Gentleman Jim is technically a biography, though I suspect it presents a more accurate representation of its star than its actual subject. Still, Errol Flynn is the perfect guy for a role like this, especially considering the overall tone of the film.
Boxer James T. Corbett was arguably the first sports celebrity, rising from a bank teller to world champion through fighting techniques that had never been seen before. As depicted in the film, Corbett is brash, ambitious, cocky and audacious. At the same time, he’s congenial, likable and fiercely loyal to his family, even if they don’t fit in with the upper-class snobs Corbett finds himself consorting with.
Whether or not that’s an accurate picture of the real Gentleman Jim doesn’t really matter, nor does his amusing love-hate relationship with socialite Victoria Ware (Alexis Smith), which for all I know is just a manufactured romantic subplot. What does matter is Flynn’s effortless charm and charisma in the role, which isn’t too far removed from his own cultivated persona, and the undeniable chemistry he shares with Smith.
|"From now on, you can call me The Cardigan Kid."
In the end, we probably learn less about the real Gentleman Jim than we’d find on Wikipedia. The film checks-off his career highlights and creates an entertaining foil or two, while Corbett himself is never presented with any depth or complexity. But as another fun Errol Flynn vehicle, it works just fine.
3 LOONEY TUNES SHORTS - The Dover Boys at Pimento University; Foney Fables; Hobby Horse-Kaffs (w/ Porky Pig).
LADY ESTHER SCREEN GUILD PLAYHOUSE RADIO BROADCAST - Featuring Errol Flynn & Alexis Smith.