Flesh and Fury


1h 23m 1952
Flesh and Fury

Brief Synopsis

Deaf boxer Paul Callan captures the interest of gold-digging blonde Sonya Bartow and retired fight manager 'Pop' Richardson. For a time, Sonya has the upper hand with Paul, but ultimately a rival appears in the shape of upper-crust reporter Ann Hollis. With a 3-way fight under way for influence over Paul, he takes matters into his own hands, but learns that getting what he wanted isn't necessarily a happy ending.

Film Details

Also Known As
Hear No Evil
Release Date
Mar 1952
Premiere Information
World premiere in New Orleans, LA: 12 Mar 1952; New York opening: 27 Mar 1952
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

While amateur boxer Paul Callan pummels his opponent, the crowd, which includes boxing fan Sonya Bartow and manager Jack "Pop" Richardson, watches in amazement. In the locker room after the fight, Sonya visits and is at first disgusted to discover that Paul is deaf and does not speak, but, sensing that he is a future champ, asks him to take her out. When she kisses him, Paul falls in love. After his next fight, Sonya learns that Pop has signed Paul to be his first fighter since his beloved champ, Jackie Lawrence, died in the ring. Paul wins all his early fights and soon becomes like a son to Pop. Although Pop wants to groom Paul slowly for the championship, Sonya pushes him to put Paul in as many fights as possible so they will make more money. Paul asks Sonya to marry him, but she will not until he wins the championship. He tours the country, still winning every fight, and upon his return, Sonya tells Pop either to set Paul up in a fight with crooked boxer Joe Burns or leave. Pop walks away but, upon overhearing other managers discussing how easy it would be to take advantage of Paul, returns. Over the next weeks, Pop teaches Paul various defenses against dirty fighting, but worries that if Burns gouges Paul in the eyes, the deaf boy will have nothing. As Paul trains, reporter Ann Hollis arrives to interview him. Ann, who learned sign language from her father, a successful architect, tries to speak to him using her hands. Paul is drawn to the kind Ann and admits to her that he knows sign language, but is reluctant to use it because when he does, people call him names. When Sonya, who is jealous of Ann, laughs at Paul for using "the dummy language," Ann chastises her. Ann and Paul begin spending time together and soon fall in love. She brings him to her upper-class home and he is astonished to discover that her deaf father could have accomplished so much. During the Burns fight, Ann cringes while Sonya cheers until Paul, badly battered, finally wins. Soon after, Ann brings Paul to a school for deaf children, and they kiss. When he returns home, a drunken Sonya insists that he marry her immediately, then threatens to kill him when he pushes her away. Confused, Paul visits an ear doctor Ann recommended and learns about an operation that might restore his hearing, and secretly sequesters himself in the hospital to try the procedure. Days later, as Sonya and Pop grow worried over Paul's disappearance, Paul wakes from the operation and hears rain at the window. The doctor encourages him to talk and he slowly learns to speak perfectly. He races to Ann's, where a society party is in progress. He and Ann embrace joyfully, but she is obliged to tend to her guests, and as Paul wanders through the party, the guests's inane, noisy banter overwhelms and upsets him. After he runs out, Ann's mother consoles her, noting that he needs to learn how to survive in the world of words. Despondent, Paul returns to Sonya and his training, but every noise distracts him and he fights poorly. He nonetheless insists on fighting Logan, the champ, and on the day of the fight, Sonya bets all her money on Logan. Just before the fight begins, Paul finds out that Sonya is hiding a telegram from his doctor stating that the fight may make him lose his hearing again, and throws her out. The fight is long and punishing, and with every hit Paul loses more of his hearing, until he is deaf again. As soon as the roar of the fans no longer distracts him, he wins the championship. Ann finds him in the locker room, where he tells her that he was scared of the world, but now realizes that everyone else is also frightened and he is no different from anyone around him. They walk out hand in hand, and in the street Paul is thrilled to find that he can hear people talking.

Cast

Tony Curtis

Paul Callan

Jan Sterling

Sonya Bartow

Mona Freeman

Ann Hollis

Wallace Ford

Jack "Pop" Richardson

Connie Gilchrist

Ma Richardson

Katherine Locke

Mrs. Hollis

Harry Shannon

Mike Callan

Louis Jean Heydt

Whitey

Tom Powers

Andy Randolph

Nella Walker

Mrs. Hackett

Harry Guardino

Lou Callan

Joe Gray

Cliff

Harry Raven

Murphy

Ted Stanhope

Butler

Ken Patterson

Dr. Lester

Virginia Gregg

Claire

Grace Hayle

Mrs. Bien

Frank Wilcox

Businessman

Harry Cheshire

Dr. Gundling

Tommy Farrell

Rocky

George Eldredge

Dr. Edgar Buell

Dora Sayers

Dr. Buell's nurse

Robert Gray

George

Ron Hargrave

Logan

Bruce Richardson

Joe Burns

Mike Ragan

Cop

Ed Hinton

Cop

Franklin Parker

Inspector

Virginia Walling

Nurse Jackson

Beatrice Gray

Mother

Bill Yaeger

Alfred

Gail Bonney

Teacher

Patricia Burschinger

Teacher

Evelyn Stahleme

Teacher

George Hamilton

Waiter

Lee Millar

Jeff

Ralph Volkie

Referee for Burns fight

Howard Mitchell

Announcer Logan fight

Frankie Van

Referee for Logan fight

Norman Bishop

Lugano

Harold Bostwick

Cabbie

Joe Mcturk

Broadway character

Karl "killer" Davis

Broadway character

Jack Hagen

Newsboy

Sam Pierce

Nash

Lucile Curtis

Maid

Carl Sklover

Referee for Lugano fight

John Tuggle

Urchin

Dick Winters

Urchin

Dave Kelly

Fighter

Paul Pargo

Fighter

Rito Punay

Fighter

Bob Perry

Referee

Bing Conley

Referee

Mike Lally

Referee

Bud Winters

Referee

Tom Herman

Referee

Buddy Wright

Mendoza

Chuck Hamilton

Fight fan

Bobby Taylor

Small boy

Joel Nestler

Terry

Henry Blair

Student

Nicky Blair

Student

Ed Hinkle

Student

Paul Ely

Student

Judy Wiard

Girl

Charles Sherlock

Logan's manager

Imel Walters

Gym teacher

Edwin Parker

Paul Weber

Bob Donnelly

Eleanor Bassett

Sally Yarnell

Marvin Press

Milton Bronson

Don Kerr

Charles Sullivan

Stanley Mckay

George Lake

Sam Finn

Buddy Sullivan

Jack Perry

Charles Perry

Ray Gray

George "shorty" Chirello

Bobby Barber

Film Details

Also Known As
Hear No Evil
Release Date
Mar 1952
Premiere Information
World premiere in New Orleans, LA: 12 Mar 1952; New York opening: 27 Mar 1952
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Flesh and Fury


Directed by Joseph Pevney and produced by Leonard Goldstein, Flesh and Fury (1952) stars Tony Curtis as a deaf boxer who triumphs in the ring and finds himself in a romantic love triangle with Jan Sterling and Mona Freeman. Hollywood kept going back to the well for stories from the boxing world. It proved to be quality fodder for movies about the human condition, crime and inequality replete with action sequences that kept audiences entertained. UniversalInternational Pictures had been grooming a stable of young talent to add fresh new faces to their roster. (Rock Hudson had recently starred in the boxing film Iron Man (1951), also directed by Pevney.) Actor turned producer William Alland came up with a new story perfect for showcasing another young actor, this time Tony Curtis. It’s very likely that Alland was inspired by Eugene Hairston, who went by the moniker Silent Hairston, a deaf-mute African-American boxer in the middleweight category who was active during the late 1940s and the early 1950s.

Curtis had signed with Universal-International in 1949 and made a splash with his debut in the film noir Criss Cross (1949). With crew cuts all the rage, Curtis stood out with his voluminous dark curls which earned him the nickname “the kid with the haircut.” That, along with his on-screen charisma, his piercing gaze and athletic build, made him popular among bobbysoxers. Universal had been grooming Curtis for stardom with voice lessons to soften his thick New York accent and acting lessons to prepare him for leading man roles. Curtis landed his first big-budget film in the Jimmy Stewart Western Winchester ’73 (1950) and his first leading role in the swashbuckling drama The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951). Flesh and Fury gave him an opportunity to flex his acting muscles and take on a more serious role.

Originally titled Hear No Evil, Flesh and Fury was written by newcomer Bernard Gordon, who had worked as a script reader and assistant story editor at Paramount. He helped found the Screen Readers Guild, was a member of the Communist Party and was connected with other leftists in the industry. Fellow script reader Alfred Levitt introduced Gordon to his friend William Alland at Universal. Alland invited Gordon, who had never written a screenplay before, to work on a pirate drama at Universal. According to Gordon’s memoir, when that project fell through, “luck was with me. Bill Alland arranged for me to be transferred to another project, one for which he had created the story. He liked my work well enough to want me to write it.” With the support of Alland, studio executive Leonard Goldstein and Tony Curtis, who according to Gordon “couldn’t wait to get the first real script into his hands,” Gordon wrote his first screenplay which was immediately put into production upon completion. Alland was so pleased with Gordon that instead of letting him go as soon as he was no longer needed, he took Gordon under his wing and assigned him the role of screenwriter for The Lawless Breed (1952). However, Gordon had the bad luck of launching his screenwriting career during a highly tumultuous time in the industry. The House Committee on Un-American Activities was investigating communist activity in Hollywood. Gordon was never called to testify, but Alland was and he named Gordon, among others, as communists. Gordon was consequently blacklisted but continued to work under the pseudonym Raymond T. Marcus.

Production for Flesh and Fury took place on the Universal studio lot from October 19th until November 21st, 1951. Starring opposite Curtis was Jan Sterling who played Sonya, the sultry blonde gold-digger, and model-turned-actress Mona Freeman as the empathetic journalist. Both actresses were playing to their strengths. Sterling was at the height of her career in the 1950s playing hard-boiled dames and saucy, outspoken women. Freeman, on the other hand, saw her career peak in the late 1940s during her teenage years. Now as an adult, her career was slowing down and she was mostly cast in B-movie programmers and in demure roles. A New York Times review noted that Universal had “upholstered” the film “with a trim little cast” of character actors. These included Wallace Ford as Curtis’ manager, as well as freelancers like Harry Guardino, Nella Walker, Louis Jean Heydt and Tom Powers.

Much care was put into giving the boxing scenes a sense of authenticity. Prize fighter and referee Frankie Van was hired as a technical advisor on the film and had a bit role in the film. Van established a long career in the industry advising, training and acting in numerous boxing films from the late 1930s all the way up until the 1970s with films like Ex-Champ (1939), The Ring (1952), The Square Jungle (1955) and Rocky (1976). Joe Gray, former boxing champ, also found a new career in the business as an actor, stuntman and fight coordinator. He plays Cliff, Curtis’ training partner, and it’s very likely he trained Curtis for the fight sequences. Curtis was naturally athletic but had no formal experience as a boxer and during rehearsals broke his thumb. Pevney arranged for all fighting sequences to be filmed last to give Curtis time to recover. Other boxers in the film include former welterweights Jack Perry and Tommy Herman and lightweight Rito Punay.

Flesh and Fury had its world premiere in New Orleans on March 12th, 1952 with a New York City opening two weeks later. In the fall of ’52, the film was distributed internationally throughout East Asia, Europe, South America, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Flesh and Fury received mixed reviews that leaned towards the positive. Most outlets praised Tony Curtis’s talents as a dramatic male lead as well as a convincing boxer. The Hollywood Reporter called the film “a rousing action-filled drama of the prize ring. Flesh and Fury offers a novel twist that lifts it out of the realm of ordinary fight pictures.” Flesh and Fury remains as an obscure entry in the boxing film subgenre.

by Raquel Stecher

Flesh And Fury

Flesh and Fury

Directed by Joseph Pevney and produced by Leonard Goldstein, Flesh and Fury (1952) stars Tony Curtis as a deaf boxer who triumphs in the ring and finds himself in a romantic love triangle with Jan Sterling and Mona Freeman. Hollywood kept going back to the well for stories from the boxing world. It proved to be quality fodder for movies about the human condition, crime and inequality replete with action sequences that kept audiences entertained. UniversalInternational Pictures had been grooming a stable of young talent to add fresh new faces to their roster. (Rock Hudson had recently starred in the boxing film Iron Man (1951), also directed by Pevney.) Actor turned producer William Alland came up with a new story perfect for showcasing another young actor, this time Tony Curtis. It’s very likely that Alland was inspired by Eugene Hairston, who went by the moniker Silent Hairston, a deaf-mute African-American boxer in the middleweight category who was active during the late 1940s and the early 1950s.Curtis had signed with Universal-International in 1949 and made a splash with his debut in the film noir Criss Cross (1949). With crew cuts all the rage, Curtis stood out with his voluminous dark curls which earned him the nickname “the kid with the haircut.” That, along with his on-screen charisma, his piercing gaze and athletic build, made him popular among bobbysoxers. Universal had been grooming Curtis for stardom with voice lessons to soften his thick New York accent and acting lessons to prepare him for leading man roles. Curtis landed his first big-budget film in the Jimmy Stewart Western Winchester ’73 (1950) and his first leading role in the swashbuckling drama The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951). Flesh and Fury gave him an opportunity to flex his acting muscles and take on a more serious role.Originally titled Hear No Evil, Flesh and Fury was written by newcomer Bernard Gordon, who had worked as a script reader and assistant story editor at Paramount. He helped found the Screen Readers Guild, was a member of the Communist Party and was connected with other leftists in the industry. Fellow script reader Alfred Levitt introduced Gordon to his friend William Alland at Universal. Alland invited Gordon, who had never written a screenplay before, to work on a pirate drama at Universal. According to Gordon’s memoir, when that project fell through, “luck was with me. Bill Alland arranged for me to be transferred to another project, one for which he had created the story. He liked my work well enough to want me to write it.” With the support of Alland, studio executive Leonard Goldstein and Tony Curtis, who according to Gordon “couldn’t wait to get the first real script into his hands,” Gordon wrote his first screenplay which was immediately put into production upon completion. Alland was so pleased with Gordon that instead of letting him go as soon as he was no longer needed, he took Gordon under his wing and assigned him the role of screenwriter for The Lawless Breed (1952). However, Gordon had the bad luck of launching his screenwriting career during a highly tumultuous time in the industry. The House Committee on Un-American Activities was investigating communist activity in Hollywood. Gordon was never called to testify, but Alland was and he named Gordon, among others, as communists. Gordon was consequently blacklisted but continued to work under the pseudonym Raymond T. Marcus.Production for Flesh and Fury took place on the Universal studio lot from October 19th until November 21st, 1951. Starring opposite Curtis was Jan Sterling who played Sonya, the sultry blonde gold-digger, and model-turned-actress Mona Freeman as the empathetic journalist. Both actresses were playing to their strengths. Sterling was at the height of her career in the 1950s playing hard-boiled dames and saucy, outspoken women. Freeman, on the other hand, saw her career peak in the late 1940s during her teenage years. Now as an adult, her career was slowing down and she was mostly cast in B-movie programmers and in demure roles. A New York Times review noted that Universal had “upholstered” the film “with a trim little cast” of character actors. These included Wallace Ford as Curtis’ manager, as well as freelancers like Harry Guardino, Nella Walker, Louis Jean Heydt and Tom Powers.Much care was put into giving the boxing scenes a sense of authenticity. Prize fighter and referee Frankie Van was hired as a technical advisor on the film and had a bit role in the film. Van established a long career in the industry advising, training and acting in numerous boxing films from the late 1930s all the way up until the 1970s with films like Ex-Champ (1939), The Ring (1952), The Square Jungle (1955) and Rocky (1976). Joe Gray, former boxing champ, also found a new career in the business as an actor, stuntman and fight coordinator. He plays Cliff, Curtis’ training partner, and it’s very likely he trained Curtis for the fight sequences. Curtis was naturally athletic but had no formal experience as a boxer and during rehearsals broke his thumb. Pevney arranged for all fighting sequences to be filmed last to give Curtis time to recover. Other boxers in the film include former welterweights Jack Perry and Tommy Herman and lightweight Rito Punay.Flesh and Fury had its world premiere in New Orleans on March 12th, 1952 with a New York City opening two weeks later. In the fall of ’52, the film was distributed internationally throughout East Asia, Europe, South America, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Flesh and Fury received mixed reviews that leaned towards the positive. Most outlets praised Tony Curtis’s talents as a dramatic male lead as well as a convincing boxer. The Hollywood Reporter called the film “a rousing action-filled drama of the prize ring. Flesh and Fury offers a novel twist that lifts it out of the realm of ordinary fight pictures.” Flesh and Fury remains as an obscure entry in the boxing film subgenre.by Raquel Stecher

Quotes

I love you too, Paul... in my own funny way.
- Sonya Bartow

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Hear No Evil. Universal borrowed January Sterling and Mona Freeman from Paramount for the film. The studio cast real figures from the boxing world, including fighter Harry Guardino, who played "Paul's" brother "Lou," and referee Frankie Van, who acted as the film's technical advisor and played the referee in the "Logan" fight scene. Guardino went on to a long acting career in film, stage and television. The film also marked the first screenplay of writer Bernard Gordon (1918-2007).
       According to an October 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Tony Curtis broke his thumb during a boxing workout before the production began, but director Joseph Pevney was able to start the film on time by postponing fight scenes until the end of the shooting schedule. Some scenes were shot on location in New York City. Flesh and Fury was Pevney's second boxing picture, after 1951's Iron Man (see below).