Body and Soul (1947)

Body and Soul (1947) Front Cover DVD

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Body and Soul (1947) Back Cover DVD

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The film begins with boxing champ Charlie Davis (John Garfield) waking up from a nightmare. The scar-faced Davis rushes to to see his mother and ex-girlfriend. His mother is shocked to see him and eventually kicks the man out of her house. Davis gets tanked and by 3 in the morning ends up in the arms of the trampy nightclub singer Alice (the leggy Hazel Brooks). The next day, hungover Davis prepares for the evening's main event. His gangster manager Roberts (Lloyd Gough) reminds Davis he's being paid $60,000 to throw the fight. As Davis tapes up, he flashes back to the beginning of his boxing career and the events leading up to the match ? and his broken relationships with his family and friends.

Things were tough in the old neighborhood. Davis sees his poor broken father killed after a mobster bombing of a neighboring speak easy collapses the family candy store. Davis has just decided to take up boxing against the wishes of his mother (Anne Revere). His best friend Shorty (Joseph Pevney) becomes his manager and he quickly convinces a boxing trainer to take a chance on the young Jewish street kid. After a series of successful bouts Quinn (William Conrad) gets Davis a shot at the title, for a price. He sells his boxer to a mobster that owns the current champ. This is when it becomes every man and woman for themselves. Shorty protests Davis' new found connections with the mob. Davis ? following the advice of his manager - cancels his wedding plans the same night he gets engaged. His girlfriend (Lili Palmer) quits him and his mother disowns him and is left penniless. Meanwhile, Quinn is trying to make it with sexy Alice who in turn is trying to strike it rich with Davis.

None of this drama fazes the young pugilist. He has a shot at the champ and he's convinced himself that once he's champ he can take control of his career and straighten everything out. Davis is paid cash advances and given a swanky apartment with a rotating bar that conveniently hides a painting of his former fianc?e when necessary. He pummels the champ who's left with permanent brain damage. Shorty is disgusted by it all. He's fired, beaten up and eventually killed. Davis convinces himself that Shorty's death is an accident ? not the direct result of his own mob ties. He does, however, feel guilty about hurting Ben (played by former real-life welterweight Canada Lee) so he hires him to be in his corner.

After many fights Davis is put in the same spot Ben was years ago. He must defend his title against an up-and-coming fighter. Davis is told to take a dive; and to take his payoff money and bet against himself.

Some of the then original but now overworked story lines probably makes the film seem tired when viewed by some checking it out for the first time today. I wonder if people recognize the film as being the boxing movie almost all that followed emulate? I'm convinced the Rocky franchise wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Body and Soul. Nearly all of Body and Soul's plot lines are used in the series.


John Garfield as Charley Davis
Lilli Palmer as Peg Born
Hazel Brooks as Alice
Anne Revere as Anna Davis
William Conrad as Quinn
Joseph Pevney as Shorty Polaski
Lloyd Gough as Roberts
Canada Lee as Ben Chaplin
Artie Dorrell as Jack Marlowe
Virginia Gregg as Irma
Milton Kibbee as Dan - Marlowe's Manager
Sid Melton as Ringsider
Sheldon Jett as Sam - Pool Hall Proprietor

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