Cast & Crew
When country boy Joe Palooka, the son of ex-boxing champion Pete Palooka, knocks out Dynamite Wilson during an argument, Knobby Walsh, Wilson's manager, declares him a pugilistic genius and talks him into signing a contract. Joe leaves his girl friend Anne and his mother Mayme, a former Broadway star who left her errant husband to raise Joe "clean," without divulging his intentions to Mayme. After Joe is knocked out on the first punch of his first fight, Knobby is about to send him back home when Doc Wise, the manager of middleweight champion Al McSwatt, persuades him to use Joe as a phony challenger. Although he is the better boxer, McSwatt, under the degenerating influence of gold-digging Spanish nightclub dancer Nina Madero, shows up drunk for the bout and loses. Now champion, Joe wins the instant admiration of Nina and, while boxing in a series of matches rigged by Knobby, indulges in his success with her. Mayme, having heard the McSwatt fight on the radio, travels to New York to save Joe, but he casually dismisses her admonitions. Tricked by McSwatt into accepting a rematch, Joe learns the truth about his success from Knobby, who tries to persuade him to give up his undeserved title. That same day, however, Pete Palooka arrives in New York and offers to train his son for the match. Though better trained, Joe nonetheless loses the bout, and finally accepts that boxing is not for him. As a final goodwill gesture, Knobby, on the run, gives Joe the money that he won betting against him in the match, which Joe, Mayme, Pete and Anne use to open Palooka's Country Inn. Later, Knobby visits the inn with his new wife, Nina, and their newborn, big-nosed baby boy.
Gus Arnheim And His Orchestra
Herbert T. Edwards
The working title of this film was Joe Palooka. Durante's first name was spelled as both Jimmie and Jimmy in the onscreen credits. According to a Film Daily news item, plans for this production began as early as August 1932, when Lewis Foster was announced as a story writer. A June 5, 1933 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that producer Edward Small had signed Lou Breslow to collaborate with Arthur Ripley on a screen treatment. The contribution of these writers to the final film has not been determined. Alfred Werker was announced as director in a June 6, 1933 Hollywood Reporter news item. On June 16, 1933, Hollywood Reporter revealed that the project had been called off due to "story difficulties that eight to ten writers could not surmount." In a June 18, 1933 news item, however, Hollywood Reporter reported that Small had declared that the postponement was due to Durante's illness, not story problems. A July 27, 1933 Hollywood Reporter item announced that Small was negotiating with William Beaudine to direct. According to a August 5, 1933 item, Joe Traub was hired to write "comedy sequences." Traub's contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. According to a October 19, 1933 Hollywood Reporter news item, Stuart Erwin was "forced" to accept his role in the picture because of contract obligations, but had refused it because he felt the film was "all Durante." Although Reliance promised to bring in James Gleason to "build up" Erwin's part, Gleason did not appear in the final film. Abe Lyman and his band were announced as cast members in a Hollywood Reporter pre-production news item, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. In 1946, Monogram produced a series of films using the Joe Palooka character. Leon Errol and Joe Kirkwood, Jr., as "Joe," were featured in the series, which ran until 1951. In 1954, Kirkwood produced and starred in a syndicated television series called The Joe Palooka Story.