Saturday, March 11, 2006

# Posted 10:19 PM by Patrick Porter  

SAVE ME JOE LOUIS: I mentioned below that I am guilty of enjoying violent Hollywood films, especially the more pugilistic ones. Normblog lists the great boxing films. Personally, my favourite is still Raging Bull. For those out there unlucky not to have seen it, De Niro is a brilliant fighter who is dysfunctional in everything else he does outside the ring. Outside the ring he is crass, adulterous, boorish and tedious. The ring is the only place where he can excel and come fully into being. John Birmingham, an Australian columnist and 'gonzo journalist', once wrote an article that's nowhere on the web. He argued that the boxer's tragic stature comes from his belief that he can bend the world into the right shape with his fists, when everything around him is beyond control.

Birmingham relates an anecdote told by Martin Luther King, reflecting how the boxing legend acquires mythic dimensions for some of his followers, especially when he symbolises a particular struggle. I'm not sure how well-know the story is in the USA. Its not clear whether the story is true, but its a powerful one. As it goes, one of the southern states adopted poison gas to replace the gallows. Originally, a microphone was placed inside the sealed death chamber so that scientific observers could hear the dying prisoner's words. The first victim to be recorded was a young African-American man:

As the pellet dropped into the container, and the gas curled upward, through the microphone came these words: "Save me, Joe Louis. Save me, Joe Louis. Save me, Joe Louis..."
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion

A good list, but weak on the older films. Many of which are excellent. I quite like Body & Soul, despite the character failings of its writer. I also recommend Walter Hill's wonderful Hard Times (1975) with Charles Bronson and James Coburn. It kindof got lost at some point, and is well worth hunting out.
Post a Comment