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Gentleman Flynn

18 Apr


GENTLEMAN FLYNN
THE FRONT ROW
NEW YORKER MAGAZINE | 2011

Transcript of “Richard Brody on Raoul Walsh’s “Gentleman Jim” (See Video in red link above.)

[Gentleman Jim’s manager, Billy Delaney/William Frawley] Hey, what’s the idea Choynski, where’s your boxing gloves?

[Joe Choynski’s Manager] He lost ’em, that’s what he did, He lost ’em

[Referee] Yeah, well he can’t fight with those.

[Billy Delaney] Aw, nix on that. We won’t fight you without regulation gloves.

[Errol/Gentleman Jim] Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Billy. He can use gloves, no gloves, bare knuckles. He can use a baseball bat if he wants. Let’s get started.

[Richard Brody] I’m Richard Brody and this clip is from Gentleman Jim, a 1942 film directed by Raoul Walsh. It’s a biopic about James J. Corbett, a late 19th century boxer who came
from a rough Irish immigrant family in San Francisco, and yet brought a new level of refinement and gentility to the sport of boxing.

[whistling]

It stars Errol Flynn as a young man with an exuberant excessive swagger. He starts out as a bank teller who had cultivated his pugilistic skills through family brawls and hasn’t yet had a chance to put them on public display. At the same time, he has social climbing ambitions and makes use of an unanticipated connection with an heiress to get himself introduced into the Olympic Club. There, he finally gets to show off his skills and become something of a local celebrity.

Walsh takes pleasure in the rough-hewn media
of illegal prize fighting. The movie is filled with a jaunty and exuberant rowdiness.

[John L. Sullivan] I’ll meet any man who will stand on his own two feet, and if you had about 30 pounds more on you, you’d be the first one sir.

[Errol] I’ll return the compliment Mr. Sullivan, if you’d fight me, I’d just wish you were five years younger.

[Sullivan] What do you mean by that?

[Errol]Not much fun winning the championship from a guy who’s practically tripping over his beard.

[Richard Brody] In this scene, Corbett is trying to get himself a match for the heavyweight title
with the great fighter, John L. Sullivan,a harsh, aggressive, somewhat crude Boston man
who was intensely proud and nearing the end of his career and had no intention of fighting the young peacock. ..But Corbett applies his non-boxing skills to find his way into the ring with him.

[Sullivan] Call the newspaper boys in. I’ll fight that blabbermouth anytime, anywhere.

[crowd cheers]

[Richard Brody] There’s something special about the character of Corbett. He seems peculiarly modern, in fact, even more modern than Walsh imagined. Unlike the other boxers he faces,
he isn’t just a brawler, he’s a dancer, he’s a master of fancy footwork. And with his fancy footwork comes high-flowing verbiage, the ability to use taunting to get under his opponent’s skin and, with his confection of his public image and his careful attention to his appearance, Corbett seems nothing less
than a precursor to Mohammad Ali.

[boxing bell rings]

[crowd cheers]

— Gentleman Tim

 

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