Sunday, February 25, 2024

Tonight's Movie: Iron Man (1951) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Tonight I wrapped up viewing the Kino Lorber Dark Side of Cinema XVI collection with IRON MAN (1951).

I especially enjoyed this set, which was released last month. It also includes the previously reviewed CHICAGO DEADLINE (1949) and MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET (1942).

Like CHICAGO DEADLINE, I'd previously seen IRON MAN at the 2017 Noir City Film Festival in Hollywood.

As I commented then, I don't feel the movie particularly qualifies as film noir, but I was glad it was screened at Noir City thanks to Universal Pictures making a new print available.

I felt the same way about the movie's inclusion in this boxed set, as I like it and appreciated the chance to revisit it in such a nice print. The Blu-ray is from a 2K scan of the 35mm fine grain, and it does a nice job showing off the black and white cinematography of Carl E. Guthrie.

IRON MAN is the story of Coke Mason (Jeff Chandler), a small-town coal miner whose perenially hustling brother (Stephen McNally) encourages him to become a boxer.

Coke isn't really interested in boxing, but he's persuaded that it will be a way to leaving mining and make some quick money so that he can open his own business and marry his girlfriend Rose (Evelyn Keyes).

Coke is capable of defeating opponents, but his tactics are questionable. He turns into a vicious "mad dog" in the ring, causing audiences to boo rather than cheer his wins.

Rose, who was initially enthused about Coke's career, wants to get him out of the ring and makes a bad decision to that end. (I guess one could say it's her femme fatale moment in a story where she's mostly the good girl.) Coke must then decide if he wants to continue boxing, including coming to terms with what's going on with him when he enters the ring.

I'm a Chandler fan, and I find him moving as a man who isn't listened to for much of the movie -- particularly by his fiancee or his brother. One of the best scenes comes late in the film when he finally spills out the childhood experience at the root of his problems to a newly sympathetic sportswriter, well-played by Jim Backus.

Overall it's a solid drama thanks to a fairly good script and the strong cast, which also includes Rock Hudson, James Arness, and Joyce Holden (YOU NEVER CAN TELL). Holden only has a few scenes, but she's personable as a photographer, and in another screenplay she could easily have become the movie's femme fatale, but she doesn't get the opportunity to do more than put out some initial feelers on Coke's availability.

One might say that the movie is "noir adjacent," being based on a book by W. R. Burnett. Several of Burnett's books, including THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, were filmed, and he also worked on screenplays for significant films such as THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942).

The lead cast members, including Chandler, Keyes, and McNally, all worked in the film noir genre, particularly Keyes and McNally, so thanks to all these associations, this boxing film does have a bit of a noir vibe.

I don't think IRON MAN is as strong as another "noir adjacent" boxing drama of the era from director Joseph Pevney, FLESH AND FURY (1952), but it's a worthwhile 82 minutes.

The Blu-ray includes a commentary track by Gary Gerani. While this film's trailer is not included as an extra, the disc does also feature a gallery of half a dozen trailers for other films available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

I write frequently here about the Dark Side of Cinema sets and have enjoyed every one, but this particular collection is on the high end for me due to my enjoyment of the casts and the films themselves. Recommended.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray collection.


Anonymous Barry Lane said...

After reading your review I segued to Flesh and Fury. I saw both films on their initial release and enjoyed both and was really taken with Tony Curtis, as you were and my observation, Tony Curtis, Cary Grant, John Garfield, and Henry Winkler as Fonzie, all look somewhat alike.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Barry Lane said...

Getting int o look-a-likes,Gable clones include John Carroll, James Craig, and David Janssen.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m looking forward to picking up this set thanks to your reviews. I’m a sucker for a good, gritty pugilist film from the ‘50s; although i was a bit confused whether Chandler was playing a pug named Coke or Cole…

7:41 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Barry, thanks for your feedback on both films. I thought Tony Curtis was great in FLESH AND FURY!

I particularly see the Gable-Carroll-Craig similarities.

Anonymous, thank you so much, I guess I wrote this too late in the evening LOL. I've now made Chandler's character name consistent throughout! :) Hope you enjoy the films.

Best wishes,

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Barry Lane said...


Curtis and Garfield might be brothers, twins. Winkler could be Grant's young brother. I am only talking about the shape of their faces. Together, somehow that all, at least to me, have a familial relationship. Think about it.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Barry Lane said...

Add George Montgomery to the Gable look-alikes.

12:39 PM  

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