The Square Jungle (1955) Poster

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It's a jungle in that ring
bkoganbing10 November 2013
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.
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Curtis and Borgnine do well enough with very familiar material
herbertatara13 June 2005
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.
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Worth, but not more...
searchanddestroy-117 September 2011
Warning: 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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Good Early Curtis Movie
RoboGarrett17 June 2018
This is a very overlooked but very good early movie by the great Tony Curtis. He plays a down and out young man whose dad is a horrible alcoholic, so he turns to boxing as a way to try to pick himself up. It is a pretty straight forward story where you'll see every turn coming but for its era it is a very decent film with some great acting by Curtis who of course went on to become a big star.
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Heavy-Handed But Effective
boblipton29 March 2023
Tony Curtis becomes the middleweight champion and puts his opponent, John Daheim, at death's door.

This was the period when Curtis was Universal's beefcake star, so there are several shots of him stripped to the waist. George Robinson's camerawork offers a lot of close-ups during the fight sequences. The effect is to disguise what is going on, so the audience can't see exactly what is going on, yet make them look even more brutal. Curtis shows himself an effective movie actor, performing with his body, often more convincingly than with his face or his words.

With Ernest Borginine, Jim Backus, Pat Crowley, Paul Kelly, David Jannsen, and a brief appearance by Joe Louis.
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Good Curtis, Borgnine, Daheim; lovely Crowley; run of the mill ringer
adrianovasconcelos11 December 2022
Borgnine reading books, working in what appears to be a municipal library, and quoting from the Talmud are the most unusual aspects about THE SQUARE JUNGLE. The fact that he is a former San Quentin inmate restores normality to his character. Also in 1955, he won the Oscar for MARTY, and those were the two flicks in which he played his most memorably decent characters of his acting career - and he did superbly in both, as it is much easier to act villain than good.

Pretty boy Curtis does his part competently enough, especially when he argues with his Dad, capably played by Jim Backus, Borgnine, and with copper Paul Kelly. He kisses lovely Crowley and seems to genuinely care for her, but one never really gets to know what bombshell Snowden amounted to in his heart, or even what her real aims were in seeking his company.

What is emphatically clear is that Curtis' boxing technique would never allow him to survive the first minute in a real ring.

Director Jerry Hopper, better known for his TV work than films, does a reasonable job, but he is not helped by the script. The fact that Curtis graduates from a fight at the local training center to earn $25 to pay his father's release from incarceration, to competing for middleweight champion of the world in about the same breath, forced me to suspend all my disbelief. Editing was nothing to write home about, either.

What made me watch the rest was that Daheim was a truly likeable opponent, married and with four children, and you just know something awful will be happening to him. You watch three fights between the two men where two would have sufficed and then some.

The boxing sequences suffer from the fact that I could not believe Curtis would make it as a street fighter, let alone a boxing world champion, but after a while I just tried to accept it and watched the rest amiably enough.

Good to see Joe Louis in the ring, albeit as a guest.

Time waser with nothing too memorable or that you ain't seen before.
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