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The Prizefighter and the Lady

The Prizefighter and the Lady(1933)


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A working title of this film was The Broadway Racket. According to a modern interview with Myrna Loy, another working title was The Sailor and the Lady. For Canadian distribution, the film's title was changed to The Conquering Sex. According to a January 1934 Hollywood Reporter news item, the title was changed because M-G-M was concerned that the original title might frighten away women viewers. Professional heavyweight boxer Max Baer made his screen debut in the film. At the time of the film's production, Primo Carnera, who also made his screen debut in the picture, was the world's heavyweight boxing champion. Baer was considered the main contender for Carnera's crown, and in 1934, he defeated Carnera for the title. Variety notes that Carnera refused to be knocked out at the end of the film and agreed to the draw decision in the script only after the studio added an extra $10,000 to his $35,000 salary. Hollywood Reporter notes that Baer was "mutilated" for the first time in his two-year boxing career when he had two teeth knocked out during a staged fight. According to the modern interview with Myrna Loy, Baer studied Carnera's boxing techniques during the filming and later used this "scouting" information to beat Carnera. In March 1934, Daily Variety announced that the picture had been banned in Germany because Baer was Jewish.
       An August 1933 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed were writing songs for the picture, but the film's only song is credited to David L. Snell. A May 1933 Hollywood Reporter news item states that Josef von Sternberg was first slated to direct the picture, with Joan Crawford, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone as the stars. By June 1, 1933, production was halted so that Crawford could start work on M-G-M's The Dancing Lady. On June 5, 1933, von Sternberg, who was in disagreement with writer Carey Wilson, who reportedly was working on a screen treatment, asked to be released from the project. According to an August 1933 Film Daily news item, W. S. Van Dyke became the director after the exit of Howard Hawks, who initially was assigned to the film after von Sternberg. While Hawks was assigned to the film, Elissa Landi was under consideration for the film's "other female lead," and Mae Clarke was suggested as a possible leading lady, according to August 1933 Hollywood Reporter news items. Although Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room" states that M-G-M stars Lionel Barrymore, Jean Hersholt, Lupe Velez and Johnny Weissmuller were to appear as extras in the final boxing sequence, they were not spotted in the viewed print. Motion Picture Herald gives the running time as 68 minutes, but this time is most likely an error.
       According to a modern interview with director Howard Hawks, the original story, on which Hawks claims he worked, was written with Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in mind. Gable was supposed to play a mature, stable character, while Harlow was to be a sexy dimwit. When Baer and Loy were cast, Hawks wanted out of the project but was persuaded to start the production for Van Dyke and help Baer with his acting. Writer John Lee Mahin apparently disputes Hawks's claims, saying in the same modern source that Hawks was fired after two days of shooting because he was working too slowly. For his work on the film, Frances Marion received an Academy Award nomination in the Writing (Original Story) category.