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Topical Budget 514-2: Exit the Best-Loved Boxer (1921)


Main image of Topical Budget 514-2: Exit the Best-Loved Boxer (1921)
Exit the Best-Loved Boxer the World Has Known
35mm, black and white, 81 feet
Production CompanyTopical Film Company

Portrait shots of boxers Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier on the occasion of the former's victory. The fight itself is not featured.

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Topical Budget rarely made any secret of its partiality, and the very title of this newsreel item covering the legendary Jack Dempsey-Georges Carpentier world heavyweight title fight of 2 July 1921 makes it clear that the company was firmly on the side of the European half of the draw, especially as they'd already championed Carpentier as a war hero in Georges Carpentier's Tribute (Topical Budget 485-2, 1920) a few months earlier. But, as the film's subtitle ruefully acknowledged, "Carpentier hopelessly beaten by Dempsey who remains Champion".

This was not just the biggest fight of Carpentier's career but also the biggest prizefight in boxing history up to that point. Advance interest was colossal - even the writer George Bernard Shaw was moved to describe Carpentier as "the greatest boxer in the world". However, the stronger, heavier Dempsey eventually prevailed, stopping Carpentier (whose thumb had already been broken) in the fourth round to retain the world heavyweight title.

Carpentier wasn't the only one "hopelessly beaten", as it's all too clear that Topical had also failed to secure the rights to show any footage of the actual fight. Instead, with commendable chutzpah, their coverage resorts to showing two earlier fights, one showing Carpentier knocking out "the Champion of Holland" (this was almost certainly the bout of 21 February 1920, in which Carpentier defeated Frank Grundhoven), followed by shots of another unidentified bout involving Dempsey, which, according to the intertitle, "shows the terrible strength of Dempsey which overwhelmed the methods of Carpentier".

After this defeat, Carpentier stuck to light-heavyweight bouts, though he would lose his existing titles the following year. Perhaps conscious of his waning powers, he finally retired from boxing in 1927, though by then he had already begun the second stage of his career as a vaudeville performer and occasional film actor - including the lead in the British film A Gypsy Cavalier (d. J. Stuart Blackton, 1922).

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
Complete film (1:21)
Topical Budget 151-2: Carpentier and Gunboat Smith (1914)
Topical Budget 485-2: Georges Carpentier's Tribute (1920)
Topical Budget 838-2: The Fighting Marine (1927)