Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It's Boxing Day!

Today in some parts of the world it is Boxing Day. We don't celebrate this longstanding occasion in the U.S., but it is observed in The United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and a few other places. While those nations celebrate the occasion with charity events, sport or effusive shopping (a sport in itself!), The Underworld, naturally, has its own way... Today, we're going to go a few rounds with some celebrities all suited up for boxing! (Now don't run away just because the first picture is from Muhammad Ali's 1977 bio-pic The Greatest. There's far more than just that here today.)

Darn near as old modern cinema itself, boxing has been the subject of many a movie over the years. Here, we see silent film star William Haines taking a breather in-between sparring. Most of us know that Haines was a major leading man (and close friend of Joan Crawford's) who left the biz rather than deny his homosexuality (and his longtime partner.) He went on to a successful second career as an interior designer.
In the 1920s, Reginald Denny played a boxer in part of a series of boxing shorts films called The Leather Pushers.
Kane Richmond was a 1930s and '40s star of several movie serials (sort of like miniseries, but on the big screen, with an installment each week.) The first one in which he had a starring part was 1931's The Leather Pushers, a redux of the earlier boxing project.
He certainly has a lean, brooding look in this shot. Love the intense eyes (and, look, his mama has sewn a widdle boxing glove on his trunks! How cute!)
Legendary pacifist Lew Ayres played a boxer named Kid Mason in the 1931 film Iron Man. His wife in the picture was played by Jean Harlow, just on the cusp of stardom. One of his other films that year was the monumental All Quiet on the Western Front.
1931 was also the year The Champ came out, which starred Wallace Beery in an iconic role, for which he won an Oscar. His prize-fighting character was the single parent of a little boy played by Jackie Cooper.
Here, we see Cooper a decade or more after The Champ, practicing his right hook...
...and left hook in the backyard. Cooper had less than fond memories of Beery's selfish, scene-stealing ways. The same year as The Champ, Cooper was nominated (at the age of nine, the youngest ever!) for a Best Actor Oscar for Skippy, a movie in which his uncle the director pretended to shoot his beloved dog in order to elicit convincing tears! Lionel Barrymore won the award for A Free Soul. Some of you might recall Cooper later as Perry White in all of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies.
James Ellison was a leading man in the 1930s through the 1950s, usually in westerns, but here he is in boxing gear for an early role.
Petite, but pugnacious, James Cagney played a boxer in 1932's Winner Take All.
The King of Hollywood, Clark Gable, played a boxer more than once in his career. Here he is younger, sans moustache...
...and here he is in 1936's San Francisco, going a round or two with Spencer Tracy. Tracy looks remarkably fit here and even has a bit of junk in his trunk!
From the King to the Duke, here's John Wayne putting his up for a fight.
1937's They Made Me a Criminal had John Garfield as a boxer who goes on the lam when he believes he killed someone while he was drunk.  Johnny is looking very cute here!  (And Beulah Bondhi seems to be checking things out for herself!)
One of the most famous photos of a movie boxer is the one of John Payne lying in the corner of the ring with his legs spread, the light hitting him just so in the crotch. Presuming you've all seen that one, I give you another shot with a different pose.
And between rounds in the ring, Payne takes time out for a chat with fellow actor Ronald Reagan in this picture.
Here, we see '40s and '50s leading man Dane Clark taking a turn (training) in the ring. Note the marks on the floor instructing him where to stand for the next camera set-up.
Though best known for his cuddly roles in Disney movies and on the long-running sitcom My Three Sons, Fred MacMurray was estimably handsome in his day, particularly in boxing trunks.
Canada Lee was a real-life boxer who went on to work in motion pictures, most notably in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944) and Body and Soul (1947) with John Garfield.
Robert Ryan had played a pugilist in 1940's Golden Gloves, but did so more famously in 1949's The Set-Up. While I like Ryan's acting, I rarely find him physically attractive, but there's something kind of sexy about his roughed-up look here.
Kirk Douglas received an Oscar nomination for his role as a boxer in 1949's Champion.
It was his first nomination (of three), but he lost to Broderick Crawford in All the King's Men. Douglas took home an honorary Oscar in 1996 for his fifty years of work in the movie business.
Always-fit actor Ricardo Montalban donned gloves for the 1950 film Right Cross.
Jeff Chandler played a boxer in 1951's Iron Man, a remake of Lew Ayres' 1930 film. His character's name was Coke Mason (so many boxers had catchy/corny names in the movies and, presumably, in real life!)
Chandler was posthumously accused of being a cross-dresser by Esther Williams in her controversial autobiography, but wasn't around to give her a punch in the nose for revealing/alleging such a thing (depending on what you believe!)
I love this picture of Robert Mitchum, ever laid-back, taking a break from a punch-fest.
Movie tough guy Ralph Meeker played a boxer named Socks Barbarrosa in 1952's Glory Alley.
That same year saw the release of The Fighter, starring Richard Conte as a Mexican fighter using his winnings to finance the revenge on those who killed his family.
Joe Kirkwood played famous comic strip boxer Joe Palooka in eleven films and a 1950s TV series! He retired from show business shortly thereafter.
Anyone know the man in boxing garb shown below?
He was a 1940s and '50s actor, known for playing Kit Carson on TV. He married Barbara Hale (of Perry Mason fame) and together they had a son known as William Katt. The actor shown is Bill Williams and he was rather handsome back in the day! (You can see plenty of Katt in his face, too.)

Sterling Hayden was lauded for his looks and physique during his days as an actor. Though boating was his primary passion, he also spent time in the gym.
Real-life boxer Rocky Graziano was portrayed by Paul Newman in the 1956 film Somebody Up There Likes Me.
The film was in black and white, but here's a rare color shot of Newman (without the facial applications he wore to better resemble the punchy character.)
Highly-decorated war hero-turned-actor Audie Murphy starred in 1956's World in My Corner.
1950s pretty boys often turned to the world of boxing movies in order to build their credibility as he-men. Tony Curtis played a pugilist named Packy Glennon in 1955's The Square Jungle.
Adorable Dewey Martin played the title character in Tennessee Champ (1954.) In the top photo he's being given a pep talk by Keenan Wynn. In the bottom photo, he's given the once-over by assistant Earl Holliman.
Here, Rock Hudson gives someone a right hook.
Elvis got in on the act, too, with 1962's Kid Galahad. Do you recognize the man to the left of him (in between Elvis and Gig Young?)
That's Charles Bronson in an early role.

1960s rough and tumble cutie Robert Conrad boxed frequently in his off time to maintain his physique.
In Cool Hand Luke (1967), Paul Newman was back at it again, this time in prison.
James Earl Jones had a tremendous success on stage and on screen in 1970's The Great White Hope. He won a Tony for it and even scored an Oscar nomination, but the statuette went to George C. Scott in Patton (who didn't even want it and, in fact, refused it!)
In 1973, Jon Voight played a young boxing hopeful in The All-American Boy.
Of course, he is far better associated with boxing from the 1979 remake of Wallace Beery's The Champ.
He and Ricky Schroeder, as his tow-headed, devoted son, broke hearts all over the place in the heartwarming film.
Of course, The Champ was really remade at that time to ride the wave of success that Sylvester Stallone had enjoyed as Rocky (1976.)
Stallone was nominated as Best Actor for Rocky, but the (deceased) Peter Finch won that year for Network.
There was ultimately a whole string of Rocky films. His two-time competitor was played by Carl Weathers, who had quite a physique.
Of course, I was a bit more drawn to the towering Dolph Lundgren, who battled Stallone in Rocky IV (1985.)
Also riding the boxing wave of Rocky was 1979's The Main Event, a comedy (allegedly!) about Ryan O'Neal being trained by the unlikely coach Barbra Streisand.
That same year, O.J. Simpson made one of two films concerning the same character, Joe Gallagher.  Goldie and the Boxer was followed two years later by Goldie and the Boxer Go to Hollywood.  (Apparently, the franchise ended before they could film "Goldie and the Boxer Go to Mars.")
Robert DeNiro won an Oscar for portraying Jake La Motta in Raging Bull (1980.)
1983 brought two TV-movies about boxing.  Delectable Gregory Harrison was The Fighter...
...while Treat Williams (nearly unrecognizable) played Jack Dempsey in Dempsey.
An early role for Craig Sheffer came in 1988's Split Decisions, playing a boxer trying to follow in his deceased brother's footsteps.
Probably my very own favorite boxing movie is 1942's Gentleman Jim, all about Jim Corbett, played by Errol Flynn.
I don't know if any still photo can truly capture the roguish charm that Flynn possessed.
He was a dashing, gorgeous, enormously appealing presence on the cinema screen (despite his real-life disposition towards all sorts of trouble!)
I love Flynn in almost any of his 1930s and '40s movies, but this is close to my favorite one.
These shots show off his cute little boxing trousers. If they wore these now, I might occasionally take in a fight (which, for the record, I do not enjoy!)
In this one, you can even see the head of Errol Jr. Boxing movies show lots of chest and leg, but rarely any bulges.
I saved another goodie for the end, knowing how so many of my loyal readers admire the beauty of silent (and, later, sound) actor George O'Brien, a boxer in real-life prior to acting.
Here, he and his super-crotch are on display as he enacts the role of a boxing champion in 1927's Is Zat So? Whether or not you celebrate Boxing Day, I hope you had fun with these pictures!


joel65913 said...

Good post as always.

Thanks for the picture of John Garfield, he does indeed look quite good but I've always found him very attractive and sexy.

John Payne was another quite striking, broad shouldered guy who the studios thankfully found ways to strip to the waist often although I could have lived without seeing Reagan without his shirt my whole life.

You did miss one movie, an obscure one to be sure but one that is streaming on Netflix now called The Leather Saint. It stars John Derek as a priest who is also a boxer! The storyline is something along the lines that he boxes for God or some such ridiculousness but it costars the great Paul Douglas and Derek is at the height of his beauty so its not painful to sit through.

As far as the Jeff Chandler story goes that horrible woman has since admitted she made up the story to sell more copies of her book. I don't mean to say she's terrible because I think there's something wrong with people who cross dress, it's not something I understand the desire to do but its that person's personal choice and business. My problems with it are that she fabricated the story against someone who couldn't dispute it and smeared somebody that she had been seriously involved with when he was living. I lost a great deal of respect for her at the time the book was out for exposing something that at the time was apparently true but would have been an extremely painful secret for a person to carry and conceal in the 50's and certainly wasn't her place to reveal. When it came out that she had falsified the story what little respect was left was completely gone. Perhaps she had a score to settle but nonetheless a shoddy and classless act.

Hope your holidays were great! Happy New Year!

Poseidon3 said...

I definitely considered John Derek for this post, but I had already posted three pictures of him in boxing gear on his own tribute page:

So I left it at that. If you haven't seen that page, you need to as there are many great shirtless shots of him and others of his gorgeous face!

It's so odd about Esther and that book. To me, the more intriguing bits of gossip involved listening to Fernando Lamas and Lana Turner getting it on next door and her fending off a libidinous Johnny Weissmuller during their Aquacade days. We didn't need the Jeff Chandler stuff. And, besides, apart from you, me and a certain number of diehard classic film fans, most people don't even know who he was!! He is not a big name on the level of other actors, mostly thanks to his premature death and lack of truly enduring films. Something like that would have been more sensational had she told it about John Wayne, Clark Gable or something! It's weird...

When I write my book, I'm only telling the truth! LOL