Cast & Crew
Seconds after defeating heavyweight boxing champion Mike Turigan, Duke Foster announces that he is retiring to marry blue-blooded Susan Corbin, the daughter of wealthy financier Arnold Corbin, who disapproves of their union. The eloping couple are aided by Susan's levelheaded sister Pauline, and after the marriage, Corbin relents, allowing Duke to become Pauline's partner in a publishing company. As the years pass, Duke and Susan have a son, Jimmy, and Duke's business is successful. On the night of Jimmy's fourth birthday, Corbin confesses to Duke that he has embezzled $200,000 from his clients and has lost it in the stock market. Corbin asks Duke to take Susan and Pauline away to spare them the disgrace of his imprisonment. Duke wants to help Corbin, so the next day, he and Pauline attempt to borrow the money Corbin needs. They are unsuccessful, but when Duke's loyal friend Barney overhears Duke's plans to go to Paris, he tells Duke to go to his former manager, Pat Doyle, for help. Pat does not have the money, but convinces Duke to raise it through boxing, despite his promise to Susan that he would never fight again. Duke is to fight Joe Bronski, a powerhouse backed by crooked promoter Jim Watson, who tells his press agent Parke to build up the odds on Duke so that he will make a fortune when Bronski wins. Watson bets heavily on Bronski, and when Parke tells him that Duke's training is going well and that he will be able to win, Watson devises a scheme to insure Duke's loss. They mail Susan a letter from Jimmy about the fight, and Susan, who was sent to Peru on a pretense by Pauline and Duke, returns to the United States intent on stopping the fight. Duke will not tell Susan the reason behind the bout, and when he refuses to stop it, she takes Jimmy and leaves. Susan goes to Corbin's apartment, where he tells her the truth. Susan is about to return to Duke when Watson's henchmen, Al and Nick, enter and hold them captive. Al calls Duke and orders him to take a dive or else Susan and Jimmy will be killed. Disbelieving Al's threat, Duke goes to the stadium to prepare for the match, but when Pauline cannot find Susan, he becomes worried. Susan contrives to get Al and Nick to let her call Duke, but instead of telling him to lose, she tells him that she is safe and to fight to win. Al then rushes to the stadium to shoot Duke so that Wilson will not lose his wager. The fight begins, and Susan sneaks Jimmy out through the dumbwaiter. Jimmy goes to the janitor for help, and they send the police to Susan. At the stadium, Duke, who is winning, is about to be shot by Al. The crowd and police stop Al when they see his gun, and Duke knocks out Bronski. All ends well for Corbin, and the Fosters enjoy a second honeymoon.
Lucian Cary's novel first appeared as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post (4 March-25 March 1933). According to a November 10, 1936 Hollywood Reporter news item, Cary's novel was originally bought for production by M-G-M and was to be written by Philip Wylie and produced by James K. McGuinness. According to the Motion Picture Herald review, a few years prior to the release of the film, there was an actual case of a heavyweight boxer who retired from fighting to marry a socialite. The review stated that the true story "is more alive in the minds of the public than almost any other factual drama of the sport world of recent times, and although a title card carefully disclaims any resemblance to actual facts or persons, The Duke Comes Back make full and effectual use of the dramatic value of the situation." George Blair, the assistant director of this film, directed Tom Brown and Audrey Long in Duke of Chicago, Republic's 1949 version of Cary's novel.