The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ring of Passion (1978)


  • Bernie Casey
  • Stephen Macht
  • Allen Garfield
"Ring of Passion" is a 1978 TV-movie about the Joe Louis/Max Schmeling fights. It stars Bernie Casey as Joe Louis, Stephen Macht as Schemling, Britt Ekland as Mrs. Schmeling, and Allen Garfield as Damon Runyon. The Louis/Schmeling fights, which took place during the time of Hitler, had political implications as well as implications in the international fight arena. Though Schmeling was used by the Third Reich as a symbol of Nazi power, he was not a Nazi. He was, however, a proud German. Louis was an ambitious young man who wasn't very practical with his money. Both were very good men. Both were dynamos in the ring. Their 1938 rematch was considered America vs. Germany.

Though not covered in the film, the two became very good friends, with Schmeling helping Louis financially throughout the years. Schmeling died at the age of 99 in 2005; Louis died in 1981. The Brown Bomber, as he was known, held the world heavyweight title longer than anyone.

"Ring of Passion" has the stamp of a '70s TV movie. The performances are good, but the dialogue is uninspired and the pace is slow. Also, it was strange to see Germans in Germany speaking English with a German accent, which of course, they don't do. However, Stephen Macht, whose last name is German, sports an excellent German accent.

One historically incorrect thing: Schmeling and a tennis friend, Rodney, visit together. Rodney is about to play Don Budge, the American tennis champion. When he loses, Rodney and his family disappear. "Rodney" is undoubtedly Roderick Menzel, who indeed lost to Don Budge in 1938; however, he died in 1987. Apparently, in this movie, with the exception of Louis and Schmeling, if the real-life people were still alive, their names were changed (including Mrs. Schmeling, Anny, called Amy in the film).