The Champ

1931, Movie, NR, 85 mins

Review

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Beery won an Oscar for his role as a down-at-heels ex-heavyweight boxing champion who trains for a comeback in Tijuana in between boozing and gambling, egged on by his pipe dreams and those of his young son (Cooper). When he wins some money, the "Champ" buys the boy a racehorse, but promptly loses it in a crap game. The boy's mother (Rich) and her wealthy husband (Hamilton) appear at the track where the boxer works and convince him that the boy would be better off with them. He reluctantly agrees, but the boy later sneaks back to his father's side in time to witness the older man's bout against a much younger opponent.

A famous tearjerker of its day, THE CHAMP is unabashed in its assault upon the audience's emotions. Cynics are advised to keep their distance, but in defense of this extremely sentimental film one should note the genuine rapport between Beery and Cooper and the quiet skill of director Vidor. A film with a lot of heart, unafraid to bare its emotions, THE CHAMP still plays well, its slightly gritty look more effective than the softness Franco Zeffirelli brought to the lesser 1979 remake. leave a comment

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