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The Iron Man (1931)
A Pig Iron Jaw and a Mule Kick Got Him the Paper Crown.
Filmmaker(s): Tod Browning

Prizefighter Mason loses his opening fight so wife Rose leaves him for Hollywood. Without her around Mason trains and starts winning. Rose comes back and wants Mason to dump his manager Regan and replace him with her secret lover Lewis.

The Iron Man (1931)

No Cinderella

When you enter into a film, you are accepting a world. You are accepting whatever God and physics and mythology that the filmmaker has created. Within that world, wheels turn and things happen.

All too often we think the movie is about those happenings. We focus on characters and the emotions they convey. But the deeper influence of a film is in how the world works.

Over time, movie watchers develop a sensitivity to this and make choices about which worlds resonate or not.

I have decided to boycott Glazier/Howard films because they are convinced that we like a world where some bad things happen as if they were rainstorms, but the entire cosmos is infused with a happy sweetness.

If you watch film deeply, this can ruin your whole day, with great expenditures of psychic energy in buying back your individuality. So instead of seeing “cinderella Man” which is in the theatres now, I sought another boxing movie instead.

Sure, we have “Raging Bull” which is an exercise in visualising a brutal personality. And we have “Rocky” which is sort of cold war ode to nationalism. But I chose this because it is by a director whose world I respect.

Tod Browning’s world is a complex one, not categorisable in terms of a single type of God or fate, depending on how you think. He himself comes from a circus world which some elements of risk, some of heavy fate, and others of practiced comedy tied to honour.

I credit Browning with laying the groundwork that allowed noir top take hold in the 30s, probably the strongest influence in film. So this film is about a contender, several actually. And it IS a contender, but unlike Howard’s cardboard guy, this fellow has a wife that destroys the first layer of his world in order to expose and reinforce the larger world.

In the story, that’s the world of honour and striving and self assurance. In the world of film, it is the world of self-awareness and the link of fate to the game.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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