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John Sturges' Right Cross, a tough little 1950 expose, while uncharacteristic MGM fare, fit like a boxing glove over a fistful of pictures that briefly sparked an entire noir "fighting game" offshoot genre. The previous year saw two well received depictions of the sordid lifestyles engulfing those unfortunates in and out of the ring: RKO's The Set-Up featuring Robert Ryan as a doomed over the hill pro-palooka, and United Artists' Champion which gave newcomer Kirk Douglas, as an egotistical pugilist with a streak of sadism, his first Oscar® nomination.
Right Cross went a few extra rounds, adding an interracial element to spice romantic tension between hard-boiled promoter Dick Powell, June Allyson and brooding Mexican contender Ricardo Montalban. The on and off-screen chemistry of real life husband and wife team Powell and Allyson fueled the advance publicity when aspects of the conveniently leaked storyline nationally reported that within the course of the narrative Allyson ended up with Montalban.
Aided by Sturges' tight direction, gritty B&W camerawork by Norbert Brodine (The House on 92nd Street (1945), Kiss of Death, 1947) and a moody score by David Raksin (Laura (1944), The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952), Right Cross, by defying convention, pulls no punches. By the way, Dick Powell fans should note that his character finds some solace in his loneliness by pursuing an array of lovely women, most prominently an unbilled Marilyn Monroe, who has less than twenty words of dialogue. In her autobiography, June Allyson, the actress recalled her final days with Powell when they discussed making Right Cross: "We reminisced about Marilyn Monroe and how we'd been floored, both of us, the day that Marilyn, then a young starlet, an unknown, had arrived, wiggling, on the Right Cross set, and how neither of us had predicted she'd be a star."
Director: John Sturges
Producer: Armand Deutsch
Screenplay: Charles Schnee
Cinematography: Norbert Brodine
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Gabriel Scognamillo
Music: David Raksin
Cast: June Allyson (Pat O'Malley), Dick Powell (Rick Garvey), Ricardo Montalban (Johnny Monterez), Lionel Barrymore (Sean O'Malley), Barry Kelley (Allan Goff), Teresa Celli (Marina Monterez).
by Mel Neuhaus