American Experience (1988– )
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The Fight 

Documentary on the boxing match between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling, which captured the world's attention on June 22, 1938.


Barak Goodman


Barak Goodman, David Margolick (book)
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Episode credited cast:
Courtney B. Vance ... Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Steve Acunto Steve Acunto ... Himself - Boxing Trainer
Gus Adams Gus Adams ... Himself - Louis' Friend
Muhammad Ali ... Himself (archive footage)
Alverta Barksdale Alverta Barksdale ... Herself - Dancer
David Bathrick David Bathrick ... Himself - Professor of German Studies, Cornell University
Jimmy Braddock Jimmy Braddock ... Himself (archive footage)
Jim Clark Jim Clark ... Himself - Boxing Fan
Richard Ben Cramer ... Additional voice (voice)
Jack Dempsey ... Himself (archive footage)
Marlene Dietrich ... Herself (archive footage)
Ralph Edwards ... Himself (archive footage)
Truman Gibson Truman Gibson ... Himself - Joe Louis' Attorney
Joseph Goebbels ... Himself (archive footage) (as Josef Goebbels)
Herb Goldman Herb Goldman ... Himself - Boxing Historian


Documentary on the boxing match between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling, which captured the world's attention on June 22, 1938.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Official Sites:

PBS [United States]


UK | France | West Germany | USA


English | German

Release Date:

24 January 2005 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Black and White (archive footage)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Fight of the Century
31 August 2004 | by paul2001sw-1See all my reviews

The fights between boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmelling in the 1930s were strangely emblematic. In some ways, each man embodied a certain idealisation of his own country (democratic America and Nazi Germany); on the other, Loius himself was a victim of America's own racial divide. Barak Goodman's documentary is slightly over-reverential, at times conferring on Louis (the man) the full weight of what he happened to signify to black America (when one might suggest he was simply a man who could box; whose cultural impact on his country was almost a chance consequence of his awesome sporting prowess). But it's still a fascinating story, and there are also strange parallels between the careers of the two men (New York City didn't want black fighters, but (to some extent) it didn't want European ones either). Schmelling, who still lives but who does not take part in this film, is a more ambiguous figure, a man who compromised with Nazism; but 'The Fight' never reduces him to the level of comic book villain, and as a boxer, he did have one great victory before finally falling to his brilliant foe. The fact that the fights themselves were filmed, and can thus be re-broadcast here, adds more to this gripping documentary.

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