Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Gentleman Jim (1942)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Gentleman Jim (1942)

In Raoul Walsh's entertaining, highly-fictionalized sports biography of a famous heavyweight boxer, based loosely upon James J. Corbett's own autobiography The Roar of the Crowd:

  • the character of James "Gentleman Jim" J. Corbett (Errol Flynn), and the path of his career from a poor, brawling Irish family to a lowly job as a bank clerk, then an amateur boxer, and onto the professional level in the 1890s ("the Naughty Nineties") in turn-of-the-century San Francisco - in the early days of bare-knuckled boxing
  • Gentleman Jim's on-again/off-again romance with SF socialite love interest Victoria Ware (Alexis Smith), an ambivalent patrician belle and heiress who believed he had a large ego, although she supported him
  • the challenge match between the brash, extroverted, stylish and charming Gentleman Jim against brutish John L. Sullivan (Ward Bond) in an 1892 championship match, revealed in an exciting, action-packed sequence of 21 rounds, and ending with Corbett's knockout victory in the last round; Corbett succeeded by using "scientific" boxing techniques - he was the first to "dance" around the ring with elusive and fancy footwork
"Gentleman Jim" Corbett's Legendary
Match Against John Sullivan
  • the concluding celebratory victory party scene in Corbett's 2nd floor hotel suite, where Vickie presented him with a large gift box; he joked: "For me? It can't be lilies 'cause I'm still here"; when he opened the box, it was revealed that she had bought him a huge hat to fit his swelled head: "Well, it wouldn't take many of those to make a dozen. How'd you guess my size?"
  • the appearance of formally dressed, defeated opponent Sullivan, who crashed the party unexpectedly; Corbett was presented with Sullivan's championship belt ("I've had it for a long time, take good care of it, will ya?"), and then Corbett was gracious to the loser: "The first time I saw you fight I was just a bit of a kid. There wasn't a man alive who could have stood up to you then. And tonight, well, I was just mighty glad that you weren't the John L. Sullivan of ten years ago"; appreciative of the compliment, Sullivan responded: "Is that what you're thinkin' now...That's a fine decent thing for you to say, Jim. I don't know how we might have come out, oh, say, eight or ten tears ago. I... maybe I was faster then. If I was, tonight, you're the fastest thing on two feet. Sure, it was like tryin' to hit a ghost"; Sullivan also mentioned how it was as tough to win as to lose: "I don't know much about this, uh, gentleman stuff they're hangin' out about ya. But maybe you're bringin' somethin' new to the fight game. Somethin' it needs and never got from fellas like me. I don't know. But I do know this. Though it's tough to be a good loser, it's a lot tougher to be a good winner"; Corbett replied: "Thanks again, John. I hope that when my time comes, I can go out with my head just as high as yours. There'll never be another John L. Sullivan"
  • in the film's final moments, Victoria came to Corbett outside, where he was thinking again about Sullivan's fate: "I can see him now walking back to his room, alone, lying there all night and thinking: 'What's the use of ever getting up again?' John L. He'll never thump another bar and shout: 'I can lick any man in the world.' He must be lost"; but then they began talking about their own relationship when she was impressed by his sensitivity to Sullivan; she confessed her love for him: ("Well, you like me all right and...Yes, I like you. I think you like me more than I like you. But it wouldn't surprise me if, if I loved you more than you love me...And then again, I may be wrong")
  • and then, when he teased her after her confession of love, he suddenly agreed with a kiss: ("You're gonna make a marvelous Corbett!"); when she countered: "A fine way for a gentleman to behave," he replied: "Oh, darling. That gentleman stuff never fooled you, did it? I'm no gentleman" - and she added with another kiss initiated by her: "In that case, I'm no lady"
Victoria Ware (Alexis Smith) to Corbett:
"But it wouldn't surprise me if,
if I loved you more than you love me..."

As Swaggering Genteel Gentleman Jim
(Errol Flynn)

As Rowdy Prize-Fighting Boxer

Taunting John L. Sullivan for a Match

Challenge to John L. Sullivan

Post-Championship Match Party: Victoria's Gift of an Oversized Hat

At Party: Sullivan Arrived to Offer Congratulations and His Championship Belt


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