Cast & Crew
Shortly after sports promoter Trego buys boxer Johnny Rocket's contract, he learns that Johnny plans to quit the ring after his next fight at the request of his fiancée, Angela Grinnelli. Trego is convinced that Johnny has what it takes to become a champion and when he cannot induce Johnny to change his mind, Trego makes sure that he is unable to find another job. Johnny and Angela marry, and when Angela becomes pregnant, Johnny asks Trego to take him back. One day while Johnny trains, Gloria Van Ness, the daughter of a newspaper publisher and an aspiring sports writer, comes by the gym. Trego introduces her to Johnny, whom he presents as the next big fighter. Gloria is interested in Johnny romantically, but devoted to Angela, he spurns her advances. One night, while Johnny is in the ring, Angela gives birth and the baby dies shortly afterward. Johnny feels guilty, but soon becomes even more dedicated to winning the championship. Before long, Johnny's head is turned by Gloria's interest and Angela leaves him. Then, convinced that he is undefeatable, Johnny fires Trego. In revenge, Trego gives Johnny a drugged mouthpiece and he loses his fight. Because Johnny's poor performance made it appear that he intentionally threw the fight, he is suspended from boxing. Now that he is no longer famous, Gloria drops Johnny, and using an assumed name, Johnny starts fighting in small towns. Eventually he suffers a concussion and is warned that he must never fight again. When Johnny learns that Angela paid his hospital bills, he attempts to see her, but is sent away by Angela's father. Feeling hopeless, Johnny enters another match. When Angela learns this, she rushes to the ring to stop him, but is too late. Johnny is not badly hurt, however, and now reunited, he and Angela leave for the country, where Johnny has gotten a job on a health farm.
M. Coates Webster
"I'm getting out while I'm still healthy. I'm not going to end up to be a punch-drunk stumble bum," Johnny tells his new boxing manager Harry Trego (Anthony Quinn), who has bought out the boxer's contract without realizing retirement was on Johnny's mind.
With his new wife Angela Grinnelli (Olympe Bradna) in tow, Johnny heads for a promising new future as an exercise coach to out of shape wealthy ladies at an upstate health farm. "I'm going to be somebody!" Johnny tells Angela of his dream to eventually save up and open his own health farm.
But Harry Trego has different plans. Johnny is Harry's gravy train and he's not too anxious to see his meal ticket retire from the game. From behind the scenes Harry begins to pull the strings that will ensure Johnny returns to the ring to earn Trego the fortune he expects. He begins by making sure Johnny loses his first job at the Skyline health club. A series of setbacks soon follow. Eventually Johnny returns to the ring and Harry's clutches, never realizing how he wound up back in the game.
And there's even more trouble ahead for Johnny. He attracts the attention of a wealthy newspaper reporter, Gloria Van Ness (Virginia Field), who is intrigued by the handsome fighter. Johnny's obsession with Gloria finally drives Angela away. Johnny begins to neglect his training, alienates his manager and fans and is eventually accused of fixing a fight. His reputation shot, he goes incognito on the road as "Kid Williams" on second and third bill bouts, drowning his sorrows in drink and teetering close to becoming just the kind of punch-drunk stumble bum he always feared. "That's funny. I forgot how to untie my shoelaces," he says after an especially disastrous K.O.
Knockout is a notable B-picture for its gritty depiction of the real perils of boxing, shown in the pre- and post-fight locker room scenes where fuzzy headed, ruined fighters with broken noses and nowhere left to turn continue on the same disastrous boxing circuit.
Directed by William Clemens, Knockout features an array of memorable performances, including a fragile, heartbroken performance by French-born, Folies-Bergere dancer Olympe Bradna as the Mulberry Street girl with a convent education. However, Bradna's French accent suggests she comes from more exotic stock than Italian-American.
A character actor with real range, Arthur Kennedy brought his long experience playing cynical tough guys to his performance as the rough and tumble Johnny Rocket in Knockout. Though Kennedy was nominated 5 times for Academy Awards, he was equally adept on the stage, including a notable appearance in the late 1940s in two Arthur Miller plays: "Death of a Salesman," for which Kennedy won a Tony Award, and "All My Sons."
Kennedy was said to have been discovered by James Cagney on the Los Angeles stage and his screen debut was playing Cagney's brother in City for Conquest (1940). He began first as a Warner Bros. contract player and soon moved into more substantive roles, including 1949's Champion for which he received his first Oscar nomination alongside Kirk Douglas.
Born Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn in Mexico to an Irish father and Mexican mother, Anthony Quinn went on to capitalize on his distinct heritage. Before his 2001 death from throat cancer, Quinn fathered 13 children and played a variety of character roles and ethnic types from gangsters to American Indians, from Arab sheiks to Greek peasants. After a screen debut in 1936, his career finally picked up after he appeared on Broadway as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.
At one point before his film career took off, Anthony Quinn won a scholarship to study alongside famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who eventually became a friend.
Quinn had the unique distinction over the course of his nearly 60 year acting career and some 100 films of appearing with a record number of Oscar® winning actors and actresses.
Quinn himself won two Academy Awards, for Best Supporting Actor in Viva Zapata! (1952) and Lust for Life (1956). Quinn was also memorable in several European productions, including his strongman Zampano character in Italian director Federico Fellini's Best Foreign Film Oscar®-winner La Strada (1954) and in one of his most famous roles, as a salt of the earth peasant in the film adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's novel Zorba the Greek (1964). Quinn's first directorial effort, The Buccaneer (1958) was an unfortunate and not to be repeated attempt at an alternative career.
Director: William Clemens
Producer: Edmund Grainger and Bryan Foy
Screenplay: M. Coates Webster from a story by Michael Fessier
Cinematography: Ted McCord
Production Design: Stanley Fleischer
Music: Mann Curtis, Sanford Green, Cliff Hess, Howard Jackson, William Lava
Cast: Arthur Kennedy (Johnny "The Brooklyn Kid" Rocket), Anthony Quinn (Harry Trego), Olympe Bradna (Angela Grinnelli), Virginia Field (Gloria Van Ness), Cliff Edwards (Sleepy).
by Felicia Feaster
According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Arthur Kennedy was cast in the lead after the part was turned down by Wayne Morris. Cliff Edward's character is called "Sleepy" in the film, although he is listed as "Pinky" in the onscreen credits. Some modern critics have called Kennedy's portrayal of "Johnny" one of the most realistic boxing performances on film. The plot of this film closely resembles that of the 1934 Warner Bros. film The Personality Kid, starring Pat O'Brien and Glenda Farrell and directed by Alan Crosland (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3429).
Released in United States 1941
Released in United States 1941