13 January 2020 | MartinHafer
Competently made.....and not much more.
In 1930, Ham Fisher brought out the strip "Joe Palooka" and it almost instantly became a success...so much so that it led to a 1934 film starring Stu Erwin as the titular character. The strip remained popular for many years after this...so many that Monogram Studios created a new Joe Palooka series which ran from 1946 to 1950...all starring Joe Kirkwood Jr. as the boxer. The first of these 11 Monogram films is "Joe Palooka, Champ" and in addition to Kirkwood, the movie featured Leon Errol as Joe's manager and mentor, Knobby. Incidentally, Kirkwood also starred in a television version of Joe Palooka after the movie series ended!
When the story begins, Joe is already the champ. Knobby then talks to his friends and describes the story of how the great boxer was discovered as well as his advancement through the boxing world.
Apart from the first punch Joe lands in his first fight (which is almost cartoonish), the film is a by the numbers boxing film....neither great nor terrible. And, most importantly, it establishes the characters and sets it up for subsequent films. Worth seeing if not particularly inspiring.
By the way, early in the film look for a cute cameo with Joe Lewis. When Knobby is looking for a hot prospect, he sees Lewis fight...and soon goes with Joe Palooka instead.