Gentleman Jim Because boxing is a considered an illegal and disreputable enterprise in 1880’s San Francisco, wealthy and influential members of the prestigious Olympic Club vow to make the sport a “gentlemanly” one. They sponsor a brash, extroverted young bank clerk named Jim Corbett, who quickly becomes an accomplished fighter under the new Marquis of Queensbury Rules. Despite his success, the young Irish-American’s social pretensions and boastful manner soon estrange him from his benefactors, who plot to give their conceited former protégé a well-deserved comeuppance. Despite this, his dazzlingly innovative footwork helps him to beat a succession of bigger and stronger men, and he finally finds himself fighting for the world’s championship against his childhood idol, John L. Sullivan.
Possibly Flynn’s Best Role
Gentleman Jim In my humble opinion, this is Errol Flynn’s most entertaining film, especially when “Gentleman Jim” Corbett’s ring career begins in the film. Then it goes from a good film to a great one.
Few people could play arrogant men and still come off as a likable good guy as well as Flynn could and this film is a perfect example of that. Reportedly, this was Flynn’s favorite role and I believe that. You can just sense how much fun he was having here. Ward Bond also looks like he was really enjoying his role playing the famous John L. Sullivan. Bond, too, was never better.
There is just the right amount of action boxing scenes in here and they are pretty well done, too. Corbett’s family is fun to watch, too, as they carry on in the stands during Jim’s matches. Out of the arena, Corbett’s family’s constant arguments and yelling can get a little too loud and annoying but they set the stage for a fitting conclusion.
And speaking of the conclusion, Sullivan’s speech to Corbett after the big fight is very touching and the highlight of the film. Some mean-spirited critics (Variety, for example) didn’t like that ending nor the fact that much of the film is fictionalized but – duh – most films are fictionalized, like it or not. And, in this case, it made for a nice story and nice ending. (In real life, Corbett was a very soft-spoken true gentleman, not anything like Flynn’s portrayal, but Flynn still make him a good guy.)
This is one of the more entertaining classic films I have ever watched