16 January 2014 | MartinHafer
A bit dated but it still packs an emotional wallop.
"The Champ" is an old-time melodrama--the sort of picture they don't make any more but also the sort of thing folks loved back in the day. Compared to most films today, it's a bit heavy on the schmaltz and heavy-handed. However, despite its being a tad dated, the film STILL packs a nice emotional wallop and is well worth your time--even with its defects.
Wallace Beery plays 'Champ'--an aging, overweight and somewhat good-for-nothing guy. He drinks, he gambles and he breaks his promises. Yet, despite this, he has something good in his life--his young son, Dink (Jackie Cooper). Dink looks up to him adoringly and looks past his dad's many faults. However, the boy does deserve better--more stability, a better environment and a real home. Later in the film, the boy's mother (who left the boy and remarried when he was too young to remember) returns and wants to raise him herself. Despite her wealth, however, the boy is miserable and longs to be back with Champ. Champ's thinks his only hope is to change his ways, return to the ring and redeem himself in his son's eyes. But the battle sure will be uphill--and his opponent is the Mexican champion. What's to happen? See the film and find out for yourself.
It's funny that Wallace Beery won the Oscar for Best Actor. He was horribly out of shape and old--even for this part. They claimed he weighed 210 but looked to be at least 280. Plus, I really think he was repeatedly upstaged by Cooper! Still, I challenge you to watch the film's finale and not feel misty-eyed. Sure, it's saccharine--but very, very good saccharine! Well worth seeing.