Gentleman Jim (film)
Gentleman Jim is a 1942 film starring Errol Flynn as heavyweight boxing champion James J. Corbett (1866–1933). The supporting cast includes Alexis Smith, Jack Carson, Alan Hale, William Frawley, and Ward Bond. The movie was based upon Corbett's 1894 autobiography, The Roar of the Crowd, and directed by Raoul Walsh. The role was one of Flynn's favorites.
1942 theatrical poster
|Directed by||Raoul Walsh|
|Produced by||Robert Buckner|
|Written by||Vincent Lawrence|
|Based on||The Roar of the Crowd|
by James J. Corbett
|Music by||Heinz Roemheld|
|Edited by||Jack Killifer|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
$2 million (US rentals)
1,255,311 admissions (France)
In 1890s San Francisco, boxing is illegal. James J. Corbett (Errol Flynn), a brash young bank teller, attends a match with his friend Walter Lowrie (Jack Carson). When a police raid nets Judge Geary, a member of the board of directors of Corbett's bank, Corbett's fast talking gets his superior out of trouble. The judge is looking to improve the image of boxing by recruiting men from more respectable backgrounds and having them fight under the Marquess of Queensberry rules. He has even imported British coach Harry Watson (Rhys Williams) to evaluate prospects. Watson finds that Corbett, raised in a combative Irish immigrant family headed by Pat Corbett (Alan Hale), has excellent fighting skills; Geary likes his protégé's seemingly-polished manner.
However, Corbett's arrogance irritates many of the upper class, particularly Victoria Ware (Alexis Smith). They clash frequently, but Corbett is attracted to her, and his limitless self-confidence and charm eventually overcome her distaste for him.
Meanwhile, Corbett becomes a professional prizefighter. He acquires a manager, Billy Delaney (William Frawley), and introduces a new, more sophisticated style of boxing, emphasizing footwork over the unscientific brawling epitomized by world champion John L. Sullivan (Ward Bond). After winning several matches, Corbett finally gets the opportunity to take on the great man. Corbett's method of boxing baffles Sullivan, and Corbett wins not only the title, but also Victoria.
Corbett is crowned as the new Heavyweight Champion. His victory party is unexpectedly interrupted by the defeated Sullivan, who has come to personally present the championship belt to Corbett.
- Errol Flynn as James J. Corbett
- Alexis Smith as Victoria Ware
- Jack Carson as Walter Lowrie
- Alan Hale as Pat Corbett
- John Loder as Carlton De Witt
- William Frawley as Bill Delaney
- Minor Watson as Buck Ware
- Ward Bond as John L. Sullivan
- Madeleine Lebeau as Anna Held
- Rhys Williams as Harry Watson
- Arthur Shields as Father Burke
- Dorothy Vaughan as Ma Corbett
- Harry Crocker as Charles Crocker (uncredited)
- Art Foster as Jack Burke (uncredited)
- Pat Flaherty as Harry Corbett (uncredited)
- Frank Mayo as Gov. Stanford (uncredited)
- Henry O'Hara as Collis Huntington
- George Lloyd as Harrigan (uncredited)
- Mike Mazurki as Jake Kilrain (uncredited)
- Sammy Stein as Joe Choynski (uncredited)
In July 1941 it was announced that Warner Bros had purchased the rights to make a film of Corbett's life from his widow, Vera. Errol Flynn was intended to star. Aeneas MacKenzie and Wally Kline were signed to write the screenplay. Ann Sheridan was announced as female co-star.
Director Raoul Walsh had met Corbett when he was a young boy.
Filming was to start in January 1942, after which Flynn was to make The Sea Devil, a remake of The Sea Beast (Warner's version of Moby Dick). Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin, gag writers for Jack Benny, did some work on the script. Phil Silvers was announced in the support cast.
Flynn was very keen to make the movie and undertook extensive boxing training, working with Buster Wiles and Mushy Callahan. However, when the US officially entered World War II it was decided to postpone the movie so Flynn could be rushed into Desperate Journey. While he did this Horace McCoy rewrote the script. Vincent Lawrence then wrote some drafts and Robert Buckner was assigned to produce. There was some doubt the film would even be made if Flynn enlisted in the army but they rejected his application on the grounds of ill-health. Filming began in May 1942.
In his somewhat unreliable 1959 'autobiography' My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Flynn details how he suffered a mild heart attack while making this movie. He collapsed on set on 15 July 1942, while filming a boxing scene with Ward Bond. Filming had to be shut down while he recovered; he returned a week later.
Flynn took the role seriously, and was rarely doubled during the boxing sequences. Alexis Smith recounted in the biography The Two Lives of Errol Flynn by Michael Freedland how she took the star aside and told him, "'It's so silly, working all day and then playing all night and dissipating yourself. Don't you want to live a long life?' Errol was his usually apparently unconcerned self: 'I'm only interested in this half,' he told her. 'I don't care for the future.'"
This was the third Errol Flynn movie to gross at least $2 million for Warner Bros. in 1942, according to Variety.
According to Warners records, the film earned $1,775,000 domestically and $2,067,000 foreign.
Filmink magazine called the film "terrific fun and Flynn is splendid – he rarely acted with such infectious enjoyment and is obviously having the time of his life in the title role, a part which obviously was close to his real life personality: big headed, cocky, a bit of a prat, the sort of person who has himself paged all the time at a gym just for the thrill of hearing his name spoken out loud, but with a likeable sheen."
- Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 23 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
- "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
- Box office results of Raoul Walsh films in France at Box Office Story
- Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer * Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 116-117
- Douglas W. Churchill (17 July 1941). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Ernst Lubitsch Signs Ginger Rogers to Star in His First Production for Fox NEW FILM AT MUSIC HALL ' Tom, Dick and Harry' to Open Today -- Arnold Pressburger to Produce 'Saxophone'". The New York Times. p. 23.
- "Of Local Origin". New York Times. 29 July 1941. p. 18.
- "JIMMIE FIDLER IN HOLLYWOOD". Los Angeles Times. 4 Sep 1941. p. A10.
- Walsh, Raoul (1974). Each man in his time; the life story of a director. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 13.
- Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (12 Nov 1941). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Castings for 'There Goes Lona Henry' and 'Bombardier' Are Announced by RKO NEW YORK TOWN' OPENS Comedy Drama at Paramount Today -- Board of Review Conference Tomorrow". New York Times. p. 31.
- Schallert, Edwin (25 Nov 1941). "Kay Kyser Financial Record Now Soaring: 'Peter Pan' Moved Ahead Joan Merrill Reoptioned Gilbert Play Purchased Tim Holt Build-up Seen 'Legion' Nixes Garbo". Los Angeles Times. p. A10.
- Schallert, Edwin (20 Dec 1941). "Banquetless Academy Pushes Award Plans: Paramount After Hayes Laraine Day, Ayres Duo Silvers in Flynn Opus Carey Wins Two Roles Glover Cast With Kyser". Los Angeles Times. p. 9.
- Scheuer, Philip K (7 June 1942). "Town Called Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. p. C3.
- Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (31 Dec 1941). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Errol Flynn to Be Starred in 'Desperate Journey,' Soon to Go Before the Camera NEW GARBO FILM TODAY ' Two-Faced Woman' Arrives at the Capitol and 'Louisiana Purchase' at Paramount". New York Times. p. 22.
- Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (6 Feb 1942). "'The Yearling,' Abandoned Last Summer, Will Be Salvaged -- Roddy MacDowall Sought: NEW FILM DUE AT STRAND 'Wild Bill Hickok Rides' Will Open Today -- Two Revivals at the Irving Place". New York Times. p. 23.
- Schallert, Edwin (16 Apr 1942). "DRAMA: Pola Negri May Play in Story of Valentino". Los Angeles Times. p. A10.
- "Errol Flynn Collapses on Set". The New York Times. 16 July 1942. p. 22.
- "Jean Renoir, Dudley Nichols to Produce 'This Land Is Mine,' Film Story by the Former: MRS. MINIVER' GOES ON Record-Breaker at Music Hall, to Be Held for Eighth Week, Seen by 1,002,603 IN WAR ROLE". The New York Times. 21 July 1942. p. 22.
- "Gentleman Jim (1942)". Turner Classic Movies.
- Glancy, H. Mark. "Warner Bros film grosses, 1921–51." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. March 1995
- Vagg, Stephen (November 17, 2019). "The Films of Errol Flynn: Part 3 The War Years". Filmink.