16 February 2007 | boblipton
Before commenting on this episode series, I should warn you: apparently only two of these survive in any real form and I've only seen one of them -- Episode Two, titled, appropriately enough, 'Round Two', so my comments may or may not be of much use. Well, here goes.
This is great. It was made by a bunch of people who had never made films before and they do some very interesting things: Reginald Denny, at the very start of his career, played Americans in the movies -- his accent being inaudible in the silents. Here he plays an ex-college athlete whose father has gone broke, so he must make a living as a prizefighter; and his manager is a nice enough guy, but he likes to get into crap games and make unhappy wagers..... so things are at a low point.
There are three points I wish to call to your attention, in case you ever get to see this movie -- and it is available now on DVD. First, the characters rather breezily break the fourth wall -- the manager stops the action early on to fill in newcomers as to What Has Gone Before -- a delightful bit of informality. Second, the people involved have managed to install into this movie some of the real grunge of boxing gyms, something that seems to have been missed by everyone except Robert Wise in THE SET-UP (1949) and Clint Eastwood in MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004). That's a long time between authentic grunge, but somehow almost every film maker seems to have missed the low characters and low settings that a boxing gym has, and the marginal characters who can waver between low comedy and pathos. And the story is told in a brisk and interesting fashion by people who seem to not to know that you can't do things that way in the movies -- and it works when they do it.
In case I'm being obscure, highly recommended. It is available on DVD from reelclassicdvd.com -- go to the web site and poke around. The proprietor, Mark Roth, informs me he's going to releasing another episode on DVD soon.