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The Joe Louis Story (1953)

The life and career of Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, who held the title for 12 years--longer than any other boxer in history--and who had to not only battle opponents inside the ring and racism outside it.


Robert Gordon


Robert Sylvester (original screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Coley Wallace Coley Wallace ... Joe Louis
Paul Stewart ... Tad McGeehan
Hilda Simms ... Marva Louis
James Edwards ... 'Chappie' Blackburn
John Marley ... Mannie Seamon
Dots Johnson Dots Johnson ... Julian Black (as Dotts Johnson)
Evelyn Ellis Evelyn Ellis ... Mrs. Barrows
Carl 'Rocky' Latimer Carl 'Rocky' Latimer ... Arthur Pine
John Marriott ... Sam Langford
Ike Jones Ike Jones ... Johnny Kingston (as Isaac Jones)
P. Jay Sidney P. Jay Sidney ... John Roxborough
Royal Beal Royal Beal ... Mike Jacobs
Herbert Ratner Herbert Ratner ... Newspaper man (as Herb Ratner)
Ruby Goldstein Ruby Goldstein ... Ruby Goldstein
Norman Rose Norman Rose ... Lieutenant


The life and career of Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, who held the title for 12 years--longer than any other boxer in history--and who had to not only battle opponents inside the ring and racism outside it.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


POWERFUL... as his battering fists! THRILLING... as his fighting heart! GREAT... as his never-to-be-forgotten story!


Unrated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 September 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A História de Joe Louis See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Walter P. Chrysler Jr. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The fictional columnist Tad McGeehan appears to be based upon Jimmy Cannon (1909 - 1973), a sports columnist who famously quipped that Joe Louis was "a credit to his race - the human race." The quote itself is paraphrased in McGeehan's narration. See more »


When Joe is sending a telegram to Marva in Chicago, the address he gives the Western Union is 5220 Congress Street, but when she receives the telegram, the address reads 60 East 47th Street. See more »


[first lines]
Newspaper man: Tad, you missed the greatest fight of the year. This Marciano's another Dempsy. Louis is through for real now. He should've quit while he was ahead. What are you doing here? I thought you were goin' home. Well, Rocky almost knocked him out of the ring. The kid's got a punch like a ten-ton truck! He'll be the next champ for sure. Well, I'd better go write my story.
Tad McGeehan: Lou... I'll write the story.
Newspaper man: But you didn't see the fight.
Tad McGeehan: I'll write the real story.
See more »


Referenced in Autopsie d'un film érotique (1999) See more »


I'll Be Around
by Alec Wilder
Sung by Anita Ellis accompanied by Ellis Larkins Trio
See more »

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User Reviews

The Joe Louis Story provides only a glimpse of his life and career
13 February 2011 | by tavmSee all my reviews

Continuing to review African-Americans in film in chronological order for Black History Month, we're now at 1953 with The Joe Louis Story with Coley Wallace in the title role. This movie about the real-life champ from the '30s and '40s glosses over the racism that I'm sure he must have encountered being such a high profile sports figure during that time though at least one mention was made about it early in the picture. As for the actual footage of Louis and many of his opponents, they weren't very exciting to me possibly due to the lack of close-ups of them. Among the performances of many actors of color, Wallace-himself a fighter-did pretty good as Louis though he's not given much of a chance to express real emotion when things don't go so well. Best among them is James Edwards as first trainer Jack "Chappie" Blackburn whether disciplining Wallace or expressing concern to others about him. As the wife of Louis, Hilda Simms does what she can in that role whenever she expresses some frustration with how little time she has with the constantly busy champ. Other players of the same race worth noting include Evelyn Ellis as Joe's mother, John Marriot as Sam Langford, Isaac Jones as Johnny Kingston, P. Jay Sidney as handler John Roxborough, and Dots (Dotts) Johnson as Julian Black. Incidentally, this is the third time in several days I've seen this actor on film having just previously watched him in Reet, Petite, and Gone and No Way Out. So on that note, The Joe Louis Story is worth a look. P.S. Mr. Wallace was born in Jacksonville, FL, which is where I lived from 1987-2003.

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