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Cast | Classic Lines | Notes | Pictures | Quotes | My Summary | My Review
|Boxing Historian||Nate Fleischer|
|Boxing Fan||Judy Singer|
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Robert Rein
Produced by Jay Bonafield
Edited by Julian Bergman
Music by Gerald Fried including 'March of the Gloved Gladiator'
"This is a fight fan. Fan - short for fanatic. There's a
legion just like him in the United States. Each year he shoves his share of
ninety million dollars under the wicket for the privilege of attending places
where matched pairs of men will get up on a canvas-covered platform and commit
legal assault and lawful battery. What is the fascination? What does the fan
look for? Competitive sports? Scientific skills? Partly. Mostly he seeks action."
"It's a living. For some, not much of a living. There are six thousand men like these in America -- professional prizefighters. Only six hundred will make a living at all - and of these only sixty will make a good living. One out of one hundred."
"Before a fight there's always that last look in the mirror. Time to wonder what it will reflect tomorrow."
"In these hours he can feel his body tightening, but it's a tightness that does not come from lack of confidence, it's the pressure of the last waiting. Here in a place where the walls are so close a man can barely move his body around. If only the fight would come, then everything else would not be so bad - not really bad at all."
"Walter isn't concerned with the hands of the clock now, just his own hands. As he gets ready to walk out there in the arena in front of the people, Walter is slowly becoming another man. This is the man who cannot lose, who must not lose. The hard movements of his arms and fists are different from what they were an hour ago. They belong to a fierce new person. They're part of the arena man, the fighting machine that the crowd outside has paid to see in fifteen minutes."
"One man has skillfully, violently overcome another -- that's for the fan. But K.O., name of opponent, time, date, and place -- that's for the record book. But it's more than that in the life of a man who literally has to fight for his very existence. For him, it's the end of a working day."
Run time 16 minutes, B/W, not rated.
Based on Kubrick's pictorial for Look Magazine 1/18/49) entitled "Prizefighter."
It cost Stanley Kubrick $3,900 to make and he sold it for $4,000 to RKO.
Part of the RKO Pathe Inc. presents This is America series.
The fight was filmed Laurel Gardens, Newark, New Jersey in 35mm 4/17/50.
Walter's apartment was at West 12th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NYC
Premiered at the Paramount Theater in New York 4/26/51
Alexander Singer also worked with Kubrick on The Killing and Killer's Kiss. His wife Judy appeared in the crowd scenes.
Douglas Edwards died 10/13/90, Walter Cartier died 8/16/95.
Chapter 4 of Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures covers the film, but is only 1:07 long.
About the film
The Day of a Fight article from Look Magazine
Prizefighter Article from Look Magazine 1949
Prizefighter Picture from Look Magazine 1949
Alex Singer in 2001
From the film
Opening Shot of MSG
Overzealous fan during opening fight
A boxer getting knocked out of the ring into the crowd
Nate Fleischer at work
Cartier vs. James Poster
Walter and Vince at home
Walter getting weighed in
Walter looking out the window during the long wait
Walter flexes his hand in the dressing room while Vince waits behind him
Walter sitting in the ring with Bobby across from him
Walter KO's Bobby
Under the main picture is, "A grim resolve to win his fight grips young middleweight fighter Walter Cartier as he waits with his manager Bobby Gleason." Article - The prize ring is a cruel taskmaster..." - Prizefighter article
"Kubrick shot several features on Boxing for Look, one on the rising young fighter Walter Cartier. Passionate about the sport, he realized he's found the subject of his first film. Following Day of the Fight Kubrick quit his job at Look and devoted himself to making films." - Narration from Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
"Day of the Fight was Stanley's first effort at film making. I was his assistant on that and I'm very proud of the fact that I operated the second camera during the final fight sequence, which was a real fight. We were alternating with each other. I was shooting when he was loading. I got the knockdown because Stanley was loading (laughs)." - Alex Singer 2001
The Madison Square Garden marquee reads "Tonite Boxing". The narrator describes a fight fan or fanatic,
lining up to see a boxing match, a 90 million dollar a year business. The main
thing he looks for is action - violence, the thrill of one man overcoming
another. He describes the type of punches - Sunday, bolo, roundhouse. They are
there to see blood - someone else's. A series of fights are shown - indoor and
outdoor and boxers go down in each sequence. But why do the fighters do it?
Where do they come from? Sometimes from the docks, good colleges or part timers
grocery store. It's economic, a living, though not much. There are only 6000
pros in America, only 600 will make a living and of those only 60 will make a
good living. There is also the prestige, being the hero, the champion of your
division. Being the champ means wealth and fame, your name in the record books
The books show human beings who fight for a living. Nate Fleischer, a boxing historian, turns through the book of records. They pick Walter Cartier, one fighter at random, a middleweight. Tonight at 10pm he is fighting. At 6am begins the waiting. He is in his three room apartment he shares with his aunt and his dog. Vincent, his identical twin brother and manager is in town. Every fight is more important than the next, he must keep winning. The two men leave their apartment for morning mass. He is 24 and has been boxing since he was 3. In WWII he fought and served with his brother in the same outfit. It is important for him to get holy communion in case something should go wrong in the fight. Vince is a lawyer who lives out of town and cooks for him. At noon he gets an examination from the official NJ boxing doctor. If he isn't fit, he can be disqualified. He goes to a steak joint that his friend owns to fill up on steak, but he doesn't have dinner, preferring to fight on an empty stomach. He goes back home and plays with his dog to pass the time.
No one told him to be a fighter, his family is against it. He sets up his equipment and combs his hair and gets ready to go to the arena. A friend picks him up and they ride in an open convertible. He knows the odds are 1 in a 1000 he'll be champ, but like every good fighter he forgets the odds before he enters the arena. At 8pm in the small dressing room under the stands his trainer tapes him up and gets him ready. The room is small and the pressure's intense. In a nearby room is his opponent. Walter has never seen him, but knows he has fought many tough opponents and hasn't lost. It's like Vince will be in the ring with him as he prepares him for the fight. The last minute preparation still leaves an hour before the fight. He spars with Vince and punches, he becomes a new man, a fighting machine as there are 15 minutes left. He sits down and mediates as he waits for the man to come and get him.
The fight is 10 rounds, Walter weighs 160.5, his opponent Bobby James from Long Island is 161.5 pounds. The crowd doesn't cheer for him like they do Walter. The fight begins and a surprising number of women in the crowd stand up and cheer. The narration stops when the fight starts. Blows are traded, the crowd cheers at one point, suddenly Bobby goes down and Walter's day of work is through.
Because this is Kubrick's first film, no
matter how short it is, it is a must see for anyone who is a fan of the great
man and is well worth your time. In a way it is like a prequel of Killer's Kiss
which is Kubrick's second feature film and is also about boxing.
This isn't a movie, it is a two reel documentary. In short it could be described as the day in a life of a boxer. The most interesting thing about the film is that the period it was filmed shows fans that are quite passionate about the sport. It isn't much different than today. The other interesting part is the look at Walter's day before the fight. When you watch boxing on TV you only see the fight and maybe and interview right before, but you never get to see the whole day leading up to it. While watching him go to church and playing with his dog isn't exactly riveting, it is natural, real and just nice to look at.
I think the best filming is of Walter getting ready and training right before the fight. The angles and shots are very good and you can see Kubrick shining through. I especially like the close ups of his hands with Vince in the background. Other standout shots are Walter looking out the window of a dark room, the weight in and the shot under the stool in the ring which is why I made a scans of them. The fight is also well done because it was filmed live and nothing was staged. In fact this is the only time we hear the real sounds of the day. The rest of the film features narration up to this point. It is also so surprising how fast the fight ends. It doesn't even go one round. Before hand we are lead to believe that Bobby is a fierce fighter and yet he goes down right away. It makes Walter look like the Mike Tyson of his day.
While it is an interesting little film, I don't know if it succeeded. What I mean is what is it supposed to accomplish? I think it was to put a human face on a boxer showing he isn't just a fighting animal, but a regular guy, but I don't know if people would've walked away with that feeling. I don't think that is why RKO bought it though. I'm glad they did though, because that preserved it for the rest of us to enjoy. It's a quick watch, it's well done and very enjoyable to watch and to picture a young Kubrick working on it. Some people make a big deal about how you can see Kubrick filming during the fight when Alex who manned the other camera inadvertently caught him in frame. While this is true, it is from such a distance as to render him unrecognizable.
This page © 2005-08 Alex D. Thrawn for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net