If You Care…
Way before Robert Downey Jr. was born, and even thought of donning metal armor and downing massive quantities of pharmaceuticals with no apparent ill affect, there was another Iron Man in town.
In 1951, Universal decided to remake noir great W. R. Burnett’s novel, Iron Man. It had already been made as a Jean Harlow vehicle in 1931. But the boxing story didn’t feature blondes and boobs, so rewrites were necessary. In the end Harlow plays a scheming harlot with a skimpy pre-code wardrobe –what a switch! What a box office success!
In the 1951 version, Universal decided to stay closer to the boxing theme of the original novel. But, to be safe, all the male actors are primo beefcake material in satin shorts. Darren Star would have been proud of this line-up: Rock Hudson in his first role as Speed O’Keefe (estimated height in his 20’s, 6’5″); James Arness at 6’7″; and Jeff Chandler as Coke Mason at 6’4″. Quite a tall cast in the 1950’s. And, no they did not change the names from the novel — maybe they should have.
Some fun trivia. Jeff Chandler (b. Ira Grossel) is probably best known for playing Cochise in Broken Arrow for which he received an Oscar nomination. He would reprise the role of Cochise in two more movies in the 1950’s. For us raised in the 1960’s, however, he will always be remembered as the model for Race Bannon in Johnny Quest.
Sadly, Jeff Chandler passed away at the age of 42 after a botched operation for a herniated disc.
Near Mint.1951 Original Vintage Half Sheet. Iron Man. 22″ x 28″ Bright colors. No pinholes. Not folded. No tears.