Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Jimmy Smits.
Price of Glory (2000)
Directed by Carlos Ávila
Written by Phil Berger
Arturo Ortega (Smits) had a promising career as a boxer until an uneven match cut his time in the ring short. His manager had valued a pay day more than protecting his fighter, so when Arturo gets to live vicariously through his sons, he overcompensates, mixing the roles of manager and father for some traumatic and overstepping upbringings. Youngest, Johnny (Ernesto Hernández), becomes the favorite, showing the most promise out of nowhere. Sonny (Jon Seda) and Jimmy (Clifton Collins Jr.), who takes the insults hardest, are emotionally and physically abused into feeling inadequate. With this kind of powder keg someone has to get hurt and someone does. The exact events are out of Arturo’s hands but it’s a matter of which son more than when. To complete this boxing film formula, there’s a fight for redemption in the victim’s name, but without the direct correlation of Rocky vs Drago, it’s more of an add-on motivation
A mandatory training sequence isn’t as memorably scored as Rocky, nor is there a female, Adrian, counter figure. Arturo’s wife’s occasional notes, from her first suggestion that the boys consider college, are walked right over by her husband. Meanwhile for his nephew Arturo has no problem assigning him the role of becoming the first Ortega to go to college. During the stretch when none of his sons are talking to him (is it really a spoiler that this happens?) he frequently gardens with his nephew as a replacement child. Gardening touches back to control but also requires nurturing, an equilibrium Arturo’s unable to find with his family.
Ron Perlman is the proposed black hat manager who tries to scout all three sons, but denouncements of him seem overblown. Arturo makes business decisions for the best interests of the boys collectively but as they get older, and up for the same titles, that doesn’t work. Sonny needs to consider living costs but Arturo refuses to talk about it, stonewalling his boys into rash decisions. Arturo has already projected his career onto them but that isn’t enough. He wants them to play to be the best when other responsibilities require incomes and savings. He doesn’t adapt his strategies to their needs.
What really drives me bonkers about Arturo is how much everyone is supposed to be grateful when he acquiesces to any requests or compromises. He’s a stubborn man, but the compulsion by others to please him would take years of therapy to sort. His apologies are choppy and always go back to he raised his sons the way he knew and thought best. That’s a deflecting answer.
It’s not about Arturo getting emotional or saying the words “I’m sorry” but his actions never lose a finish of ‘my pushing toughened you up.’ Without going drastically out of character, there could’ve been more growth. Instead Arturo’s own issues take precedence without resolution. The film allows his ways to be set-in. There’s something in that.
Verdict: Not sure
It’s not that Price of Glory is a bad boxing movie but if you’re going to follow the formula, Creed is more exciting, but maybe that’s not what this film is supposed to be. Real life is more settled.
Mike Imboden takes over next week for a special Buried Credits: Halloween Edition, bound to incite a spooky good time.