Joe and Max (TV Movie 2002) Poster

(2002 TV Movie)

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Well-crafted and underrated
speechmasters1 June 2003
I was surprised at the low overall rating this movie got. It won a Best Editing award, and the fine photography, editing, and one of the best jobs of musical scoring I have ever heard, alone, make it very watchable. Shot mostly on location in Berlin, check out the production design. Better than many feature films completed on ten times the budget. The interiors and exteriors of Harlem nightclubs and Third Reich headquarters never looked more accurate or better lit. I agree that there is some mis-casting, and while the acting isn't Oscar caliber, it isn't bad either. As far as being a movie for boxing fans only--no. I have no interest whatsoever in sports, and found the story compelling. The wider influence that sports has on society is an interesting context. Max Snelling getting big corporate sponsorship just months after honing a reputation as one of the worlds most hated personas--brings to mind parallels in todays celebrity-driven scene.
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Not just for boxing fans!
newbs_thats_me31 January 2006
This is an excellent film that deals with historical issues throughout the war years as well as the lives of these two great sports men. It also portrays the themes of love, friendship and triumph over adversity- not just the boxing matches! I really enjoyed it so the statement that its just for boxing fans is completely irrelevant. The story itself is very emotional. it really draws you into the plot and forces you to empathise with the characters as they live through the injustices of the second world war and also face such issues as racism and a stereotypical view of people at the time. I also really loved the fact that it remains historically correct when it examines the lives of both Max Schmeling and Joe Lewis. I'm sure there is a certain degree of sensationalising done for the film but it pretty much retells an accurate story. Overall a great film.
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The movie narrates the historical boxing confrontation between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling
ma-cortes12 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The film is correctly based on true events, it concerns about Joe Louis(Leonard Roberts),the American Brown Bomber and Max Schmeling(Til Schweiger),the strongest man in Germany.Joe Louis was United States' most successful heavyweight boxer and champion of the world until his defeat by Rocky Marciano with led to downfall,his wife((Siena Gaines) separation and towards the end of his life.Most experts had predicted that the black boxer would have no trouble with the aging German.Schmeling was the only German to hold the heavyweight championship of the world .His victory over Joe Louis in N.Y. in the summer of 1936 was greeted with an explosion of joy in the Third Reich.Nazi propagandists ,however, insisted that regarded as the strongest on earth could not be beaten by a Negro.Both Hitler(Rolf Kaines) and Joseph Goebbels(Wilfried Hoch),Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda sent Schleming telegrams of congratulations.An extraordinary welcome was arranged for the German Boxer on his return home.From that point he became a display figure for Nazi propagandists, who hailed his victory as a triumph for the Nordic race over inferior black athletes.But German boxing fans were crushed when was received that in a return bout on June 22,1938,the engagement was arranged at Yankee stadium.In this grudge combat Louis hurled himself at the German with unrestrained fury.Louis gave him a fearful beating in the second shortest fight heavyweight history.The consternation was matched by another disappointment when it was revealed that Annie Ondra(Peta Wilson),the tall,big-boned,blond German woman and besides a famous actress,who was regarded as the ideal specimen of Aryan womanhood,was actually Jewish.Later Schmeling recruited in the German Army.On May 20,1941 ,he was one of the parachutists who jumped from transport planes to occupy Crete in a brilliant assault.From 1957 on he was the owner of an American Coca Cola franchise and retained his popularity as a great sports figure in both USA and Germany. The picture has a magnificent acting by all the cast and especially the duo protagonist(Roberts and Schweiger).Atmospheric music by Jeff Beal and excellent cinematography by Bill Butler.The motion picture is well directed by Steve James. Rating: Notable and well worth watching.
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moving historical drama
wolfiamadeus25 September 2005
I live in Austria and saw the film until a few minutes ago for the first time via satellite broad casted on German television. I think the film shows how sport can be used and abused in a political way and when you stop winning people tend to forget you. I found the film very moving because parts of it reminded me of what my grandmother told me about the war and about the rebuilding of our city and often a lot of unright things happened to people because they were accused of being Nazis after the war like max schmeling was in the movie. it also shows how heroes are sometimes treated because Joe louis did a lot for his motherland in ww2 and later nobody helped him when he needed help. its sad that such things can happen to people who have served their home country so well. Its nice that he was honored after his life but he hasn't had it easier during his life though. This film brought up a lot of emotion in me although i didn't even plan to watch it, i just zapped in. I would recommend it to everybody and i'll give it a clear 10
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Enjoyed it
edeck24 February 2005
I follow boxing to some extent, and have always been captivated by the Louis-Schmeling fights. However, I was unaware that Max was alive until just a few weeks ago. The movie does a good job based on the fact surrounding and leading up to the fight. As one poster mentioned earlier, they didn't note Max being champ in 1930, I believe. He beat James Braddock by DQ, then defended once, and lost to Braddock in rematch in controversial decision. I highly recommend this movie. The situation these two men were in had to be highly stressful. Louis defending his race and his nation, Max supposedly defending Nazi Germany and the White Race. Neither one appeared comfortable in those roles.
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Not bad actually pretty good
Big Cat 1211 March 2002
I liked the show. I know something about boxing and I far as I know, it was pretty accurate.

One thing though-Max Schmeling was an ex-world heavyweight champion before he fought Joe Lewis and I don't believe that was mentioned in the movie. The part when Max saved the Jewish family from the Nazis was fairly accurate, as was the fact that Max did much better than Joe after their boxing careers ended.
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Boxing against Nazism
nablaquadro29 December 2006
Always loved sports movie about boxing, from the masterpieces to B-movies about kick-boxing.

Joe & Max apparently is a made-for-TV movie, with a low budget and then unpretentious. Perhaps it's so, but does money really matter so much ? I think no. Boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling were friends beyond the politics, the obtuse ideologies and war; but rivals just on the ring. The fighting scenes were shot with a look to the old footages, in black and white, gifting a credible appearance to the whole action parts. Interesting the relation between Max and his wife, their spirit of sacrifice against government, racism and the dirty propaganda elevating Joe as Nazism's pride.

The stage designing is a little too simple, so the city looks a bit fake, but it's not a damage. An enjoyable mix of sport drama and history inside an "impossible" friendship.
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Pretty interesting--particularly if you are unacquainted with the athletes.
MartinHafer27 June 2011
This film is the dramatization of events in the lives of heavyweight boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling--and focusing particularly on their fights and subsequent friendship--though the latter is only vaguely addressed at the very end of the film. In fact, I wished the film had focused on this more as the title seems to imply this would be addressed. Still, the film makers did a nice job assembling the film--and it's worth seeing. As for me, I enjoyed this film very much, though I also think it's designed to be watched by viewers who really don't know all that much about Max Schemling and Joe Louis. That's because there were a lot of facts about the two men that were not mentioned in the movie. In most cases, this wasn't that important, though it was odd that considering the title of the movie they didn't mention that due to Louis' finances, Schmeling actually helped pay for Louis' funeral.

By the way, it's a minor thing but I thought the matte paintings used in the film were really poor. They simply looked like paintings--and my daughter noticed this as well. Also, after Louis lost the first match against Schmeling, it appeared in the film as if Louis was then given a chance at the title (an odd thing considering the loss). Well, this was not the case, as Louis fought eight more fights before the title match.
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Good story, bad film
btm12 March 2009
The true story of the relationship between world heavyweight champion Joe Louis and European heavyweight champion Max Schmelling is one of the "truth is stranger than fiction" variety. In their first meeting in 1936, a young Joe Lewis was the leading contender for a title shot while the 10 years older German Schmelling was the European champion. When underdog Schmelling defeated Lewis he reluctantly became a propaganda icon for Hitlers regime. Lewis at that time was the pride and hope of the "Negro race" (as people of African lineage were then called by decent people), but "white" America apparently was wary of him. After he beat Schmelling in the second fight Lewis became an idol of all America, while the embarrassed Nazis made Schmelling a non-entity in Nazi Germany. During the war Schmelling was made an ordinary soldier in the German Army, while Lewis' tour in the US Army was as a celebrity used for troop morale. Later, after Lewis retired undefeated, he learned that he owed a huge amount of money to the IRS and had to go back into boxing to try to rid himself of the debt. (The film does not get into the details, but supposedly Lewis, who was not well educated, had relied on his manager and promoter to handle his finances, including preparing tax returns.) But Lewis was too old now and was humiliated in the ring. He then took a variety of demeaning jobs in an attempt to pay off the debt, which he never was able to accomplish. The movie does not address the disgraceful issue of why no U.S. President gave him some sort of a pardon forgiving this American hero of the debt. In the meantime, Schmelling has a phoenix-like reversal of fortune when Coca Cola sought him out to use him in a campaign to capture the German market for its product.

So the basis for an interesting movie was there. The problem was in the implementation.

The film seemed badly paced and choppy. Many of the scenes seemed to me needlessly drawn out, with the camera sometimes lingering on objects, such as a railroad train for no reason that I can think of. The parts of the film I liked best are the scenes in with Schmelling (Til Schweiger) and his actress wife (Peta Wilson) in Germany.

As was noted in another comment, the actors looked nothing like the well known people they were portraying. Although not stated in the IMDb cast listing, it looked to me that different actors were used for the younger and older Joe Lewis, with neither resembling the real Joe Lewis nor even each other. Rocky Marciano, a short fireplug of a fighter with a battered face he got wading into his taller, longer armed opponents that often made him look more like the loser than the winner of his fights, was played by a tall unmarked fighter. The musical score does nothing to aid the movie.
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Doesn't tell ENOUGH of the truth
dunsuls-124 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The real story of these 2 boxing legends would take a TV series a few years to give it justice.This Starrz movie released in 2002 tries it in 106 minutes with a so so cast and a poor choice for the actor,Leonard Roberts as Joe Louis,who doesn't have the screen presence to portray such a legendary figure.However the story of these two men is so compelling that we should be happy for at least this effort by Starrz and enjoy it as such.Til Schweiger as Max Schmeling is a bit more believable since less is known by most about him.He was vilified as a "Nazi"and so this film tries to redefine that image of him and rightly so.Not shown in this film is the fact he helped paid for Joes funeral and although he is shown helping a Jewish neighbor in the film,the story is more compelling then shown.In total the film is a good start but the fact the IRS hounded Joe till his death is indeed a story for our times.Nether Joe or Max with without sin,but they were both heros and deserve to be remembered.
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"I'm no champ until I beat Max Schmeling." - Joe Louis
classicsoncall17 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I went into this film with some wariness knowing that it was a made for TV movie, and as such, it's good but not great. The story itself seems to be told fairly accurately, but when doing sports movies, film makers ought to be more attentive to supplying dates and historical perspective to what's going on. The picture opens with a 1936 Madison Square Garden match, but when it comes time for the anticipated first meeting between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, well when exactly was it? The same holds true for the Braddock - Louis title fight (6/22/37) and the Louis defense against Schmeling exactly a year later (6/22/38). I know the dates because I just looked it up, but some mention in the picture would have been welcome.

Probably the best aspect of the movie, at least for me, was the way it handled the issues of race and in Schmeling's case, the propaganda value of a German upholding the concept of the Master Race. To his credit, Schmeling defied the Nazi regime as ably as he could, and had he been a mediocre athlete, probably would have suffered a meteoric fall from the public eye. The German champ defied Hitler and Goebels by remaining loyal to his Jewish manager, and on the flip side, Joe Jacobs (David Paymer) had to endure accusations of being a traitor to the American cause during the run up to World War II.

As for Louis, the film barely scratched the surface of his life and career, but then again, the focus was on the rivalry between two accomplished athletes. Even so, the real life Joe Louis was a notorious womanizer, something that was barely hinted at when his wife Marva (Siena Goines) confronted one of her husband's girlfriends. Often in these sports biopics, sensationalism runs just the opposite, as in 1992's "The Babe" on the career of Babe Ruth starring John Goodman.

In my review of the 1953 film "The Joe Louis Story", I voiced the opinion that a modern day treatment of the former champion, if done right, could be a sensational film. Unfortunately this one misses the mark with some eclectic casting and a look that's just a bit too flashy and modern looking in it's representation of the 1930's. Nevertheless it's a watchable story and a fairly good springboard to the careers of Louis and Schmeling for anyone interested in digging deeper.
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Preaching to the Converted
Allan FINEBERG11 March 2002
Joe and Max is an okay, upbeat movie that seeks to put across a message: Brotherhood is Nice; or perhaps Why Can't We All Just Get Along? It's a film in which it is clear who are the good guys and who are the bad. Hitler, Goebbels and all those folks strutting around Heil-Hitlering, doing the goose step and wearing the swastika armband are bad. Hiss. The good guys are Joe Louis and Max Schmelling and pretty much everyone who doesn't do the things mentioned in the previous sentence. Yay.

The problem with message films like this is that they need a little more than that to retain the viewer's interest. Things like character development, sex or good scenery. Joe and Max has none of these things, so it's a matter of preaching the message of brotherhood to those who already believe in that, else they wouldn't be watching the picture in the first place.

Everybody in the film seems to be earnestly acting their hearts out, and I must say the guy who plays Hitler is great: his Hitler is really creepy and scary-looking.

All in all, it's not a bad film, but maybe you could spend your time doing something more worthwhile than watching Joe and Max bonding with one another.
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Potentially good story, poorly executed.
tomfloyd200210 March 2002
A historical account of boxers Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling, America's democracy vs Hitler's nazis, black race vs white race, sprinkled with the German supremist attitude demonstrated by showing the persecution of jews & blacks. Both fighters are shown to have accomplished careers in the boxing ring, Schmeling becoming the European champion and Louis becoming the World champion. When they meet Schmeling takes the first bout in 1936, and Louis hospitalizes Schmeling in the 1938 rematch. Then problems in Louis' personnel life overshadow his athletic accomplishments culminating in his divorce and insurmountable debt to the IRS. Schmeling survives being hunted in WW II by american GI's who despise him for being perceived as a publicly visible Nazi. He is then hired by post war Coca-Cola as a spokesman and begins living a stable successful life. Max hears of Joe's hard times, locates him and kindles a friendship with his former opponent, which lasts until Joe's death in 1981.

The movie fails to deliver. Acting is mediocre, the lines are not compelling; I kept waiting for the movie to "get going", but it never did. The story is historically interesting, but dry in presentation.
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Really enjoyed this movie
lawkansas29 May 2014
Had heard some things about both men, but this movie brought it all into focus. From beginning to end, this movie made me feel good about both fighters by showing their personal lives and their relationship with each other. They both had plenty of ups and downs, and here it is all put into perspective. This is a film for sports fans and it will also appeal to a much broader audience as well.

The music helps the story portrayed here, and the actors realize their place in history. Both men are solid citizens above and beyond their occupations and nationalities.

I particularly liked the scene in which Max comes to the south side of Chicago when searching for Joe. They find each other, and the dialog is excellent.
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Oh! What a blown opportunity!
fugu_28624 September 2002
This could have been a great movie. All the elements where there. But this just ended up being too rushed with mediocre acting and uninspiring scenes. And there were a few things that just never happened. Like Schmeling going off on those MP's, oh please. Yes, the Allied occupation authorities did get on Max's case about building without a permit but anybody who's read Max's bio (highly recommended!) would know the issue was resolved peacefully. Max's wife somehow becomes an ego-centric Nazi b*** and the relationship between the movie's namesakes seems cold. Max appears to pity Louis more than he respects him. The extras in the film are notoriously bad, especially the 6'2" (!) Marciano who appears to be TALLER than Louis! And what about Max's experience as a paratrooper in Crete? They spend all of one minute on that. Scenes just flash by. Err, read "Max Schmeling: An Autobigraphy".
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Why it is Important to get a Good Extras!
caspian197828 March 2002
Yes, this is a good movie. Yes, it had good leading and supporting actors. But why did they cast some of the worst extras in motion picture history. For starters, when you have to cast a Rocky Marciano extra for a film, do yourself a favor and cast an Italian actor! Even if he's not Italian, get an actor who looks like Rocky Marciano! This is one of the reasons why this film sticks out in the viewers mind. Like Bret Favres' acting in Something About Mary, the extras in this film stood out as wrong for the roles. They casted a 6'3, Irish looking, skinny actor to play a 5'8 heavy weight Italian Rocky Marciano. Even the guy who played Hitler seemed too wrong for the role. Not as evil as history predicts. The guy they got to play Hitler looked like a short, German actor with a bad mustache. Anyway, the overall point is that every factor of a film matters. From the little things to the big picture, everything counts.
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The flick can't be seen in Germany...
GMTMaster12 February 2004
A movie about Germany's greatest box champion, played by Germany's biggest box office star - at least some time ago - and it can't be seen in Germany. This summons up the quality of the flick and the actors, don't you think...?!
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For boxing fans only
George Parker15 January 2003
"Joe and Max" tells the true story of two champion boxers who fight each other in the ring while forming a bond of friendship and mutual respect outside the ring. Full of unrealized ironic potential with men of different color finding common ground in a world driven to war in part by racial division, "Joe and Max" has the usual short-comings of made-for-tv docudramas; low budgetness, melodrama, stiff portrayals, poor character development, historical inaccuracies, etc. "Joe and Max" probably has minimal value beyond edification for boxing fans. (C+)
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