daughter and she looks great. Shot in vivid color with Shelley dressed in some very striking ensembles, one hat she wears looks like she has a red & white mint on top her head!, and plush surroundings standard for MGM. You would never realize this was made on a low budget since it looks better than many films shot today. Dewey Martin doesn't really stand out in the lead although he's earnest enough. He's certainly in peak physical condition much more so than was typical at the time and the script provides almost endless opportunities for him to show his physique. Also in the cast are two actors, Earl Holliman and Charles Bronson, who would rise to prominence over the next couple of decades.
As for the story, which is similar to 1956's The Leather Saint with John Derek as a boxing priest and Paul Douglas his manager, it's pretty corny but not enough to spoil the pleasure of the viewer's experience. No great shakes but a fun diversion.
"The Lord in My Corner" could have been an alternate title for this slight, but relatively enjoyable boxing film. Wynn is a conman who is always looking for the best way to score another buck. He happens upon preacher's son Martin, who is on the lam after slugging (and possibly killing) a thug who was chasing him. With the help of his wife (Winters), Wynn proceeds to turn Martin into a fast-rising boxing celebrity while Martin socks his percentage of the money away to fund his father's church. Wynn is after the dough while Martin feels he is fighting for God's cause. Winters is on hand basically to keep Wynn in line and knit in the audience during all the bouts (and apparently works on the same product ad nauseam, the world's longest-taking muffler!) It isn't all quite as pious and dry as it sounds, thanks mostly to a fairly lively cast of mostly familiar faces. Wynn does a good job as the chiseler who is always on the verge of turning good. Winters is a tad shrill occasionally and her part is only marginally interesting, but she and Wynn share a nice chemistry. Martin is utterly adorable and exceedingly fit and sexy. His character is endearingly naive and charming and his first attempt at boxing involves a pair of oversized shorts which occasionally reveal the tiniest hint of tan line on his yummy little frame. Also on board is Holliman as a dim-witted palooka who (in a sometimes excruciatingly-annoying running gag) keeps a harmonica in his mouth and provides background music with it! Then there's Bronson as a menacing, wiry, infamous prizefighter who Martin has to defeat in the climactic showdown. The story is pat and trite and contrived in the extreme, but it's also endearing in its simplicity and sincerity of performances. A couple of nagging questions: Why would Martin, a preacher's son, not be able to read? Wouldn't pop want him to be able to study the Bible? Also, why does Martin need to follow a hymn book for "Old Time Religion", a song he would have surely known by heart if he knew the Bible by heart? These things, and the unlikely coincidence of Bronson being the fighter at the end, betray the amateurish nature of the script, but there are worse way to spend an hour and a half.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The harmonica on the soundtrack is certainly catchy, and the keen
attention to period detail as well as MGM's usually good production
values help make this a memorable motion picture. I was particularly
impressed with Dewey Martin as a boxer who fights and wins because the
Lord is in his corner. He is not exactly the world's greatest actor,
but he brings a fresh-faced sincerity to the role. It's required for a
story of this type to be believable, especially since his character (a
man named Daniel) is placed in an environment that seems more like a
den of thieves. Keenan Wynn plays his manager, the greatest thief of
them all, and Shelley Winters is Wynn's wife. Wynn and Winters are
perfect together and their on-going banter is easily a highlight of the
film. Also in the cast is Earl Holliman as a a fighter turned assistant
who becomes friends with Martin.
We know the characters in this sort of feel-good sports drama are all going to come to the Lord before the final fadeout, or at least experience some sort of personal transformation. That's the main reason Martin is in their life, and the main reason the filmmakers are even telling this story. As such, there are some good conversion scenes that are not as heavy- handed as I expected them to be. We do see some religious services with preaching, and the occasional hallelujahs from the crowd, but what's more important is how Wynn, Winters and Holliman react to these spiritual demonstrations. It causes them to be introspective, and this is meaningful for everyone, especially for Holliman who is defined as being none too bright. It's interesting to see them all grapple with their consciences and grow as human beings. For 73 minutes, something positive has happened to this group on screen; and I'd like to believe it's been just as good for the viewer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
****SPOILERS**** Dewey Martin is the "Batteling Decon" Daniel "Danny"
Norson who turns to boxing on the advice of his new found shyster
manager Willy Worbel, Kennen Wynn,who's only interested in how much
Danny can make for him in the ring who in the end suffers a religious
conversion in how decent and honest his boxer is. This all started in a
fight that Danny was involved in where he killed, or so he thought,
local tough guy Sixty Jubel, Charles Buchinsky aka Bronson, with one
solid right punch in self defense when he cornered him on the city
Feeling guilty in breaking one of the Ten Commandments-Thou Shall Not Kill-and on the lamb from the police Danny is talked into becoming a prize fighter, something he has no interest in, by Willy in him not really wanting to knock out his opponents but in being knocked out himself for the crime, killing Jubel, that he had committed. With Danny donating 20% of his purse to his church that's facing foreclose from the bank, that Willy secretly teaks as much as 90% of, Danny goes on a tear winning 15 in a row making his the #1 contender for the middleweight champion of the state of Tennessee to fight the undefeated, like himself, ***MAJOR SPOILER*** state champ the Biloxi Blockbuster played by a resurrected from the dead and in tip top fighting shape Sixty Jubel!
One of the last movie that Dewey Martin had a staring role as well as one of the first that Charles Bronson-known then as Charles Buchinsky- without his famous mustache had a major as well as talking part in. There's also Shelly Winters in her first movie in almost two years as Willy's long suffering wife Sarah who takes a shine to Danny in how innocent as well as religious he is. That in the end has her, as well as Danny, have her sinful husband turn his life around and join Danny's church and help save the souls of sinners like himself in turning their, like he did, lives around.
Here we go off to the boxing ring once again. This movie was a great boxing movie. I just saw last year for the first time and it was delightful. There is a new boxer in town so you better watch your step before he wants to get you into the boxing ring to win some money so he can send it back home. The guy (Boxer) is disparately seeking money and he will do whatever it takes to get it! I enjoy watching this movie over and over again.
|Plot summary||Ratings||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|