|Index||3 reviews in total|
The mid-1950s proved to be the last stand for Hollywood's traditional
movie. (In 1955, for example, Tony Curtis appeared in "The Square Jungle"
while John Derek donned gloves for "The Leather Saint.") Audie Murphy's
"World in My Corner" may be the best of this lot even though it follows a
well-worn formula: poor but honest boxer from the wrong side of the tracks
gets a taste of the high-life, falls for a rich society girl, and is
to "take a dive" for money.
The sole variation here is that rich-girl Barbara Rush is also the good-girl. (In some movies, the rich-girl is portrayed as a flashy blonde temptress who tries to lure the boxer into corruption. Opposing her, of course, is a poor but devoted good-girl who dresses modestly and who has dark hair. Guess which girl the boxer winds up with in the final scene.)
At least "World in My Corner" seems aware of its routine nature. Rather than trying to hide it, the movie makes it an asset by playing things straight, avoiding unnecessary detours and keeping both plot and characters within a narrow focus. The result may not be stylish or innovative but it does offer a modest degree of satisfaction.
Audie Murphy may never have been Oscar-material but he's well-cast here and does passably well in the many boxing sequences. Needless to say, he often appears bare-chested and this opportunity to exploit a young actor's "beefcake" potential partially explains the appeal of the boxing movie. Had Ben Affleck come along a generation or two ago, for example, he'd probably have had at least one boxing movie under his belt, though his chest would probably have been shaved for the sake of "decency."
Audie Murphy plays Tommy Shea, a not particularly distinguished boxer
whose career is anything but stellar. However, an aging boxing manager,
David Bernstein (John McIntire), thinks Shea has real promise...though
he lacks discipline and training. It happens that Bernstein works for a
rich guy...a guy who is looking to back a promising young fighter and
soon Tommy is getting the guidance he needs. The problem, however, is
that to get a chance at the title, Tommy might need to play by the
rules of the mob...perhaps throw a fight or two. What is he to do?
This is a decent boxing film. But in a genre where there are many great boxing pictures, it's quite undistinguished by comparison. It's not like the movie is bad or anything like that...but similar stories have been told better. It also would have helped had the writer made Tommy a bit more likable and less impulsive.
Occasionally Universal Pictures let Audie Murphy do some work other
than westerns. I'm sure he was grateful for the change of scenery and
pace and a chance to vary his roles. Rural Texas country kid Murphy
does quite well in World In My Corner as an aspiring young boxer from
the mean streets of Jersey City.
Getting laid off from a job means that Murphy has to give his all to a boxing career. He's unpolished, but has the instinct. Two people take an interest in him, millionaire sportsman Jeff Morrow and old time fight manager John McIntire. And Murphy takes an interest in Morrow's daughter Barbara Rush.
The conflict in this film is whether Murphy will keep his integrity or turn himself over to racketeer promoter Howard St.John. When this film came out there were rumblings about organized crime's involvement in boxing and soon it would come out at the Senate rackets committee hearings.
World In My Corner has Murphy getting the most of what boxing could give him. But he pays a heavy price for it.
As you can see a great cast of players back Murphy in this film. I would also include Tommy Rall in a non-musical role as one of Murphy's friends from Jersey City. He's quite a conniver, but does show he's Murphy's friend in the end.
A very nicely done boxing film that gets too little attention.
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