“When the Smoke Clears” Film Documentary on the Life of Smokin’ Joe Frazier Available Here and on Hulu

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I got this from Shadow and Act.  All of this was completed by November, but Smokin’ Joe died before the documentary was set to debut at a film festival.

Seeing brother man walking with a stick just blows my mind, because I remember how vital and vigorous he was in his prime.  And how his prowess got short-changed and even demeaned by a race man like Muhammad Ali.

The N.Y. Daily News had this to say when the film debuted.

Frazier and his son, Marvis, were expected to lend their star power and commentary to the program’s question-and-answer session that followed the film. Instead, what [director Mike] Todd got was further proof that Frazier’s story continues to resonate with the public. A line snaked down the block as people waited to get in, and the show was sold out. Demand was so strong that organizers decided to extend the film’s run with Thursday showings at 1 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. at the IFC Center.

“The outpouring of support and the coverage has been tremendous,” Todd said. “It just shows that people still remember Joe for his contributions. His story is still familiar to a lot of people. It’s just a shame that he’s not here to see it. It’s just surreal.”

Frazier’s story is familiar and well-documented. His fights and rivalry with Muhammad Ali transcended the sport and made him a boxing legend. Despite his fame, he still went through tough times later in life, dealing with high blood pressure, diabetes and financial pressures. Todd’s soulful film — which details Frazier’s upbringing in South Carolina, features recent footage of him in the gym hitting the heavy bag and is narrated by Marvis — was especially touching and acted as a sort of eulogy. Frazier’s business adviser, Leslie Wolff, was in the film and in the audience. And the crowd responded with hearty applause when it was over.

Frazier’s struggles made him human, a number of fans on line outside the theater said before the screening, a fact that continues to endear him to the public.

“I think that people kind of identify with Joe,” said Tara Maldonado, on line before the film. “He was overshadowed by Ali, but it’s nice to see him get his due with a film like this.”

 Maybe this will influence some of yall to buy this flick.  The story of boxing in the Sixties and Seventies—before the rot set in, in my humble opinion—is not just about Ali.  It’s about regular guys like Frazier and George Foreman, and cautionary tales about guys like  Sonny Liston, too. 

 What is my interest in boxing?   My mother was an only child, and one way in which she could connect with her dad was to learn all she could from him about boxing.  When I was growing up in New Orleans in my grandparents’ house,  the radio and early TV shows were full of boxing dates in the afternoons and evenings, otherwise known as “the fights.”  Remember the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports?  That was guy time in the Fifties.  You could even imagine the smells of  Old Spice, Brylcreem (one dab will do ya) and the Rise and the Burma Shave in the commercials wafting through the sets in prime time.   My grandmother and mother and I did not necessarily decamp for our  bedrooms or the kitchen or the back room (for me) when the fights were on. 

However, as a little girl, I knew that when men socked each other, it was bound to hurt.  And even from a black and white set, I saw the blood and the marks on the men’s faces and the sweat.  It was scary.   When I saw Scorcese’s Raging Bull, for example, I was glad that it was shot in glorious black and white, because it minimized what color would have highlighted.  I told friends that if it hadn’t been in black and white, I would have had headed for the theatre toilets.  I didn’t need to see that; I wanted to appreciate what Scorcese was doing.  I think that when I understood more as I grew, I fastened on the men’s personal stories and their historical and cultural impact more than just the fights themselves.  And then you can throw in a couple of  The Three Stooges’ early shorts and the comedy, The Great White Hype, for a little flavor.

That’s why and how I got to follow boxing.  Sorta half study and half nostalgia.  Have I ever been at a boxing event?  No.  Do I enjoy boxing?  Not really.  People get hurt.  Men and women.  There is a price to be paid for all that punishment to one’s body.  It’s not exactly for the squeamish, the womanists, or for the Buddhists.

But I liked that Joe Frazier was more than a mere challenger in the fights.  And of course, there were some things that he did or was alleged to have done that I did not admire.  However, he was a man with a life, who lived it undefeated, and who had few if  any apologies for it at the end.  And I am glad that he was here to remind us to live the same way.

~ by blksista on February 21, 2012.

One Response to ““When the Smoke Clears” Film Documentary on the Life of Smokin’ Joe Frazier Available Here and on Hulu”

  1. I really enjoyed that about Joe Frazier. It makes you think about how far we have come as a black race. Thank you!


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