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The first of these, Dempsey, was just as crude and uneducated as Louis, and yet he was able to parlay his connections into a long lifetime career as a successful restauranteur just off Times Square, a restaurant that became a magnet for tourists until the day that it closed. That sort of ending would have been impossible for Joe Louis, if for no other reason than the fact that in his era black boxers were seen as little more than exotic specimen** that were only vaguely acknowledged as human beings. That's not ideology speaking, but merely empirical observation. (Louis was able to parlay his connections into jobs as a wrestling referee and a Las Vegas greeter, IOW a glorified welfare recipient.***)
People who lived through the Jim Crow era are sometimes unaware of just how few people alive today have the same first hand memories
YR: I was wondering on the thread where we talked about Micheal Mann's movie, Ali, whether it was true Ali ducked a rematch with Foreman after Zaire. For some reason I'm drawing a blank.
Dempsey wasn't just more popular than Louis, he was more popular than any professional boxer in the world until the 70s heyday of Muhammad Ali.
And why may that have been? I thought that Louis was the man who showed the world in a mere 124 seconds that the Master Race was just a myth, and spit in Hitler's eye right along with Donald Duck. What could have been more heroic than that?
Secondly, Dempsey became the world's biggest sports star right in the heart of the Roaring 20s, while Louis ascended during the nadir of the Great Depression.
There's something to that, but then Louis was also the champ all during the boom years of World War II, which didn't seem to do much for him other than to make him a living example of a variant of the Tennessee Ernie Ford song: Another few years older and another few hundred thousand dollars deeper in debt. For all those friends of his, not one of them was apparently a reputable tax adviser.
This again is a distinction worth noting between Louis and Dempsey, but with every passing paragraph you're even further stretching the chasm between Louis and Jackie Robinson, which was the main point I've been making all along.
The question then is: What would have happened to Louis if he'd tried ingratiating himself with similar celebrities?
Do you think they'd have let him into their circle? Do you think they'd have let him act in the B-movie circuit for any director but Oscar Micheaux or Spencer Williams?
Perhaps so, but just as surely, you can't compare the relatively fleeting impact of Joe Louis (or of any other African American public figure prior to 1947) to the far more lasting legacy of Jackie Robinson.
I like Raging Bull but it doesnt really stand up to repeat viewings. Without the crazy, over the top performance of Joe Pesci that movie is merely good not great. Granted Pesci is part of the movie, but the only great part for me is Pesci's performance, the plot, the acting, the dialogue is not up there.
That was one flaw, for me: too many minor characters who appeared and disappeared. But they didn't leave loose ends; they were just sort of randomly used where relevant. Maybe that's not a flaw; maybe that's just realistic.
As for an Ali movie, I'd give serious thought to focusing on his time in prison, assuming it was interesting. I know a fair bit about his career, but I've heard literally nothing about what his time inside was actually like.
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