Joe Louis Story, The

2014. THE JOE LOUIS STORY (1953-USA). WITH Coley Wallace, Paul Stewart, James EDWARDS. Joe Louis, “The Brown Bomber,” was one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) heavyÂweight boxing champions of the 20th-century. His story is well served in this forceful, revealing and well-rounded biography. Louis’ life and times are related via flashbacks narrated by Tad McGeehan, a fictional sportswriter. As the scenario unfolds, you get to see the many sides that made up the man. He is at once a modest, kind-hearted fellow who manages not only to battle his way to the pinnacle of his sport but to have staying power and maintain his title longer than any other heavyÂweight champ. The film is at its best when it shows Louis as he learns the ropes of boxing and goes on to rise from amateur status to take part in a series of bouts opposite fighters from Primo Camera to Max Schmeling to Rocky Marciano. Footage from the actual fights is deftly integrated into the sceÂnario. Then there is the personal side to the man, which is most effectively expressed via his courtÂing and marrying his wife Marva and the problems he faces as he tries to combine his domestic and professional lives. While no great actor, Coley Wallace bears and striking resemblance to Louis and offers a more than respectable performance. James Edwards is excellent as “Chappie” Blackburn, the trainer with whom Louis shared a special and complex bond. Edwards is on of the more intriguing footnotes to screen history, in the late 1940s he was a handsome and talented young actor who might have gone on to become a major Hollywood star. At that time, African-Americans had for decades been stereotyped on screen as maids and pullman porters and were first being cast in more three-dimensional roles. There was room for only one black actor to emerge and grasp stardom, and that actor became Sidney Poitier. Edwards could only find supporting roles on screen, and eventualÂly faded to semi-oblivion. However, watch his performance here and you will see what a fine actor he was and what a great star he might have been. 88 minutes. Biodrama