Killer McCoy


1h 43m 1947
Killer McCoy

Brief Synopsis

A lightweight boxer gets mixed up in murder.

Photos & Videos

Killer McCoy - Movie Poster

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Sports
Release Date
Dec 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Tommy McCoy, a quick-fisted, tough New York City youth, sells newspapers and wages bets in pool halls to help support his parents. Tommy's father Brian, an unemployed vaudevillian, believes his career in show business is finished until he is asked by Father Ryan to perform at the neighborhood association's boxing match. Though offered only ten dollars for his performance, Brian gladly accepts the invitation, and asks Tommy to perform a song-and-dance routine with him. At the event, Tommy enters the boxing ring, challenges champion fighter Danny Burns and wins the fight in a knockout. Tommy's boxing prowess impresses lightweight champion Johnny Martin, who invites him to learn more about fighting by joining his traveling boxing tournament as an entertainer. Tommy and Brian become successful on the road, but their joy is dampened when Brian receives word that his wife has died. Tommy and Brian continue to perform in Johnny's traveling show, and their association with Johnny continues until the champion fighter retires from the boxing ring. Tommy takes over for Johnny in the ring and becomes an instant sensation, scoring one victory after another. Meanwhile, Brian, who has been drinking heavily and squandering his and Tommy's money, amasses a large gambling debt. One day, Tommy learns that he is set to fight Johnny, who is attempting a comeback, and refuses to fight him. However, Tommy is compelled to accept the challenge to make enough money to pay his father's $600 gambling debt to Jim Caighn. In the ring, Tommy takes it easy on Johnny, but the former champion, out of practice, is killed by a light punch. Tommy is devastated by the accidental death and decides to quit boxing. He is forced to continue, however, when he learns that his father has sold his contract to Caighn. Determined to make enough money to buy back his contract, Tommy agrees to fix his fights to help the gambler bankrupt his rivals. Tommy and Caighn profit handsomely from the scheme, but when a romance flourishes between Tommy and Caighn's daughter Sheila, Caighn warns the fighter to stay away from her. On the eve of Tommy's big fight against Patsy Cigones, Brian in a drunken stupor, tells Caighn's rivals that Caighn has been secretly managing Tommy's career and that all of Tommy's fights are rigged. Having bet heavily on Tommy's opponent, Caighn's rivals kidnap Sheila, hold her and Brian hostage and threaten them with harm unless Tommy takes a fall in the eighth round. As the fight approaches the eighth round, Brian overpowers his captors and sends Sheila to the boxing arena to prevent Tommy from taking his fall. Though Brian is killed by his captors, Sheila arrives at the arena in the middle of the eighth round, and her presence inspires Tommy to defeat his opponent with a knockout punch. After the fight, Caighn promises to reform and gives Tommy and Sheila his blessing to resume their romance.

Cast

Mickey Rooney

Tommy McCoy

Brian Donlevy

Jim Caighn [assumed name of Jim Carrson]

Ann Blyth

Sheila Carrson

James Dunn

Brian McCoy

Tom Tully

Cecil Y. Walsh

Sam Levene

Happy

Walter Sande

Bill Thorne

Mickey Knox

Johnny Martin

James Bell

Father Ryan

Gloria Holden

Mrs. McCoy

Eve March

Mrs. Martin

June Storey

Waitress

Douglas Croft

Danny Burns

Bob Steele

Sailor Graves

David Clarke

Pete Mariola

William Tannen

Thorne's cameraman

Cy Shindell

Mariola's henchman

Jack Manolas

Mariola's henchman

Bill Harbach

Caighn's secretary

Milburn Stone

Walsh's bodyguard

Ray Teal

Walsh's bodyguard

Paul Bryar

Walsh's bodyguard

Allen Wood

Harry

David Gorcey

Joe

Larry Cisneros

Patsy Cigones

Marie Harmon

Gwen Brady

John Kellogg

Svengros

Eric Roberts

Joe

Rudy Wissler

Pete

Art Foster

Officer Calhern

Bert Hanlon

Announcer

Billy Wayne

Announcer

Vincent Graeff

Jacky Jordano

Dick Wessell

Burns, Sr.

Alonzo Price

Bum

Bill O'leary

Bum

Jim Toney

Bartender

Manuel Ortiz

World's champion bantamweight

Jack Roper

Fighter

John Indrisano

Rocky

Joe Crehan

George James

Jim Lennon

Ring announcer

Tommy Herman

Martin fight referee

Ben Moselle

Spectator

Marcus Turk

Spectator

Drew Demarest

Spectator

Frank Marlowe

Doctor

John Butler

Doctor

Margaret Bert

Nurse

Russell Trent

Newsman

Bob Wendal

Newsman

Frank Pershing

Newsman

Cedric Stevens

Newsman

David Newell

Newsman

Carl Saxe

Newsman

Robert Spencer

Newsman

Phyllis Kennedy

Woman in automobile

Shelley Winters

Woman in automobile

Harvey Perry

Graves' fight referee

Ralph Peters

Gum chewing man

George Meader

Little man

Joe Devlin

Cigar smoking man

Allen Ray

Usher

Douglas Carter

Reporter

Anthony Merrill

Reporter

Jean Dean

Hat check girl

Eugene Borden

Headwaiter

Albert Pallette

Waiter

Billy Newell

Waiter

Wally Cassell

Louie

George Chandler

Photographer

Tiny Kelly

Man at bar

Frank Mayo

Man at bar

Larry Wheat

Man at bar

Jane Green

Miss DeHaven

Frank Mcclure

Clerk

King Mojave

Clerk

Jim Drum

Clerk

Tay Dunn

Clerk

Bill Lewin

Taxi driver

Mickey Martin

Messenger boy

Sig Froelich

Attendant

Larry Mcgrath

Cigones' fight referee

Johnny Day

Ticket man

Bob Perry

Timekeeper

Mike Pat Donovan

Knockdown timekeeper

George Goodman

Knockdown timekeeper

Dutch Schlickenmayer

Knockdown timekeeper

Chick Collins

Brawler

Bud Wolfe

Brawler

Reid Kilpatrick

Fight broadcaster

Jimmy Dale

Radio engineer

Cameron Grant

Photo Collections

Killer McCoy - Movie Poster
Killer McCoy - Movie Poster

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Sports
Release Date
Dec 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Killer McCoy


Boxing is in such disrepute these days that Killer McCoy (1947) comes as something of a guilty pleasure. It shouldn't be as enjoyable to watch as it is, given its uneasy détente between sentimental formula and hard-hitting subject matter. But so solid is its craftsmanship, and so unstoppable is the energy pouring forth from Mickey Rooney in the title role, that you'll walk away satisfied. The amazingly durable Rooney was 26 when he filmed it. Behind him were the silents in which he played Mickey McGuire, from which he leapfrogged into the Andy Hardy series that made him a star. And of course there are the musicals in which he sang and danced alongside Judy Garland, at times even more pugnaciously than as the up-from-the-slums boxer he plays in this film with which he hoped to reboot his career, act his age and transition into character roles.

There has always been in his earlier performances something of the human firecracker. It's tempered here, despite his come-out-punching role as Tommy McCoy, who acquires his unwanted nickname when, on his way up, he knocks out his comeback-minded but out-of-shape friend and mentor, who never regains consciousness. What may have played a part as well is Rooney having to reassess and remake his film career after military service in World War II. He now was too old to play boys, no matter how boyish he may have looked. The thoughtful expressions on his face convince as the real thing. Good thing, because this remake of the Robert Taylor boxing movie The Crowd Roars (1938) casts Rooney's young boxer as something of a paragon - undeniably scrappy, but kind, caring, sensitive, loyal, good-hearted, bristling with integrity and even dignity.

The character defects are assigned to others, starting with Tommy's father, played by James Dunn (like Rooney an ex-vaudevillian), who agreeably recycles his much-acclaimed performance in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), as the good-hearted ne'er-do-well alcoholic albatross of a father. The film eases into the boxing sequences by way of a cane-and-boater song and dance number a kindly parish priest hires the McCoy father-son duo to perform at a neighborhood association charity benefit that includes a boxing match. In no time, the younger McCoy climbs into the ring against the bout's winner, and never looks back. Or wouldn't, if his old man's drinking and gambling didn't keep pulling him into difficulty.

Things get serious when the old man finds himself deep in the hole to Brian Donlevy's shady gambler and the latter's enforcers. To bail his father out, Tommy lets the old man sell his contract to Donlevy's string-puller, who retains the old man as Tommy's nominal manager to avoid scrutiny of his own role in maximizing the profit to be harvested from manipulating bets on Tommy. His strategy is simple, involving Tommy's victories seeming to be the result of lucky knockout punches, which in fact had simply been delayed. This may be the place to point out not for the first time the depth and dependability of the so-called MGM stock company, Donlevy being an example.

Taciturn ruggedness was Donlevy's stock in trade. His was a reassuring presence, with a certain dignity co-existing alongside a toughness kept under wraps. A soft side, too. Here, he leaves no doubt of his ability to handle himself in the company of mobsters beneath his carefully cultivated exterior of a well-mannered, conservatively dressed stockbroker in his tailored suits complete with flower in lapel. Just as Dunn makes old man McCoy likable through his projection of warm-heartedness, Donlevy makes the gambling kingpin human by revealing a soft side when it comes to his only daughter, Sheila (Ann Blyth), stashed in a Connecticut finishing school. She and Tommy meet when the gambler's Connecticut estate is pressed into service as Tommy's training camp.

Blyth was trained in opera and the concert stage, which made her seem a bit different than the usual Hollywood romantic lead in her late teens. The air of gravity and apartness -- which peaked when she played Joan Crawford' daughter in Mildred Pierce (1945) -- sits well in a story that can use all the escape routes it can find from melodramatic cliché. Scenes between Tommy and Sheila are redeemed by a sensitivity and intelligence he's allowed to reveal - although a scene in which she walks in on him playing Chopin on a piano in her living room is a bit much! -- and by her later apology for snobbishly judging him. Not that Donlevy's shady big shot is in the least receptive to the idea of viewing Tommy as a son-in-law. But then the protective father's own profession, so carefully concealed from his daughter (although not really), is something of a social equalizer.

It all comes to a head when Tom Tully's thuggish high roller gets wind of Donlevy's plan to sucker him into a big losing bet, and kidnaps Donlevy's daughter (and Tommy's father) to force Tommy to throw the fight. Tully, who mostly played tough but kind-hearted cops, is as close as the film comes to having a real heavy, and he gets the job done with a display of wiseguy brutishness. The brutishness, by the way, does not extend to the other boxers in the film. Mickey Knox is saintly as the veteran boxer who takes Tommy under his wing and whom Tommy unintentionally kills when he kayos him a few years later, earning him his unwanted nickname. And Bob Steele makes his mark as the loser of a vicious bout against Tommy, only to turn up oozing good nature and a professional's fatalism when he and his wife meet Tommy later in a nightclub.

Killer McCoy would almost remind you of Louis B. Mayer's insistence on movies about nice people with nice problems if it weren't about boxing and rigged matches. The boxing sequences, incidentally, are brilliantly directed and edited by Roy Rowland. They are efficient and high-impact, with adroitly alternating camera angles and the savagery amplified by being intercut with bloodthirsty crowd reaction, including one fat chap who keeps yelling what was to become one of the comic punch lines of the postwar period: "Hit him in the midsection!" Also worth noting in the small role of Tommy's trainer is Sam Levene, whose own breakout a few years later as gambler Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls is presaged by the garish postwar men's fashions, with their wide-lapeled sport jackets and even wider vividly patterned ties. Finally, speaking of subsequent reincarnations, Rooney, who seems in retrospect like one of those sand-bottomed inflatable figures who keeps getting punched, but keeps popping upright again, resurfaced with star billing in the boxing classic, Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), in the corner of washed-up pug Anthony Quinn.

Producer: Sam Zimbalist
Director: Roy Rowland
Screenplay: Frederick Hazlitt Brennan; George Bruce, Thomas Lennon, George Oppenheimer (story)
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Eddie Imazu
Music: David Snell
Film Editing: Ralph E. Winters
Cast: Mickey Rooney (Tommy McCoy/Killer McCoy), Brian Donlevy (Jim Caighn), Ann Blyth (Sheila Carrson), James Dunn (Brian McCoy), Tom Tully (Cecil Y. Walsh), Sam Levene (Happy), Walter Sande (Bill Thorne), Mickey Knox (Johnny Martin), James Bell (Father Patrick Ryan), Gloria Holden (Mrs. Laura McCoy), Eve March (Mrs. Martin), June Storey (Arlene - Waitress), Douglas Croft (Danny Burns, Newsboy), Bob Steele (Sailor Graves), David Clarke (Pete Mariola).
BW-104m.

by Jay Carr

Sources:
Life Is Too Short, by Mickey Rooney, Villard, 1991
The MGM Story, by John Douglas Eames, Crown, 1982
The MGM Stock Company: The Golden Era, by James Robert Parrish and Ronald L. Bowers, Arlington House, 1972
A Biographical Dictionary of Film, by David Thomson, William Morrow, 1980
The Film Encyclopedia, by Ephraim Katz, Macmillan, 2001
Mickey Rooney: Essay by Jeanine Basinger, International Dictionary of Films and Filmmaking 3 - Actors and Actresses
Variety, Oct. 29, 1947
The New York Times, Feb. 12, 1948
IMDb
Killer Mccoy

Killer McCoy

Boxing is in such disrepute these days that Killer McCoy (1947) comes as something of a guilty pleasure. It shouldn't be as enjoyable to watch as it is, given its uneasy détente between sentimental formula and hard-hitting subject matter. But so solid is its craftsmanship, and so unstoppable is the energy pouring forth from Mickey Rooney in the title role, that you'll walk away satisfied. The amazingly durable Rooney was 26 when he filmed it. Behind him were the silents in which he played Mickey McGuire, from which he leapfrogged into the Andy Hardy series that made him a star. And of course there are the musicals in which he sang and danced alongside Judy Garland, at times even more pugnaciously than as the up-from-the-slums boxer he plays in this film with which he hoped to reboot his career, act his age and transition into character roles. There has always been in his earlier performances something of the human firecracker. It's tempered here, despite his come-out-punching role as Tommy McCoy, who acquires his unwanted nickname when, on his way up, he knocks out his comeback-minded but out-of-shape friend and mentor, who never regains consciousness. What may have played a part as well is Rooney having to reassess and remake his film career after military service in World War II. He now was too old to play boys, no matter how boyish he may have looked. The thoughtful expressions on his face convince as the real thing. Good thing, because this remake of the Robert Taylor boxing movie The Crowd Roars (1938) casts Rooney's young boxer as something of a paragon - undeniably scrappy, but kind, caring, sensitive, loyal, good-hearted, bristling with integrity and even dignity. The character defects are assigned to others, starting with Tommy's father, played by James Dunn (like Rooney an ex-vaudevillian), who agreeably recycles his much-acclaimed performance in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), as the good-hearted ne'er-do-well alcoholic albatross of a father. The film eases into the boxing sequences by way of a cane-and-boater song and dance number a kindly parish priest hires the McCoy father-son duo to perform at a neighborhood association charity benefit that includes a boxing match. In no time, the younger McCoy climbs into the ring against the bout's winner, and never looks back. Or wouldn't, if his old man's drinking and gambling didn't keep pulling him into difficulty. Things get serious when the old man finds himself deep in the hole to Brian Donlevy's shady gambler and the latter's enforcers. To bail his father out, Tommy lets the old man sell his contract to Donlevy's string-puller, who retains the old man as Tommy's nominal manager to avoid scrutiny of his own role in maximizing the profit to be harvested from manipulating bets on Tommy. His strategy is simple, involving Tommy's victories seeming to be the result of lucky knockout punches, which in fact had simply been delayed. This may be the place to point out not for the first time the depth and dependability of the so-called MGM stock company, Donlevy being an example. Taciturn ruggedness was Donlevy's stock in trade. His was a reassuring presence, with a certain dignity co-existing alongside a toughness kept under wraps. A soft side, too. Here, he leaves no doubt of his ability to handle himself in the company of mobsters beneath his carefully cultivated exterior of a well-mannered, conservatively dressed stockbroker in his tailored suits complete with flower in lapel. Just as Dunn makes old man McCoy likable through his projection of warm-heartedness, Donlevy makes the gambling kingpin human by revealing a soft side when it comes to his only daughter, Sheila (Ann Blyth), stashed in a Connecticut finishing school. She and Tommy meet when the gambler's Connecticut estate is pressed into service as Tommy's training camp. Blyth was trained in opera and the concert stage, which made her seem a bit different than the usual Hollywood romantic lead in her late teens. The air of gravity and apartness -- which peaked when she played Joan Crawford' daughter in Mildred Pierce (1945) -- sits well in a story that can use all the escape routes it can find from melodramatic cliché. Scenes between Tommy and Sheila are redeemed by a sensitivity and intelligence he's allowed to reveal - although a scene in which she walks in on him playing Chopin on a piano in her living room is a bit much! -- and by her later apology for snobbishly judging him. Not that Donlevy's shady big shot is in the least receptive to the idea of viewing Tommy as a son-in-law. But then the protective father's own profession, so carefully concealed from his daughter (although not really), is something of a social equalizer. It all comes to a head when Tom Tully's thuggish high roller gets wind of Donlevy's plan to sucker him into a big losing bet, and kidnaps Donlevy's daughter (and Tommy's father) to force Tommy to throw the fight. Tully, who mostly played tough but kind-hearted cops, is as close as the film comes to having a real heavy, and he gets the job done with a display of wiseguy brutishness. The brutishness, by the way, does not extend to the other boxers in the film. Mickey Knox is saintly as the veteran boxer who takes Tommy under his wing and whom Tommy unintentionally kills when he kayos him a few years later, earning him his unwanted nickname. And Bob Steele makes his mark as the loser of a vicious bout against Tommy, only to turn up oozing good nature and a professional's fatalism when he and his wife meet Tommy later in a nightclub. Killer McCoy would almost remind you of Louis B. Mayer's insistence on movies about nice people with nice problems if it weren't about boxing and rigged matches. The boxing sequences, incidentally, are brilliantly directed and edited by Roy Rowland. They are efficient and high-impact, with adroitly alternating camera angles and the savagery amplified by being intercut with bloodthirsty crowd reaction, including one fat chap who keeps yelling what was to become one of the comic punch lines of the postwar period: "Hit him in the midsection!" Also worth noting in the small role of Tommy's trainer is Sam Levene, whose own breakout a few years later as gambler Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls is presaged by the garish postwar men's fashions, with their wide-lapeled sport jackets and even wider vividly patterned ties. Finally, speaking of subsequent reincarnations, Rooney, who seems in retrospect like one of those sand-bottomed inflatable figures who keeps getting punched, but keeps popping upright again, resurfaced with star billing in the boxing classic, Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), in the corner of washed-up pug Anthony Quinn. Producer: Sam Zimbalist Director: Roy Rowland Screenplay: Frederick Hazlitt Brennan; George Bruce, Thomas Lennon, George Oppenheimer (story) Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Eddie Imazu Music: David Snell Film Editing: Ralph E. Winters Cast: Mickey Rooney (Tommy McCoy/Killer McCoy), Brian Donlevy (Jim Caighn), Ann Blyth (Sheila Carrson), James Dunn (Brian McCoy), Tom Tully (Cecil Y. Walsh), Sam Levene (Happy), Walter Sande (Bill Thorne), Mickey Knox (Johnny Martin), James Bell (Father Patrick Ryan), Gloria Holden (Mrs. Laura McCoy), Eve March (Mrs. Martin), June Storey (Arlene - Waitress), Douglas Croft (Danny Burns, Newsboy), Bob Steele (Sailor Graves), David Clarke (Pete Mariola). BW-104m. by Jay Carr Sources: Life Is Too Short, by Mickey Rooney, Villard, 1991 The MGM Story, by John Douglas Eames, Crown, 1982 The MGM Stock Company: The Golden Era, by James Robert Parrish and Ronald L. Bowers, Arlington House, 1972 A Biographical Dictionary of Film, by David Thomson, William Morrow, 1980 The Film Encyclopedia, by Ephraim Katz, Macmillan, 2001 Mickey Rooney: Essay by Jeanine Basinger, International Dictionary of Films and Filmmaking 3 - Actors and Actresses Variety, Oct. 29, 1947 The New York Times, Feb. 12, 1948 IMDb

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Writers Thomas Lennon, George Bruce and George Oppenheimer were the authors of the story screenplay for The Crowd Roars, the 1938 M-G-M film on which this picture is based. The Crowd Roars was directed by Richard Thorpe and starred Robert Taylor and Edward Arnold (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0893). Boxer Jack Roper, who is listed as a "Fighter" in the CBCS, played himself in the 1938 film. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts through June 1947 list Elizabeth Taylor as the female lead, she was replaced by Ann Blyth. A July 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that assistant director Dolph Zimmer suffered a heart attack during production of the film.