Day of the Fight (Stanley Kubrick, 1951, USA)

Day of the Fight is a 1951 short documentary by Stanley Kubrick - the first of the short documentaries that Kubrick directed at the beginning of his career. The film centers on the fighter Walter Cartier. The narration begins, by describing the waiting before the fight. "It's a long way until night..." We are introduced to Walter's twin brother Vincent, verite style showing them walking to mass through the streets of New York. Walter lives in a three-bedroom apartment with his aunt and dog. Kubrick is interested in the pre-fight ritual, including the examination of the pre-fight doctor. 

Kubrick's photography is moody, characterized by an emphasis on light and shadow. He was a journalist photographer before embarking on a film career, and all of the shots in this documentary short show the clear influence of photography. We arrive at the last two hours before the fight, in the dressing room, which Kubrick captures in close-ups to enhance the tension. Gerald Fried's score, with its marching-style drumbeat, features prominently in the build-up to the fight. This was Fried's first film project, and he would go on to collaborate with Kubrick on the directors' first few films, before going on to have a successful career in television.


Kubrick captures the actual fight itself from the ringside. Rather than capturing the full extent of the action, his camera zooms in on the fighters themselves, sometimes obscuring the entirety of the image. There are some interesting shots, in one case he seems to be shooting from an angle below the two fighters. Cartier wins the fight - "he's just moved up one more place in a line that may end in a championship." Kubrick's original buyer for this film backed out, and he ended up selling it to RKO at a loss of $100. 


6/10

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