How I Learned to Love Jack Johnson

By Robert Ecksel on May 31, 2018
How I Learned to Love Jack Johnson
It may take time, pardon or no pardon, to get accustomed to a sanitized Jack Johnson.

The timing of the launch, coming as it does hot on the heels of a posthumous presidential pardon, smacks of opportunism… 

Stallone’s production company, Balboa Productions, will be the brains behind the project. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures will provide the brawn…
In the right hands a Johnson biopic might be worth remembering. In the wrong hands it will be a cliché.

The posthumous pardon of Jack Johnson was long overdue. Innocent of some charges and guilty of others, Johnson was railroaded in this instance and did time for a crime designated for people like him. He had it coming, in a manner of speaking, the pardon that is, and President Trump, at the urging of his pal Sylvester Stallone (aka Rocky), turned the tables on his detractors and gave the long-dead Johnson his freedom at last.

Even the most heartless cynics (i.e., crestfallen idealists) were gratified, if only for a moment, to see a legal wrong righted. But it may take some time, pardon or no pardon, to get accustomed to a sanitized Jack Johnson.

Stallone, a man who embodies boxing in the minds of many, is the ghost in the machine. He is a big-picture guy, forward-thinking to some, irredeemably lowbrow to others, and he has seized the moment, waiting less than a week after the Oval Office ceremony to announce that a Jack Johnson biopic with his imprimatur is in the works.

Stallone’s production company, Balboa Productions, will be the brains behind the project. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures will provide the brawn.

With the “Rocky” franchise alive and well and as iconic as ever, Stallone is on a roll. “Creed,” his most recent “Rocky” film, was a smash. “Creed II,” the inevitable sequel, will hit movie theaters in November.

In the right hands a Johnson biopic might be worth remembering. In the wrong hands it will be a cliché. But the timing of the launch, coming as it does hot on the heels of a posthumous presidential pardon, smacks of opportunism.  That of course is not a crime. The crime will be if Stallone’s film fails to do Jack Johnson justice.

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  1. Bruce Kielty 01:53pm, 06/26/2018

    In the entertainment industry, the main objective is to put out a product that will show a profit for investors.  Opportunism should be a given.  I mean, let’s face it, it makes more sense to make a film about a Jack Johnson than say, a Walter Mondale…

  2. Ollie Downtown Brown 06:36am, 06/02/2018

    Will Jack Johnson have to chase a chicken to get some speed in those legs for his upcoming bout with Tommy Burns? Mickey said that was how fighters trained in the old days.

  3. Ollie Downtown Brown 06:10am, 06/01/2018

    Okay so Jack Johnson served ONE YEAR AND ONE DAY in prison. BIG DEAL. He beat a woman bad enough to send her to the hospital as well so lets not paint this guy as a saint. For beating a woman that bad he should have served more than a year.  As for him being a pimp, I don’t know about that, but it is awful strange that more than one of the women he had affairs with were known prostitutes. With the recent release of the JFK files, a lot of dirt was uncovered on MLK as well, but due to the religion of political correctness, it will never tarnish the image of the civil rights leader. Of course this information was revealed in the book, ” And The Walls Came Tumbling Down,” by a close associate of King, Ralph Abernathy years ago. Hopefully this movie will not hide the truth about the prostitutes, or Johnson’s penchant for beating women and attempt to paint him as some sort of martyr or patron saint. At least with “Raging Bull,” LaMotta allowed us to take a peek at what a scum bag he was back in the day, and even admitted that he was even worse than what the movie portrayed him to be.

  4. Ollie Downtown Brown 05:22pm, 05/31/2018

    There is going to be a “Creed II?”  That is pathetic enough and now Stallone is trying to cash in on this recent pardon of Jack Johnson as well?  Will people even give a damn about watching a movie about Jack Johnson whenever this film hits theaters, or will the film even be worthy enough to make it to theaters? My guess is that if this movie is made, it will bomb. Lets just hope it is better than, “The Great White Hope,” the 1970 film based on Jack Johnson’s life that starred, James Earl Jones as Jack Johnson and included the 6’9” real life boxer, Jim Beattie, playing the part of Jess Willard. The fight scene featuring Beattie playing Willard, and Jones as Jack Johnson was ridiculous to say the least.

  5. Kid Blast 05:20pm, 05/31/2018

    How can you do someone who was an abuser, pimp, showed no remorse justice?  I just don’t get it and I totally agree, it’s pure opportunism.
    SAD

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