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The Joe Louis Story (1953)

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.


Robert Gordon


Robert Sylvester (original screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Coley Wallace Coley Wallace ... Joe Louis
Paul Stewart ... Tad McGeehan
Hilda Simms ... Marva Louis
James Edwards ... 'Chappie' Blackburn
John Marley ... Mannie Seamon
Dots Johnson Dots Johnson ... Julian Black (as Dotts Johnson)
Evelyn Ellis Evelyn Ellis ... Mrs. Barrows
Carl 'Rocky' Latimer Carl 'Rocky' Latimer ... Arthur Pine
John Marriott John Marriott ... Sam Langford
Ike Jones Ike Jones ... Johnny Kingston (as Isaac Jones)
P. Jay Sidney P. Jay Sidney ... John Roxborough
Royal Beal Royal Beal ... Mike Jacobs
Herbert Ratner Herbert Ratner ... Newspaper man (as Herb Ratner)
Ruby Goldstein Ruby Goldstein ... Ruby Goldstein
Norman Rose Norman Rose ... Lieutenant


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!


Unrated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 September 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A História de Joe Louis See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Walter P. Chrysler Jr. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The fictional columnist Tad McGeehan appears to be based upon Jimmy Cannon (1909 - 1973), a sports columnist who famously quipped that Joe Louis was "a credit to his race - the human race." The quote itself is paraphrased in McGeehan's narration. 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 »


[first lines]
Newspaper man: Tad, you missed the greatest fight of the year. This Marciano's another Dempsy. Louis is through for real now. He should've quit while he was ahead. What are you doing here? I thought you were goin' home. Well, Rocky almost knocked him out of the ring. The kid's got a punch like a ten-ton truck! He'll be the next champ for sure. Well, I'd better go write my story.
Tad McGeehan: Lou... I'll write the story.
Newspaper man: But you didn't see the fight.
Tad McGeehan: I'll write the real story.
See more »


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


I'll Be Around
by Alec Wilder
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User Reviews

A sense of balance
6 August 2007 | by sol1218See all my reviews

The Joe Louis story is told in a long flashback that takes up almost the entire movie by Joe's, Coley Wallace, friend and sports writer Ted McGeeham, Paul Stewart.

The film starts with a young Joe Louis spending his money for violin lessons that his mom Mrs. Barrows, Evelyen Ellis, gave him to sharpen his skills as a professional prize fighter at a local Detroit gym and it doesn't take long for Joe to be recognized as the champ that he eventually become. Hooking up with Jack "Chappie" Blackburn, James Edwards, as his trainer/manager Joe runs up a winning streak that has him knock out two former heavyweight champions Primo Carnera and Max Baer.

Joe looking forward to take on the champ James Braddock has a tune up match with, what everybody thought at the time, washed up heavyweight and also former champ Max Schmeling on June 19, 1936 at New Yorks Yankee Staduim. Schmeling had seen films of Joe's fights and saw that he was a sucker for a right cross, Joe dropped his left hand whenever he threw a jab. Taking advantage of Joe's momentary lapses in the ring Schmeling caught Joe flat-footed with a number of powerful straight rights,over Joe's jabs, and knocked him out in the 12th round; that was the first time Joe Louis ever lost a professional boxing match.

After the Schmeling bout Joe started taking his boxing seriously not taking for granted that he can knock out or defeat anyone that he's in with in the ring. Still Joe was given a chance to fight James Broddock for the heavyweight championship despite being beaten by Max Schmeling, who more then Joe really deserved to fight the Champ, in Chicago on June 22, 1937. Joe being knocked down by Braddock early in the match finished Broddock by flooring him in the eight round winning the heavyweight championship of the world. The stage was now set for the long awaited re-match with Max Schmeling that was to take place exactly a year from when Joe Louis won the championship on June 22, 1938 at Yankee Stadium. This time around it was Schmeling not Joe that got suckered and punched silly, with both rights and lefts, being knocked out by Joe in 2.04 of the first round.

The film skims over most of Joe Louis' 25 defenses of his Heavyweight Championship Crown with him making a comeback in 1950, after he retired from boxing, and getting badly beaten by the then Heavyweight Champ Ezzard Charles in a 15 round decision at Yankee Staduim. Needing money to pay off his some $500,000.00 in back taxes Joe kept on fighting long after he should have hung up his gloves and ended his career on October 26, 1951 at Madison Square Garden. It was then that Joe was matched against the hard hitting 28 year old Brockton MA. slugger Rocky Marciano.

You could see right away that the 218 pound, some 20 pounds over his normal fighting weight, Louis was vastly outmatched with Marciano bulling and manhandling him all around the ring. Joe did catch Rocky with a number of punches, including his lethal left hook and right cross, but they had absolutely no effect on the Brockton Blockbuster. In the eight round Marciano caught Joe with a leaping left hook knocking him down, and almost out, on the seat of his trunks. Taking the eight count Joe tried to survive the round only to get caught on the ropes and knocked out of the ring by a Marciano right that spelled curtains to Joe Louis' 17 year professional boxing career.

Fine performance by Coley Wallace as Joe Louis as well as both James Edwards and John Marly as Joe's trainers Chappie Blackburn and Mannie Seamon. It was Mannie Seamon who took over training Joe after Chappie Blackburn died while Joe was serving overseas in the US Army during WWII. There's also Paul Stewart as sports writer Ted McGeehan who try as he did couldn't get Joe to retire from boxing that lead to him getting his brains scrambled by the likes of Charles and Marciano.

P.S even though it's said that Corley Wallace who played Joe Louis in the movie was the only boxer to defeat Rocky Marciano as an armature, Marciano was never beaten as a professional fighter, the records dispute that. Besides being beaten in a three round decision by Wallace on March 1, 1948 Marciano had lost three times previously as an armature. Marciano lost by a DQ, disquisition, to Ted Lester on April 15, 1946 as well as losing decisions to Joe D'Angelis on August 23, 1946 and Bob Girand on January 17, 1947.

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