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The Champ (1931)

1931

NR CC
4.7 out of 5 stars (46) IMDb 7.3/10

This original father-son tale remains one of the all-time great tearjerkers. Wallace Beery plays the washed-up prizefightermaking a ring comeback to provide for his son.

Starring:
Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper
Runtime:
1 hour, 26 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Sports, Drama
Director King Vidor
Starring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper
Supporting actors Irene Rich, Roscoe Ates, Edward Brophy, Hale Hamilton, Jesse Scott, Marcia Mae Jones, Dannie Mac Grant, Frank Hagney, Dell Henderson, Tom McGuire, Bob Perry, Lee Phelps, Andy Shuford, Dan Tobey
Studio Warner Bros.
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 17, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Although this flick is essentially sheer hokum, THE CHAMP was made with such superb professionalism in all departments that it achieved record business in depression - stricken 1931; it also gave Wallace Beery and screenwriter Frances Marion Academy Awards. It was M-G-M's biggest smash hit of the year. This third ideal role Marion wrote for Beery was that of a broken-down boxer who made a comeback for the sake of his idolising son, Jackie Cooper. The nine-year-old graduate from OUR GANG got even praise from the critics - and audible sobbing from audiences! The great director, King Vidor, extracted genuine pathos from both stars and there is also good work from the likes of Roscoe Ates, Irene Rich and Hale Hamilton.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful drama, social, human and familial. As all good classics there's more to the story than just surface plot. You can see it from multiple perspectives, among them the social one is always very present in Vidor's films.

But first of all this is a great, great movie. One of those that will make you cry in a couple of scenes at least; if you don't, you'd better check your pulse.

Now, here are the subterraneous plots that I see:

1) The familial, the relation between a divorced father and his little son, whom he loves immensely and by whom he is likewise corresponded. This, actually, is not a plot but a naturalistic depiction of this relationship thru story details and characterization.

2) The social. The incompatibility between high-class minded people and simple minded/humble people.

3) The individual relationships between the three main characters or roles: the uneducated and loving father, the apparently educated and classy mother and the innocent child. This triangle gives a lot of food for thought about the mysteries of the human soul. And every viewer will have his own take on this side of the story.

I hope we'll be able to see soon on dvd more of Vidor's great classics, like "The Crowd", "The Fountainhead", "Our Daily Bread", or the great "The Big Parade".

One more thing: The quality of the dvd is exeptional. It doesn't seem like you are watching an old movie at all.
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I enjoy watching The Champ movie because it is well acted in both the father and son roles. Wallace Beery gives a convincing performance as a despairing father who was driven to drinking and gambling but cared much for his son. He was aware that he had become a "has been" in the sport of boxing and was desperate to find a way to support himself and his child. Though Andy Purcell (Beery) had allowed these vices into his life, his love and sensitivity toward his son came through brilliantly in the generosity he showed to keep the boy happy.

Purcell's son Dink, played by Jackie Cooper, was completely devoted to his father. Dink was being raised in a less-than-desirable environment and had adopted some crude ways but, in spite of everything, was charming, friendly, and caring to his father and to friends. Though Andy disappointed him on a few occasions in the movie, Dink's loyalty and love for him came shining through to the very end when the boy witnessed the death of his father.

The story, acted out, brings tears, sentiment, and evokes tender feelings for both Andy who wanted so much to make his son happy and for Dink who remained faithful to his father through it all. The honesty in Dink's character provides a moral lesson and example for children today to stay faithful and to love and honor their parents, no matter what may happen.
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It would be easy to dismiss "The Champ" as merely a manipulative tear-jerker. Possibly, but if you're going to be manipulated at least have it done by the best. There is nothing slick here. Director King Vidor vividly captures the desolate seediness of Depression-era Tijuana. The film's climactic fight scene is very realistic. Wallace Beery won the Oscar for his role as the Champ but he could very well have shared it with young Jackie Cooper(not even nominated) as his wise beyond his years son,Deke. The chemistry is dynamic between the lovably grizzled Beery and the heart-rending Cooper. The formula here is timeless so the story doesn't date in the least. You could remake it today and I have no doubt it would still work. Which leads me to the 1979 remake with Jon Voight and Ricky Schroder. Despite the generally negative buzz that surrounded it at the time it's not that bad.
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Wallace Berry was an unlikely candidate for an Oscar. He had been in film since the teens. He had been mostly a character actor during the silent period. However, he had an ability to project pathos and gain sympathy. Jackie Cooper was pretty good at the pathetic also. With Cooper as his co-star and father-son affection the center of the story, the tears of the audience flow readily. Berry continued his career as an (unlikely) film star until about 1950, but he never had another Oscar performance.
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Format: DVD
I was very familar with the reputation of the movie "The Champ" but never saw it until last night. I was prepared for a film heavy on sentimentality, a fair amount of action (in the ring), and a cute child actor. I got all of that but in a better package than I had expected. Although I was hesitant to give the movie a 5 Star rating, I did so on the exceptional acting from the two stars.

I have seen a number of other films with Wallace Beery and his character is generally the same in every movie; a sort of Victor McLaughlin with a lower voice. He's quite the likable character but what impressed me the most was the many times he spoke his lines as though they were an "in-character" ad lib offering. As I noticed those scenes, I saw others in which he seemed to speak as though from a script. However, his "aw shucks" style never varied and the way the words flowed seemingly spontaneously is probably the reason he won the Best Actor Oscar for "The Champ".

Beery had real competition for that award from young Jackie Coogan. I was equally impressed with his acting and I felt that there were parts of the movie that the director may have turned him loose to do his own ad-libbing. His emotions were very effective and never overdone, even at the end. The scene where he discovers that the drunk being brought to jail in the paddy wagon is actually his father is outstanding. There were many other noteworthy scenes of his as well. The supporting cast is rather standard fare and serves only to fill in the roles necessary for Beery and Coogan to strut their stuff.

The plot is rather predictable and you could sense the ending almost from the beginning. Much of the plot is there to enhance our appreciation of this father/son relationship.
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