Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Jon Breen's recent post over at Ed Gorman and Friends got me to thinking about bio-pics. I wondered the same thing that Jon did about Max Baer: was he as bad as he was made out to be in the movie? His son (yeah, the guy who played Jethro on Beverly Hillbillies) doesn't seem to think so. He was pretty upset about the movie. I did a little checking on the 'net, and Baer, while he was known as the "Clown Prince of Boxing" and certainly did his share of womanizing, doesn't seem to have been nearly as cruel and mean-spirited as he was depicted in the movie.

But my question is, why do we care? When I was growing up, nobody even thought twice about whether a movie based on historical characters was accurate. Most of the time, movies about heroic figures like Lincoln were pretty reverential. Movies about outlaws and gunslingers were the same. A historical figure might have a dark side, but it would never be more than hinted out. Or the villainous characters might have been exaggerated in the opposite way. Nobody minded, as far as I know.

And now it matters. Why? What changed? I'm sure there's an answer. I just don't know what it is.


Jeff Meyerson said...

1. It's more of a PC world today.
2. In the old days people were just so happy to get out of the house and see a movie they didn't care. Seriously, they probably were not as educated as we are today and there was no internet or other easy way of checking.

The movie is BS historically, and I wonder if that has anything to do with how poorly it is doing at the box office, especially considering the rave reviews. I doubt it has to do with Crowe's arrest. My guess is it has much more to do with opening it at the wrong time of the year.

"Hey, Seabiscuit opened in the summer and was a feel-good hit about a Depression underdog, so why not us?"

If they'd waited until the fall I bet they'd have done much better.

As for Baer, my father not only remembers him from his own childhood but remembers the fight. One of the fighters he supposedly "murdered" actually died after fighting Primo Carnera, long after he fought Baer. And he was very remorseful about the one he did kill, and it was NOT on purpose.

For some reason Ron Howard & his screenwriters couldn't trust the truth and had to juice it up by turning it into a good vs. evil showdown.

On the other hand my father was glad they didn't show the big Jewish star Baer wore on his trunks.

Bill said...

I think you're right about both 1 and 2.

Didn't Baer have a small Star of David on his trunks in the movie?

Hardluck Writer said...

A little research shows that Max Baer was traumatized after killing a boxer in the ring - lost his next 4 fights after that. Talking about bio-pics, did you see "Beyond the Sea", Kevin Spacey's Bobby Darin saga? Much, much better than I expected. And the actress they got to play Sandra Dee looked pretty much like the real thing.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bill said...

I liked Beyond the Sea quite a bit. I'd put a link to my post if I could do that sort of thing, which I can't.