Spirit of Youth (April 1, 1938)
Released on April 1, 1938: Legendary boxer Joe Louis stars in a movie about his career.
Produced by Lew Golder
Directed by Harry L. Fraser
Written by Arthur Hoerl
The Actors: Joe Louis (Joe Thomas), Clarence Muse (Frankie Walburn), Edna Mae Harris (Mary Bowdin), Mae Turner (Flora Bailey), Cleo Desmond (Nora Thomas), Mantan Moreland (Creighton 'Crickie' Fitzgibbons), Jewel Smith (Duke Emerald), Tom Southern (Doctor Bowdin), Jess Lee Brooks (Jeff Thomas), Marguerite Whitten (Eleanor Thomas), Clarence Brooks (Speedy), The Plantation Choir (singers), The Creole Chorus (singers), The Big Apple Dancers (dancers), Lennie Bluett (dancer), Stanley Blystone (boss of the storage and transfer company), Mildred Boyd (chorus girl and dancer), Willie Callahan (boxing opponent), Noble 'Kid' Chissell (reporter), Lester Dorr (newspaper columnist Bob), Joel Fluellen (kitchen worker), Mildred Gover (friend of Mrs. Thomas), Alfred Grant (waiter), Kit Guard (barfly), Seal Harris (sparring partner), Bob Kortman (Tommy Bright), Pat McKee (referee James Murphy), Tommie Moore (nightclub patron), Janette O'Dell (Mary Bowdin as a child), Lee Phelps (ring announcer), Anthony Scott (Joe Thomas as a child)
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The Knockout Puncher
America is well known for its passion for killing criminals. Doctor Martin Luther King wrote in 1964, “More than twenty-five years ago, one of the southern states adopted a new method of capital punishment. Poison gas supplanted the gallows. In its earliest stages, a microphone was placed inside the sealed death chamber so that scientific observers might hear the words of the dying prisoner. The first victim was a young Negro. 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.”
It takes more than a few sentences to accurately describe any sports legend, but with great humility I’d like to share a few facts that might inspire you to search for more information about the life and legend of Joe Louis Barrow. Boxing authority Ring Magazine in 2003 listed the greatest punchers of all time, and boxer Joe Louis was number one. With 70 professional boxing matches Joe Louis had 52 knock outs and only three losses. He is usually listed as the fourth greatest boxer of all time.
Joe Louis had three losses out of 70 matches, and one loss was to German champion fighter Max Schmeling in 1936. In June of 1938, a couple of months after Joe Louis finished filming this movie, he faced Max Schmeling in the boxing ring once again. On the evening of June 22, 1938, the boxing match was broadcast live on radio throughout the world, and it probably had the largest worldwide audience for any live event up to that time. The match lasted a few seconds more than two minutes. Max Schmeling managed two feeble punches at the Brown Bomber while Joe Louis pummeled Schmeling. Schmeling dropped to the canvas three times in those two minutes, and the third time he fell to the floor he did not get up, ending the fight.
Power like Joe Louis had always commands respect, but Joe Louis was about more than brute power. During the 1930’s many famous boxers became infamous because of their scandalous private lives. Early in his career Joe Louis adopted seven commandments that he would live by to avoid any public scandal. Those seven rules were: 1. Never have a picture taken with a white woman. 2. Never go to a nightclub alone. 3. There will be no soft fights. 4. There will be no fixed fights. 5. Never gloat over a fallen opponent. 6. Keep a ‘dead pan’ expression in front of cameras. 7. Live and fight clean.
Joe Louis, nicknamed the Brown Bomber, was a legendary and ferocious fighter inside the boxing ring, and a gracious gentleman outside the ring. Joe Louis also had a passion for golf, and in 1952, after retiring from the boxing ring, he became the first black man that was allowed to play in a PGA tour event, thanks to a sponsor’s exemption. Joe Louis died in 1981 and President Ronald Reagan waived the rules for Arlington Cemetary so that Joe Louis could be buried there. Former apponent Max Schmelling paid for the funeral and was a pallbearer at the ceremony. Joe Louis was a complete and total legend among all athletes, and a world-changing gentleman among men of any color between 1934 and 1951. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Clarence Muse and Clarence Brooks
Clarence Muse and Lester Dorr
Cleo Desmond and Mildred Gover
Edna Mae Harris
Edna Mae Harris, Cleo Desmond and Marguerite Whitten
Edna Mae Harris and Mae Turner
Edna Mae Harris
Janette O'Dell and Anthony Scott
Joe Louis and Edna Mae Harris
Joe Louis and Clarence Muse
Mantan Moreland and Joe Louis
Tom Southern and Jess Lee Brooks