Killer McCoy (1947)
Directed by Roy Rowland and written by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan Thomas Lennon George Bruce and George Oppenheimer (The War Against Mrs. Hadley (1942)) this boxing film is a remake of The Crowd Roars (1938).
Tommy McCoy (Mickey Rooney) is a hard working youngster and a bit of a hustler whose father (James Dunn) is a deadbeat “actor”. After losing his paper selling corner to a precinct leader’s kid (Douglas Croft) he runs into Father Ryan (James Bell) who says he’s got an opportunity for his dad. Tommy returns home and secretly puts the money he won playing pool in his mom’s (Gloria Holden) purse. Father Ryan arrives and hires Brian Tommy’s father to do a performance opening a boxing benefit for $10. Brian convinces his son to do a song and dance act with him. After they do their bit Tommy notices the precinct leader’s kid is the boxer who won the first exhibition fight. He approaches the middleweight champion Johnny Martin (Mickey Knox) who was a guest referee for the bout to challenge the winner. Happy (Sam Levene) is assigned as his trainer and Tommy ends up flooring the kid. His success causes Johnny to take Tommy under his wing and show him the ropes in the fight game.
Tommy spends the next 5 years on the road as a journeyman boxer with trainer Happy and his drunken blowhard father. During this time Johnny had lost his last fight and retired 3 years ago and Tommy’s mother died. He also hasn’t saved any money because his father drinks or gambles away his winnings. Now however he’s finally got a shot at legitimate contender. Walter Sande plays a beat reporter. Unfortunately the contender injures himself just before the fight and Tommy must fight Johnny who’s making a comeback for financial reasons; his investments went sour. Though Tommy doesn’t want to fight Johnny he really doesn’t have any choice because his father is $600 in debt to a gambler Jim Caighn (Brian Donlevy). So Tommy decides not to use his knockout punch his right hand and merely jabs at his friend throughout their bout. However Johnny is so out of shape that Tommy knocks him down and out anyway such that he is killed. A saddened Tommy gives his purse to Johnny’s widow (Eve March). Tommy finds out his father has sold his contract to the gambler Caighn who saw the fight and throws him out.
Now dubbed “Killer McCoy” by the media Tommy quits the fight game and wanders aimlessly for a couple of months before he decides to return to boxing through Jim Caighn. Caighn had learned about Tommy’s powerful right through his father and convinces Tommy to keep his knockout punch a secret so that he can get better odds for the fights. Caighn also “forces” Tommy to pretend his father is his manager (Tommy also chooses to use Happy as his trainer) because gambler Caighn can’t be openly involved with a boxer. However Caighn gives Tommy access to his home in the country in order to train. Watch fast for Shelley Winters as an autograph seeker at the estate. While in training Tommy meets Sheila Carrson (Ann Blyth) who claims he’s in her home and shows Tommy a picture of her father Jim Caighn she’s says is an investor. Tommy pretends not to know him and says that he’s rented the house while preparing for his next fight. Later even though Caighn is grateful to Tommy for not revealing his true profession to his daughter Caighn tells Tommy not to get interested in her. But after his next fight attended by Sheila who witnesses his taking a beating from his opponent (Bob Steele) before using his right Tommy begins dating her.
Of course Tommy wins three bouts in a row all by knockouts with “lucky” right handed punches while he secretly dates Sheila and Caighn makes good money on the fights. However a showdown with one of the men Caighn has scammed (Tom Tully) as well as one between Caighn and Tommy for his dating her daughter is as inevitable as Tommy’s drunken father being the one who “lets the cat out of the bag”. But the film does offer some redemption and as one would expect a happy ending too.