Boxing Matches, Films, and the Pantages

This poster from beneath the Blue Cabin floorboards advertises a historical match between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey, when Tunney took the heavyweight title. 

Listen with volume on! Audio from: Jacobsen, Arnold, Jack Dempsey, James J Corbett, and Gene Tunney. Radio broadcast [Unknown] Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress

The film advertised on the poster contains one of the most famous moments in boxing history, known as "the Long Count Fight" between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney in Chicago. In the video below, during Round 7 (beginning at 3:10) Tunney remains on the canvas for an extended count, due to the ref not beginning the official count until Dempsey has retreated to a neutral corner of the ring. The neutral corner rule was relatively new to the boxing championship rules, but was agreed upon by all fighters prior to the fight. Dempsey seems to require a few reminders from the ref to retreat. All in all one of the most interesting moments in boxing at the time! 

Visit THE FIGHT FILM COLLECTOR blog for rare boxing films exclusively from a private 16mm collection.

It is difficult to determine if the film shown above was the same footage that would have been shown at the Pantages in 1927, as that fight at the Soldiers' Field in Chicago was recorded by many commercial film crews. Also difficult to determine is which Pantages Theatre might have shown the film, although evidence points to the second Pantages in Vancouver, built at 20 West Hastings from 1914-18. It later became the Majestic theatre, then the Odeon. 

The second Pantages, at 20 West Hastings. Courtesy City Vancouver Archives.

Unfortunately, this building was demolished in 1967 and become a parking lot. 

A photo of the demolition of the Pantages Theatre - with two workers taking a break on the middle ledge. Photo credit: Vancouver Public Library Archives. 

The original Pantages was a theatre built specifically for Vaudeville shows, and showed many more live shows than screened films. It was built in 1907 and stood at 152 East Hastings St. There was a valiant fight by citizens of Vancouver to save the beautiful old red-brick building from demolition, but in 2011 it was demolished after the roof collapsed. A small reminder to preserve the heritage around us whenever possible, before it becomes too late.