The Life of Jimmy Dolan
Action / Drama
Directed by Archie Mayo
Produced by Hal B. Willis
Edited by Herbert I Leeds
Cast: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as Jimmy Dolan
Loretta Young as Peggy
Aline MacMahon as Auntie - Mrs. Moore
Guy Kibbee as Phlaxer
Lyle Talbot as Doc Woods
Fifi D'Orsay as Budgie
Harold Huber as Reggie Newman
Shirley Grey as Goldie West
George Meeker as Charles Magee
John Wayne as Smith
Arthur Hohl as Herman Malvin
Mickey Rooney as Freckles (uncredited)
Boxer Jimmy Dolan is living a double life. In his public life he is clean cut, avoiding the temptations of both women and alcohol, but in reality he is an avid user of both. His worlds collide when some out of town friends find him drunk with the beautiful blond, Goldie West. When Jimmy discovers that reporter Charles Magee is going to publish the truth he confronts the reporter and punches him, accidentally killing the reporter. Jimmy’s manager, Doc Woods, panics, robs Jimmy of his money and his favorite watch and takes off out of town with Goldie. On the way out of town, Doc’s car blows a tire, sending it out of control, killing both Goldie and Doc and burning the bodies beyond recognition. When police discover the crash, they find Jimmy’s watch on Doc and assume Jimmy was driving the car and is dead. The case on Charles Magee is closed, but Phlaxer, a former detective who left the force after helping to convict an innocent man of murder, is not so sure. Jimmy was known as a southpaw, and the watch was found on the right hand.
Meanwhile Jimmy heads out of town, penniless and alone. He changes his name to Jack Dougherty, and hops a train. He winds up some time later at a farm that doubles as a home for crippled children run by Peggy and her aunt, Mrs. Moore. Jimmy collapses from hunger, and the kindly Peggy takes him in and nurses him back to health. As Jimmy’s strength returns, he helps around the farm and finds himself taken with both the children and the lovely Peggy. Jimmy asks Peggy to marry him and life seems to be going great.
However, Jimmy’s past is about to close in on him when one of the children wins an award for a photograph of Jimmy and it is published in the paper. Phlaxer sees the photo and heads to the farm to prove that Jimmy is still alive. Meanwhile Jimmy has agreed to fight in a match against King Cobra to win money for the farm’s mortgage. When Phlaxer encounters Peggy and the children at the arena however, he becomes convinced that a man can change, and leaves Jimmy to his new life as Jack Dougherty.
Based on the play “Sucker” which premiered off Broadway on April 4, 1933.
Mickey Rooney plays a bit part in this film as Freckles, although he is not mentioned in the credits.
This film was remade with John Garfield and The Dead End Kids in 1939 as They Made Me a Criminal. This film also has a couple of gems: A very young Mickey Rooney, already displaying his trademark charm, and John Wayne, cast completely out of type as a nervous young boxer.