|Index||3 reviews in total|
This movie's plot was all-too-familiar even in 1955. It is basically a reworking of Golden Boy with a bit of Body And Soul and two or three others mixed in. Some of the dialog is similarly recycled, but there are a few intriguing new lines providing some food for thought. Mostly though, if you are a fan of boxing movies, the two lead performances and the brisk pacing makes this one worth passing time with. Tony Curtis wouldn't have been my first choice for the lead in a boxing movie, but he brings surprising grit and ambition to the role. Borgnine is dead-on perfect as the tough-but...make that just plain tough manager who has to overcome his disappointment for the flaws in Curtis' character to take him back under his wing. John Marley is a standout as a referee vulnerable to intimidation.
The Square Jungle finds Tony Curtis as an eager young man with limited
prospects and an alcoholic father on his hands in the person of Jim
Backus on his hand. A fact brutally pointed out by Clancy Cooper who is
the father of Pat Crowley whom Tony is going out with. With the help of
a friendly police captain Paul Kelly, Tony decides to become a boxer
and Kelly even gets him former fighter Ernest Borgnine to train him.
Curtis is well cast in the part of the eager young middleweight who rises to the championship, but loses sight of some values along the way. That's Borgnine's other function besides training, but even he can't help Curtis when he starts casting eyes at curvaceous Leigh Snowden.
The film has some elements of Champion, The Crowd Roars, Kid Galahad and a few other boxing films. It's all a good mix for Tony Curtis who was in his salad days when he was making this for Universal Pictures.
In his memoirs he had nothing to say about this film, but I recall him on a television series where he spoke on the long past scandal of Paul Kelly committing a homicide in which he did some time. He said that Kelly was a first class gentleman and very helpful and gracious to a young actor on the way up. In his memoirs he did mention however David Janssen who plays a sports writer here and who was also part of Universal's stable of contract players then, that Janssen was convinced that he was the illegitimate son of Clark Gable. Looking at their ears I could see why he would think that.
The Square Jungle was definitely a boost for the career of Tony Curtis.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is the usual Universal Studios film about boxing, showing
prizefighters having some personal problems with people around them.
See for instance Joseph Pevney's IRON MAN or FLESH AND FURY - starring
the same Tony Curtis. Not bad features, but far from the likes of Mark
Ronson's THE CHAMPION or Robert Wise's SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME and
THE SET UP - probably, for my taste, the best film ever about boxing;
or also Ralph Nelson's REQUIEM FOR A HEAVY WEIGHT...
Back to this one, you may like it or not, but it's rather rare and Jerry Hooper was a good film maker, perhaps lacking ambition, but a real pro. So, nothing special for this feature you may forget as soon as you leave the theatre or switch off the TV set. Nothing poignant, and everything predictable. Curtis tepid, as usual, except some movies such as TRAPEZE or SWWET SMELL OF SUCCESS. But Universal films were never charmless; flat, perhaps, but not boring.
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