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Featured boxing book:
Bertram Millhauser and Beulah Marie Dix, Hot Leather (The Life of Jimmy Dolan). 1938; New York: Bantam, 1948.
A good and very old-fashioned novel, republished by Bantam as an inexpensive paperback ten years after it appeared under another title (given in parentheses above). A gritty look at boxing culture in New York is followed by a redeeming view of the same culture in California--the boxer as criminal, vs. the boxer as savior. It's a clever blend of noir elements with sentiments not out of place in a Hallmark greeting card.

A party celebrating the new champ's victory gets overheated, and the champ, sold out by a couple of friends, goes on the lam. Years pass, during which the boxer successfully escapes New York and starts a new life in California taking care of children with polio. Jimmy (known as Joe in California) is a hardened cynic, but at the children's home a hardened grandmother, her charming granddaughter, and a handful of kids with faith in their boxing hero chip away at this granite image with predictable but gratifying results.

The book was made into a movie the year after it appeared. The screenplay, by the novels' authors and others, stays close to the book but makes some effective twists. The film is called "They Made Me a Criminal" and stars John Garfield and Claude Rains, directed by Busby Berkeley. The film is a a grand period piece, as is the book, and it has good boxing sequences. Reading the book won't spoil the movie, and seeing the movie won't spoil the book. You can't say that often. I recommend both.

Garfield had some boxing training as a young man in the Bronx (citing Wiki here) and made a second noirish movie about boxing in 1947, "Body and Soul," directed by Robert Rossen.

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Summer 2018