The Prizefighter and the Lady

Max Baer in a publicity still for The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933), his film debut.  He had another 21 acting credits through 1958, all unremarkable.  More importantly, he was world heavyweight champ for exactly one year, from Jun 14, 1934 to Jun 13, 1935.  He was also father to Max Baer Jr, best known for 272 episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies as dimwit son Jethro Bodine, and in a few episodes Jethro’s twin sister Jethrine Bodine.

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The Prizefighter and the Lady

The Prizefighter and the Lady is Howard Hawks’ 15th film.

The Prizefighter and the Lady premiered Nov 10, 1933.

The Prizefighter and the Lady


Max Baer and Myrna Loy in a publicity still for The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933).  While at MGM, Howard Hawks developed the project for MGM stars Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, but without any real power at the studio, Max and Myrna were cast instead.  Howard filmed the first few scenes and then quit/was replaced.  While he went from studio to studio for the remainder of his career, he never went back to MGM.  Furthermore, Myrna’s character in the film is a sophisticated showgirl, but dressed in an apron in the publicity still, the studio is promoting a much different image for her.

The Prizefighter and the Lady

Boxer Primo Carnera behind the scenes of The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) with Myrna Loy.  Primo had 22 acting credits dating back to 1931, often in Italy, and through Hercules Unchained in 1957.  Primo was a real professional boxer from 1928 to 1945 and stood 6’7 1/2″.

The Prizefighter and the Lady

When Howard Hawks left The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) after filming the first few scenes, he was replaced by WS (one take) Van Dyke.

The Prizefighter and the Lady

Myrna Loy as Belle Morgan in The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933).   Myrna was a terrific star in Hollywood’s golden age, but she was miscast in a role that was conceived by Howard Hawks for Jean Harlow.  Although the film is implausible with Myrna, it earned Frances Marion an Oscar nomination for her original screenplay.

The Prizefighter and the Lady

Max Baer and Myrna Loy in a publicity still for The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933).  The following year, Myrna made The Thin Man, a beloved series with William Powell, including six features through 1947.  Myrna previously had a small part in Howard Hawks’ most widely seen silent film, A Girl in Every Port (1928) as the girl from Singapore.

The Prizefighter and the Lady

Publicity still for The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) with a spoiler alert.  Max and Primo were real professional boxers of the day.  A real boxer, Tony Bellew, was used in the recent Rocky update, as the opponent of Apollo Johnson in Creed (2015).

The Prizefighter and the Lady

Former world heavyweight boxing champion (1919-1926) Jack Dempsey played himself as a promoter in The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) with Myrna Loy and Max Baer.

The Prizefighter and the Lady

Trainer Vince Barnett has boxer Max Baer’s ear as promoter Walter Huston listens up in The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933).  This is the third Howard Hawks project with Vince Barnett, after Tiger Shark as one of the tuna fishermen, and Scarface, as Tony Camonte’s “seckaterry.”