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Joe Palooka, Champ 1946
Description: After losing heavyweight contender Al Costa to mob boss Florini war promoter Knobby Walsh recruits tiny city man Joe Palooka to take his place. First in the series.
Released: 28 May 1946 Director: Reginald Le Borg Writers: Cy Endfield (screenplay), Albert DePina (screenplay), Hal E. Chester (story), Ham Fisher (comic strip "Joe Palooka") Actors: Leon Errol, Joe Kirkwood Jr., Elyse Knox, Eduardo Ciannelli Genres: Comedy, Drama, Sport
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Joe Palooka, Champ Reviews:

"Joe Palooka, Champ" is the first in a series of 11 black and white films cranked out by Monogram Pictures (from 1946 through 1951) based on comic strip characters created by Ham Fisher.Producer Hal E. Chester (formerly a "Dead End Kid" in in films) corralled a far better-than-average cast (for a Monogram production ) which included Leon Errol, Elyse Knox, Eduardo Cianelli, Joe Sawyer, Elisha Cook, Jr., Warren Hymer, Robert Kent, Sarah Padden, Dave Willock, J. Farrell McDonald, Phillip Van Zandt, Betty Blythe, Carol Hughes and Jeff Corey! 6'1" blonde haired golfer Joe Kirkwood, Jr. was chosen to enjoy Joe Palooka. He essayed an easy-going charm which was quite ingratiating.Walk-on cameos by boxing greats Joe Louis, Henry Armstrong and Manuel Ortiz provided added allure to veteran director Reginald LeBorg's 70 minute "B" comedy/drama.The "tried and true" premise of this yarn involved war manager Knobby Walsh discovering hick Joe Palooka and developing him into a prize-winning contender.Enjoyable, but instantly forgettable, opener for a famous series from a poverty row studio.


The movie noir category of the 1940s explored the dark side of humanity, and few of those movies surrounded the price fighting industry. While the "Joe Palooka" series of the late 1940's is certainly not a movie noir, it has all of the elements that were included in such movie noirs surrounding that industry as "Body and Soul", "Champion" and "The Set-Up". This is closer to the comic strip feel of the "Dick Tracy" films that may contain elements of crime, blackmail, threats of violence and even murder, but it's basicallya light-hearted look that never crosses over into that Industries darkness.Certainly you would expect a movie starring Leon Errol (who had just come off the slapstick "Mexican Spitfire" series) to be comic because the rubber legged comedian of the past 30 years was known for his funny looks and actions. However, he's basically helping to the main plot even if he is the narrator of the story. Joe Palooka is played by Joe Kirkwood, an Australian born muscle boy who takes on the hero of the naive heck who becomes the topics of a war between the honest prize fighting manager Errol and figures from the underworld.Ask to take a dive after he makes a name for himself, Kirkwood refuses, leaving to serious threats of violence to his person. Eduardo Cianelli is the basic crime figure with Elyse Knox as the large town woman passing through city who distracts Kirkwood, first from his job pumping gas and soon while in the ring. The elements of what goes on behind the scenes are definite cliches but the movie flows along nicely for the most part. However it is nothing more than just a satisfactory time passer, perhaps not worthy of the series that followed. A better ver of the Palooka storyline was done a decade before. Comedy hits in the last frame for Errol who for the previous hour has given us no signs of the funny boy he was greatest known for.



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