The Life of Jimmy Dolan


1h 29m 1933
The Life of Jimmy Dolan

Brief Synopsis

A boxer facing a murder charge finds refuge in a children's home.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adventure
Crime
Sports
Adaptation
Release Date
Jun 3, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
The Vitaphone Corp.; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Sucker by Bertram Millhauser and Beulah Marie Dix (published 4 Apr 1933, New York).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Boxer Jimmy Dolan appears to be a clean living man, publicly shunning women and alcohol, but after a match, visiting friends find him drunk with beautiful, blonde Goldie West. When Jimmy finds out that reporter Charles Magee intends to publish the truth, Jimmy punches him, accidentally killing him. Panicked, Jimmy's manager, Doc Woods, decides to run away with Goldie and leaves Jimmy alone to face charges, but not before he empties Jimmy's pockets of his money and favorite watch. During the getaway, the car has a blowout and crashes, burning Goldie and Doc beyond recognition. Because Doc was wearing Jimmy's watch, the police now believe that Jimmy is dead. Only Phlaxer, a former police detective who was once responsible for an innocent man's conviction for murder, notices that the dead man was wearing his watch on his left arm, unlike Jimmy, a well-known southpaw. Relieved to discover that the police are no longer looking for him, Jimmy changes his name to Jack Dougherty and hops a train. He ends up broke and dirty at a farm run by Peggy and her aunt, Mrs. Moore, as a home for crippled children. Jack collapses from hunger and Peggy and her aunt nurse him back to health. Jimmy stays to work off his debt to them and slowly starts to care for the children and for Peggy, whom he asks to marry him. When Phlaxer sees a prize-winning photo of Jack taken by one of the children, he visits the town to prove that Jimmy Dolan is still alive. Jack has agreed to box King Cobra for money to pay the farm mortgage. Even though he fights with his right hand, Phlaxer recognizes him and asks him to come back to stand trial. A chance encounter with Peggy and the children at the arena, however, convinces Phlaxer that the boxer has changed, and he lets him go to continue his life with Peggy.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adventure
Crime
Sports
Adaptation
Release Date
Jun 3, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
The Vitaphone Corp.; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Sucker by Bertram Millhauser and Beulah Marie Dix (published 4 Apr 1933, New York).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

The Life of Jimmy Dolan


In the pre-Code drama The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. stars as a champion boxer who accidentally kills a newspaper reporter. He runs, taking on the identity of a man who died in a car crash and winding up at a home for crippled orphans. When the mortgage payment becomes due, he dons his boxing gloves again to raise the money, even though there's a good risk he'll expose himself to the one detective (Guy Kibbee) who still thinks he's alive. Rounding out the cast are Loretta Young as the young lovely who helps runs the orphanage, John Wayne in a bit part as a prizefighter, and Mickey Rooney as a kid named "Freckles."

Variety liked the film, calling it "a neat, sure-footed picture that's easy on the eye and ear," and singled out Guy Kibbee for special praise in true Variety lingo: "Kibbee's work as the foggy-eyed flatfoot is the best of the cast's contributions. He is getting to be a champ picture stealer among Hollywood's character people."

Fairbanks later recalled training with an ex-fighter in order to learn to fight right-handed. His character is a leftie who at the end tries to fight right-handed in order to fool the police. Fairbanks also claimed in his memoir to have gotten John Wayne his part. In 1929, Wayne (then known as Marion Morrison) had appeared with the entire USC football team in the Fairbanks vehicle The Forward Pass, which incidentally also starred Loretta Young. Fairbanks wrote, "Three years later, I got [him] a job in The Life of Jimmy Dolan." In truth, Wayne had already been cast in many B-westerns by 1933 so Fairbanks may have been exaggerating.

In any case, Fairbanks had high praise for his castmates. Of little "Freckles," he wrote, "Mickey Rooney was then about ten undersized years of age, but already so talented and bouncy it was scary." (Actually, Rooney was 12.) "We were all good in this picture - properly characterizing each part, and preventing what was basically an obvious, sentimental melodrama from becoming maudlin. All in all, we deserved the success the film enjoyed."

This film was remade with John Garfield as They Made Me a Criminal (1939) but the hard luck storyline was compromised by a sentimental finale. The Life of Jimmy Dolan is the tougher version with the Fairbanks character going unpunished for manslaughter - not an unusual occurrence for a Pre-Code melodrama.

Producer: Hal B. Wallis
Director: Archie Mayo
Screenplay: Bertram Millhauser (play), Beulah Marie Dix (play), David Boehm, Erwin S. Gelsey
Cinematography: Arthur Edeson
Film Editing: Herbert I. Leeds
Art Direction: Robert M. Haas
Music: Cliff Hess
Cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Jimmy Dolan), Loretta Young (Peggy), Aline MacMahon (Auntie), Guy Kibbee (Phlaxer), Lyle Talbot (Doc Wood), Fifi D’Orsay (Budgie).
BW-89m.

by Jeremy Arnold
The Life Of Jimmy Dolan

The Life of Jimmy Dolan

In the pre-Code drama The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. stars as a champion boxer who accidentally kills a newspaper reporter. He runs, taking on the identity of a man who died in a car crash and winding up at a home for crippled orphans. When the mortgage payment becomes due, he dons his boxing gloves again to raise the money, even though there's a good risk he'll expose himself to the one detective (Guy Kibbee) who still thinks he's alive. Rounding out the cast are Loretta Young as the young lovely who helps runs the orphanage, John Wayne in a bit part as a prizefighter, and Mickey Rooney as a kid named "Freckles." Variety liked the film, calling it "a neat, sure-footed picture that's easy on the eye and ear," and singled out Guy Kibbee for special praise in true Variety lingo: "Kibbee's work as the foggy-eyed flatfoot is the best of the cast's contributions. He is getting to be a champ picture stealer among Hollywood's character people." Fairbanks later recalled training with an ex-fighter in order to learn to fight right-handed. His character is a leftie who at the end tries to fight right-handed in order to fool the police. Fairbanks also claimed in his memoir to have gotten John Wayne his part. In 1929, Wayne (then known as Marion Morrison) had appeared with the entire USC football team in the Fairbanks vehicle The Forward Pass, which incidentally also starred Loretta Young. Fairbanks wrote, "Three years later, I got [him] a job in The Life of Jimmy Dolan." In truth, Wayne had already been cast in many B-westerns by 1933 so Fairbanks may have been exaggerating. In any case, Fairbanks had high praise for his castmates. Of little "Freckles," he wrote, "Mickey Rooney was then about ten undersized years of age, but already so talented and bouncy it was scary." (Actually, Rooney was 12.) "We were all good in this picture - properly characterizing each part, and preventing what was basically an obvious, sentimental melodrama from becoming maudlin. All in all, we deserved the success the film enjoyed." This film was remade with John Garfield as They Made Me a Criminal (1939) but the hard luck storyline was compromised by a sentimental finale. The Life of Jimmy Dolan is the tougher version with the Fairbanks character going unpunished for manslaughter - not an unusual occurrence for a Pre-Code melodrama. Producer: Hal B. Wallis Director: Archie Mayo Screenplay: Bertram Millhauser (play), Beulah Marie Dix (play), David Boehm, Erwin S. Gelsey Cinematography: Arthur Edeson Film Editing: Herbert I. Leeds Art Direction: Robert M. Haas Music: Cliff Hess Cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Jimmy Dolan), Loretta Young (Peggy), Aline MacMahon (Auntie), Guy Kibbee (Phlaxer), Lyle Talbot (Doc Wood), Fifi D’Orsay (Budgie). BW-89m. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film was shot over twenty-eight days and cost a total of $202,000, according to production notes in the AMPAS Library file on the film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1933

Remade in 1939 as "They Made Me a Criminal".

Released in United States 1933