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(Review originally written at 27 September 2008)

The fact that Edison and co. had gotten James Corbett to appear in front of the camera must have been a big break for them. Corbett was the heavy weight champion at the time (he had just defended his title against Charley Mitchell, prior to this movie) and he on top of that also was one of the most popular and best known boxers at the time. He's better known under the nickname Gentleman Jim and is being credited as the 'father of modern boxing'. He is being portrayed by Errol Flynn in the boxing movie "Gentleman Jim", from 1942.

In this boxing match he is competing against an 'underdog', Peter Courtney. Originally the entire movie consisted out of six one minute rounds to be displayed all one by one but now days only a small portion of only a few seconds of the movie has survived. A real shame, since I'm sure that boxing fans now days are still willing to pay an handsome amount of money just to see James Corbett boxing a whole match. Still it must also be noted that the fight was probably fixed though in advance. The Edison Manufacturing Company needed 6 rounds, so Corbett was probably holding back a little during shooting.

In the surviving bit of the movie you can see him deliver some punches, in his very powerful and technical superior (at least for its time) way. It wasn't the last boxing match in front of a 'camera' Corbett appeared in and after his career he actually became an early movie star but not a real successful one though. So this movie is not the only one that shows Gentleman Jim in live moving action.

Filming boxing matches was actually the most profitable thing they ever did for the movie pioneer boys from the Edison Manufacturing Company. As a matter of fact, this particular movie was actually the most profitable one they ever made during the kinetoscope era. Because boxing was illegal in some states at the time, they could sell these shot boxing matches, which could be played on a Kinetograph (lets say a 20th century TV-set). People then were able to view a match, for a certain amount of money. For this purpose they founded the Kinetoscope Exhibiting Company, which also developed and created new special kinetoscopes, which could play movies of a minute long. Before this the movie could only display movies for 30 seconds tops. This wasn't the first boxing match they had filmed and that honor must go to "Leonard-Cushing Fight", from earlier in the year.

It's great to see the legendary Gentleman Jim in live action in this movie, or what is left of it though.

8/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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