by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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“One man’s second chance. One boy’s hope for any chance.”
The Nail is a story of redemption and friendship for a boxer who got caught up in an accident and went to jail for eight years. Upon his release from jail, Joey “The Nail” Nardone, played by Tony Luke, Jr., finds he’s out of shape and yearning for some feeling of worth and measure in a world that he says he no longer knows.
After Joey returns to his old Philadelphia neighborhood and boxing ring, he must do much soul searching in order to survive in the streets. Joey finds that he’s lost and can’t help but wonder about the young girl who died, as a result of what I believe was an automobile accident.
The apartment building where Joey lives is also home to a young boy named Jesus, played by Paul Orrantia, who lives with his mother and abusive father. Jesus catches hell at home, at the hands of his father, and also from the other boys at school who wait regularly after school to jump on him. Afterward, Joey takes a liking to Jesus and begins to teach him how to box, so that he can protect himself. Jesus’ mother is very protective of her son, because she doesn’t want his father to learn that he’s been keeping company with Joey. But Jesus and Joey become friends, with Joey teaching him to box, when he returns from his gig at the old gym where he once trained.
He’s welcomed at the gym by most of the guys; many of them are amazed that they are really breathing the same air as Joey, who was once a prime fighter in his heyday.
The end brings with it sad news for both Joey and the boy’s father, but in a strange way it brings hope to Jesus, who’s about the same age Joey was when he started boxing.
The film was shot on location in Philadelphia, was directed and produced by James Quattrochi and written by Luke.
The Nail is a great movie about a man who might be considered a loser by many, but for one young boy (Jesus) he’s a winner all the way.
The Nail is available on DVD from MTI Home Video, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a “leading independent home entertainment studio.”
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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