Flesh And Fury – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 2001, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Flesh And Fury Joseph Pevney’s Boxing drama featuring Tony Curtis as a deaf boxer caught in a web of exploitation.

Sales: 3. I couldn’t find much online with regards to Box Office performance – not especially strange when we go back this far. It wasn’t in the Top 10 grossers for the year, and it doesn’t seem to have been a bomb. Given Tony Curtis was involved, you can assume it did fair business. So it’s either a 2 or a 3.

Critical Consensus: 3. Same as above. It’s barely spoken above any more, and there are few contemporary or modern critical reviews. So again, doing a 2 or a 3.

Director: 3. Pevney was incredibly proficient as a director, making over 30 movies in 16 years as well as many popular TV show episodes. On one hand Flesh & Fury is just another Noir movie, hitting all of the tropes we expect of the genre today, but on the other it’s one of the best least known examples.

Performances: 4. The central quartet of Tony Curtis, Jan Sterling, Mona Freeman, Wallace Ford are great as the boxer, the blonde femme fatale, the honest love interest reporter, and the reluctant trainer.

Characters: 3. By the time we get to 1952, the Noir genre was old hat. It was still popular, but there wasn’t a lot of innovation. We have trope characters even at this point, as seen in the category above, but setting these characters in the world of sports gives a twist.

Cinematography: 3. Fine. It’s not as stylized as many of the most famous entries in the genre, but it’s fine.

Writing: 3. Again, fine, few obvious quotes or epic speeches like we sometimes found in the era, but it’s perfectly serviceable.

Plot: 3. I love the story, but I admit it’s not the most original or ground-breaking tale. It’s the little things – the deaf angle, the sporting angle, the dual love interest, the sort of progressive nature of acceptance.

Wardrobe: 3. Some of Jan Sterling’s outfits are pretty racy, but outside of that it seems to be your standard fare.

Editing: 3. Does the job. I realise for many of these standard scores you could drop to 2 – I don’t think you can give anything other than 2 or 3. The climatic boxing match is the highlight, with plenty of shots outside the ring, inside the ring, and jumping to crowd reactions, including those of our side characters.

Make up and Hair: 3. Good for the time, nothing severe with respect to cuts and bruises.

Effects: 2. Not applicable – given the other threes, I’ll go 2 here.

Art and Set: 3. All good.

Sound And Music: 4. It’s a low 4 – the music is standard forgettable 50s fare, but the sound landscape is interesting, cutting in and out to express what Curtis’ character is feeling and hearing, and at other times hissing and increasing in intensity.

Cultural Significance: 2. I’d love to say it was a major influence on Rocky, but it doesn’t seem to have been; it’s not the only boxing movie out there, but it does paint a more sympathetic picture for fighters than you see elsewhere. It was one of the first films to push Tony Curtis into more serious roles, but beyond his involvement it seems to be an all but forgotten movie.

Accomplishment: 3. It’s an accomplishment to bring some awareness to the hard of hearing community in the 1950s, in a respectful way, and making it an integral part of the story.

Stunts: 3. Solid boxing bouts.

Originality: 3. I don’t think you can go 2 here, but it may depend on your experience with the genre. It’s a noir, but it’s low on your typical crime elements and instead spends its time in the world of boxing. But, femme fatale, shady deals, scheming – everything else is by the numbers.

Miscellaneous: 3. Not much to say – 2 or 3.

Personal: 3. I was going to go with a 4 here, but given the 3s I’d already handed out when there equally could have been a 2, it only seems fair to stick with a 3 here. It’s not a film I love as much as those in later top 10s, but I’d still prefer it the majority of what hits the big screen and streaming sites these days.

Total Score: 60/100. That’s a fair representation about the film, and my feelings as a whole. It’s worth seeing for any fans of Classic Cinema, Noir, or Tony Curtis, but it isn’t going to change your life or make you fan of any of those things if you’re not already.

Tell it like it is!

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