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  • The central relationship of the adoring street-wise kid (Cooper) and his devoted, boozing, gambling ex-champ Dad (Beery) is astonishing. We are observing behavior here, not acting. Cooper gives the best child performance I've ever seen and Beery is utterly human, flawed and unforgettable.

    This film is full of terrific moments - comedy and heartbreak. The friendship between Cooper and his black pal is beautifully color-blind. When Cooper states, "He's colored," it's with a child's open, untainted honesty. I find King Vidor's films to always resonate with humanity and compassion. He was one of our greatest filmmakers as Frances Marion was one of our greatest screenwriters.
  • Probably the greatest disconnect among film personalities in history is that of Wallace Beery. On the screen he played these lovable oaf types, even when he was a bad guy. Off the screen he was a violent man, given to fits of temper and I can't recall anyone having a good word to say about him. Possibly for that reason Beery could lay claim to the fact he was the greatest actor in films. The crowning achievement of his career was his Oscar winning performance in The Champ.

    Of course Beery could not have done it without little Jackie Cooper as well. It's their scenes together that make the film as memorable as it is. Instead of splitting the Academy Award with Fredric March who was also awarded The Best Actor for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, possibly Beery should have given half of his half to Cooper.

    Beery is actually a former champ in this film. He's an over the hill, alcoholic pug who lives a hand to mouth existence with his young son Cooper. He split from his wife Irene Rich years ago, taking Cooper and she'd like to get him back. She's pretty well fixed now with a new and rich husband and a daughter by that marriage.

    The fly in the ointment is that Cooper is really attached to his father and blind to the faults he has. And Beery really does love his son, the only really happy part about his life. He's probably way too old to be seriously in the fight game, but he needs the dough for his kid.

    The Champ is guaranteed four handkerchief film even now almost eighty years after its debut. A remake was done in 1979 with Jon Voight and Rick Schroder in the main two roles, but it wasn't a patch on this one.
  • dbdumonteil2 November 2009
    I had seen the 1979 remake starring Jon Voigt and Faye Dunaway (the female part was much more important ) and I was not that impressed.Jon Voigt was too good-looking and too handsome to portray the champ successfully.The original really blew my mind:the Wallace Beery /Jackie Cooper team was a winning one and it's one of the best pairings man/boy in the history of cinema ,with echoes of Charlie Chaplin's "the kid" .Although the movie takes place in the prizefighters milieu,the plot is pure melodrama ,mainly aimed at the female audience .The reactionary side of the melodrama -the posh lady horrified at the people around her boy, a "normal" wealthy family is the safe way to happiness,etc- is present but emotion survives the tear-jerker side .And I dare you not to shed a tear when the boy screams "I want the champ!".
  • Former heavyweight champ Andy Purcell goes down to Tijuana in hopes of getting a fight. Andy's son, Dink, watches his father train, but Andy gives into his vices of gin and gambling, which constantly gets him in trouble. Andy wins Dink a race horse, which is entered in a race, where Andy meets his ex-wife Linda (with her current husband Tony) at the track and wants to be reunited with her son (Dink) and give him a better life outside of the one Andy gives him. Andy gets arrested and thrown in jail, where he decides that Dink would be best living with his mother, which devastates Dink (who idolizes his father). Andy is released from jail (thanks to Tony & Linda)and gets a bout with the Mexican heavyweight champ, where Dink runs back to his father to watch him hopefully win the fight, even though he is out of shape and not at the level of his opponent. The film is a toughing piece of cinematic brilliance, despite the static camera-work (very uncharacteristic of King Vidor). Beery and Cooper work so well together and their performances are what makes this film a classic. The script does not lose anything in the 70 plus years since its release. If the ending doesn't make you shed tears, you have to be a robot. Rating, 8.
  • Piafredux2 March 2006
    'The Champ' seems to have been a blueprint film for all the others of the tough-tender school that followed it, and - owing entirely to Jackie Cooper's playing perfectly off of Wallace Beery's has-been, alcoholic pug - it's perfectly charming.

    Yes, the fight scene is rather hokey: had they tried to use Wallace Beery's telegraphed-the-day-before roundhouse punches, even the toe-to-toe sluggers of 'The Champ's bygone day wouldn't have survived one round in the ring. But the film isn't about the fight scene, it's about the love of father for son and son for father - and to this day 'The Champ's' story artfully delivers its soft knock-out blow with tender sucker punches and love-taps to the heart.

    Compared with today's fare 'The Champ's' pacing is slow but the time taken works nicely, especially in the one-on-one scenes captivatingly played by Cooper and Beery.

    There's plenty of archetypal King Vidor composition-in-frame that's still imitated today, and in many instances the lighting is exemplary of the gorgeous black & white textural artistry of Hollywood's Golden Age. Lovers of classic B&W work might want to grab more than a few frames from the DVD.

    Beery's work is quite good here, but Jackie Cooper's remarkable, potent chops steal the show - and your heart; though 'The Champ' has a good many fine, classical attributes there's none better in it than Cooper's unforgettable performance.
  • In the worst years of the depression, the most popular stars were not the most glamorous or attractive. As revealed in the highly respected Quigley poll (which surveyed movie theatre owners on who their audiences were most likely to come and see), the biggest draws in the early 30s were friendly, earthy types whom audiences could relate to at a time of poverty and desperation. These included genial comic Will Rogers, middle-aged frump Marie Dressler, and burly pug-face Wallace Beery, who played his greatest role in 1931 feature The Champ.

    Beery's physique meant he was often cast as villainous thugs, but he had demonstrated enough acting prowess to get a decent number of "gentle giant" lead roles. In The Champ he gets to combine the two, one minute the swaggering pugilist, the next a devoted father. He gives a performance full of tiny gestures, expertly dancing from one expression to another. When he gets to show his character's emotional vulnerability, the scene is doubly poignant coming after the macho confidence he normally displays. The knowledge that off the set Beery was reputedly a wife-beating brute who bullied everyone around him perhaps spoils the effect slightly, but even with this in mind his performance is captivating, believable and utterly flawless.

    Supporting Beery behind the camera is a director who was both a poet and a craftsman of the cinema – King Vidor. Vidor excelled at coaxing naturalism from his players at a time when theatrical hamming was the par. His camera focuses on Beery for long takes, allowing the actor to potter about doing his little bits of business and developing the character. Vidor also gives the picture bite with some neat tracking shots. These are usually in the field of depth, so in other words we are either backing away from the actors or following them. The former kind, with the players advancing on the camera as in the shot that opens the picture, gives the characters presence and show them as a force to be reckoned with. The latter kind, where the camera follows the character, physically pulls us into their world. Vidor used these kinds of shot a lot, and they are a neat way of making the audience feel involved without drawing too much attention to the artificiality of the form.

    It may come as a surprise that this story of male bonding was written by a woman, Frances Marion. But like Beery, Marion defied expectations simply by being very good at what she did. Her plot for The Champ earned her the second of her two Oscars. It does not perhaps describe the most realistic of situations, but the emotional content is very sincere, and its depiction of determination and human feeling during hard times must have struck a chord with audiences of the day. The dialogue, which is credited to three separate people, is appropriately punchy with lines that sound believable yet are memorable and evocative.

    Aside from Beery, the rest of the cast are a good bunch. Of all the lead players, Irene Rich is the only one who doesn't stand out, and she seems simply there to fill the wealthy, motherly type. But having said that she is not at all bad and her presence doesn't harm the picture. The Champ also sees Roscoe Ates in one of his largest roles, and for once getting to appear as a normal person rather than the stuttering fool he was usually required to play. Finally there is Jackie Cooper, one of the greatest child stars of his or indeed any era. While it seems clear that fame has gone to the youngster's head (he's not quite as good as he thinks he is), he is certainly up to the task of carrying his end of the picture. He plays a genuine child when with Beery, but when he is around others he deepens his voice and adopts mannerisms as if trying to be an adult. It's a touching and appropriate performance and very suited to the tone of the picture. And this was perhaps also the only time in which a child actor like Cooper could become a personality in his own right. As the popularity of Beery, Dressler et al proves, this was the age of the unconventional superstar.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    Hard to believe it's as old as 1931, in a lot of ways. As far as production, it's about what you'd see, today, except it's in black and white. And it could be a movie, today - save that it would highlight the bums that get thrown up against title holders - unlike Stallone's Rocky, who was in pretty good fighting shape and had a few moves. Beery seems out of his element as a fighter - looking at best like a beery (no pun intended) brawler, though his character plays the ex-heavyweight champ. But then, the athleticism of the era wasn't what it is today. On the other hand, there were some great fighters in the 20s and 30s, and Beery's shape and skill is out of their class, entirely. Anyhow - small gripe, perhaps. One might excuse Beery, in the championship fight, just as the bum thrown in to boost the Mexican champ's rating - as is done, today. I don't see it necessarily played up that way in the film. But I might have missed something.

    Some things also bring home the era of this film. For ex., the effort, it seems, to mimic the newsreel footage from the theaters of the day, by slowing down the film rate, thus artificially speeding up the action. We see this sort of 'newsreel' effect at both the horse race and the concluding championship fight. There's also an interesting 2 or 3 second montage during the fight which strikes me as 60s style film-making, or later. But it's just 2 or 3 seconds. Generally - it's a good looking film. It plays well, even today.

    The subplot with the black boy, who hangs about with the young Purcell, and the other kids - an inspiration (perhaps?) for the 'our gang' crew that followed first in theatrical shorts a few years later? - is clearly intended to encourage racial tolerance, and repel a bigotry which was openly and boldly part of the fabric of world culture in the 1930s and before. The little black boy doesn't roll his eyes, or do goofy things, or talk in a slow drawl, or any of the rest. He just acts normally. When 'Dinkus' Purcell (the Jackie Cooper character) unknowingly runs into his divorced Mom, whom his Dad never much mentioned and never identified for the kid, she asks - who's your friend? 'Dink' replies, and then comments - "He's colored." And Mom/strange lady replies - "And what a pretty color." Again, just clearly something important to the story, and very out of touch, and actively opposed to the ethic of the time.

    As for the rest of the story, it's basically a child custody story, about the love and affection of the child in question, with the death of one of the disputants the resolution and which enables the emotional concluding scene where 'Dink', who had kept an arm's length from Mom (once she told him who she was) in favor of his Dad (whom he knew and loved), breaks down at the sudden loss of his father, lying dead on the training table, and for the first time tearfully cries out, "Mother," and then rushes to her. She carries him out through a gauntlet of reporters and onlookers - bringing down the curtain. The End.

    There's not much to quarrel with in the story. It is a coincidence that the ex and her new husband run into The Champ, Andy, at the south of the border race track. But coincidence can happen, and does. It is somewhat difficult to believe that an out of shape, fairly weak, and uncoordinated brawler, as Beery is in the ring, could land the lucky punch against a fighter in trim shape, enough to take him out for the full count. But, that's the story, that's Hollywood, that's Rocky, and - what the hey.

    It might have been interesting to see brother and sister interact a little more. Cooper's oddly adult inflections and mannerisms seem to play well against the spoiled but good natured little girl - just happy to have a 'new' brother. It might have been interesting to see the game in which Andy wins so much, and the horse he eventually fights to get back. Might have been interesting to see Andy and Dink out and about, a little more, rather than just 'in training' or in the flat. And so on, so forth.

    It's clear why Beery got the nod for the award. He seems to have had a sort of Long John Silver, sort of patronizing, slow-talking 'rap'. in various films. Here, save for a few instances, he plays it pretty low key. He seems just like a regular guy in the Mexican prison, thinking over his part in the custody dispute, and thinking he's just not the father for Dink. And when Dink comes to the cell, and Andy tells him to 'shove off', basically, it's believable, with just the right tone, delay, cliched delivery, and choked back tears. When he takes the money from Linda's rich hubby, he comments on being down on his luck, and almost lapses into Long John - but just not quite. And surely he spoke for a fair number in the audience in the early first years of The Great Depression.

    It's a good film. The emotional manipulation is right up on the surface, and may be a bit too trite and obvious; particularly as the extraneous 'background' scenes I might like to see, as suggested above, just weren't there. The film was 'tight' and 'stayed on message' in that way. And it feels right, almost. It has its flaws, but remains a good film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When I first saw this movie it was my first look at either Wallace Beery or Jackie Cooper. I found both of them very interesting to watch. I also found out why Bob Hope and Jack Benny used to make a lot of sarcastic lines about "being about as pretty as Wallace Beery." He definitely had an ugly "mug." However, he was a lovable loser, at least in this film.

    Cooper played "Dink," a cocky little kid who just loved "The Champ" (Beery). On the VHS tape, Cooper's squeaky little voice did not come across well and often was annoying to hear.

    The boxing scenes were hokey but I liked the ending because at least Beery won the fight, although he collapses afterward. I believe he lost in the re-make of this with Jon Voight and Ricky Shroder in the 1979 film, but I'm not sure.

    The kid's devotion to the champ, even under the toughest of situations, was touching. With clearer sound and picture, I would have kept the tape. I should check out the DVD.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Producer: King Vidor. Associate producers: Harry Rapf and William M. Weiss. Copyrighted on the 19th November 1931 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp. New York opening at the Astor, 9 November 1931. 10 reels. 87 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Former prizefighter has one admirer anyway — his nine- year-old son.

    NOTES: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a tie for Best Actor in the annual awards for 1931: Wallace Beery for "The Champ" coupled with Fredric March for "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". Frances Marion won the award for Original Story (defeating Lady and Gent, Star Witness and What Price Hollywood). "The Champ" was also nominated for Best Picture (awarded to Grand Hotel), and Directing (Frank Borzage for Bad Girl).

    2nd Best Picture of 1932 (Grand Hotel was first) — Film Daily poll of U.S. film critics. The film was shot on a 32-day production schedule — including real location lensing at Tijuana (Mexico) and Caliente race track — at a negative cost of $356,000. Gross domestic rentals on initial release: $917,000.

    Re-made as The Clown (1953) and as The Champ (1979).

    COMMENT: Wallace Beery certainly deserved his Best Actor award. In fact, Cooper deserved one too. Both performers play perfectly together. Vidor has drawn equally convincing portrayals from the rest of his cast, and has brilliantly counter-balanced the innate sentimentality of the story by handling it in a gritty, realistic fashion.

    Avil's photography and other technical credits are as accomplished as we might expect from MGM. All told, outstanding entertainment. America's film critics voted the picture second only to Grand Hotel (also MGM). That's where I'd place it too. The Champ is a triumph.

    AVAILABLE on DVD through Warner Home Video. Quality rating: 10 out of ten.
  • "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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Frances Marion wrote scripts for three movies of Wallace Beery and this was her best script for which she won an Academy award. The story is about a down and out boxer who is at the bottom end of the society makes come back for the sake of his idolizing son brilliantly played by Jackie Cooper. This nine year old star of "Our gang" got bigger praise than Beery from the critics, and loud sobbing from the audience. The friendship between Dink (Jackie Cooper) and his black friend Jonah (Jesse Scott) is color blind and another touching part of the movie. This true tear jerker was directed by King Vidor and excellent supporting roles played by Irene Rich, Jesse Scott and Roscoe Ates. The story has an interesting end when Dink finds his real mother who only happens to be wealthy and too willing to care for him. This movie was done with such professionalism in all departments that it was the biggest box office hit in 1931 for MGM studios; much needed revenue for the studio to stay alive at the height of great depression.

    Another movie inspired by Cooper's "You can do it, dad," phrase of this movie was the "O'Shaughnessy's boy." The script for was pretty much the Jackie Cooper – Wallace Beery formula but their "Champ" box office hit was not repeated. In 1978, 47 years after this movie, Champ was remade starring Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway, which also did not repeat the success of the original Champ.
  • this is one touching,heartwarming's all about the love a father has for his son and vice versa.Wallace Beery is good as the dad,but it's Jackie Cooper(nine years old,at the time)who steals the show)as the a nine year old child,Cooper showed acting ability and maturity way beyond his years.this film has little to do with boxing,and in fact,the one big boxing scene is quite comical,and not in a good way.thank goodness,it secondary,and doesn't lesson the overall impact of the movie.the ending is unexpected and hit me like a punch to the's a powerful moment,and deeply affecting.for me,The Champ(1931)is a 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This almost eighty-year old film will bring both a tear and a smile. It is the story of washed-up and somewhat alcoholic boxer Andy Purcell (Wallace Beery), just known as "Champ" to everyone, including his adoring little son, "Dink", played by Jackie Cooper. It's as though life has really ceased to have meaning for the Champ ever since he lost his championship status. The only thing that continues to give his life meaning is his son. The Champ isn't exactly providing a wholesome environment for Dink. Dink hangs out in pool halls with his Dad, isn't enrolled in school, and sits up nights alone in their dingy room waiting for the Champ to come home when he is out on a drinking binge. Champ's ex-wife, socialite Linda, sees Andy and Dink at the racetrack one day and tries to convince Andy that Dink would be better off with her. At first the Champ is unpersuaded. However, when he gets a hold of a good sum of money and gambles it away and winds up in the drunk tank overnight he decides that maybe it is for the best if Dink goes with Linda.

    Wallace Beery had some lean times after motion pictures transitioned to sound, however he got a new lease on his career at MGM, and it turned out that his coarse voice attracted fans rather than repelled them. He won a well-deserved Best Actor award for his role, but if there had been a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1931 it would have gone to nine-year old Jackie Cooper. He is comic as the street-wise kid meeting his half-sister for the first time - "The dame is goofy" he remarks. He is heart-rending when the Champ tells him he doesn't want him around any more, that he's tired of feeding him, just so he'll go with his mother.

    A minor point that made this film so refreshing for me is that nobody tries to "lawyer up" or turn Dink's fate into a courtroom battle. Everyone deals with everyone else in this film on decent human terms. In the end the Champ tries to regain the championship so he can provide a good life for his son and so that his son can respect him, not so that he can win a custody fight.
  • I've just finished watching this film, which I've been wanting to see for years and I was impressed without being overwhelmed. Wallace Beery's not bad (though a bit stilted) in the leading role; he's better than Irene Rich, playing his ex-wife, who throws herself around the screen, swooning from sofa to sofa in a totally over-acted performance. However, it's Jackie Cooper who steals the show with a portrayal which manages to be both heart-rending and realistic. I know the concept of "real sound" is a disputable one, as sounding real on screen may just entail being a good actor, rather than a realistic one, but nonetheless he does seem far more genuine than the rest of the cast. 8/10.
  • What else can be said about this film? It's now getting close to 80 years old, and yet it's still watchable. That's something I guess. It is showing it age, though.

    While the storyline is incredibly simple, and overall tone is way beyond corny, one thing does stand out, Jackie Cooper's performance. Such a lot of talent in such a little boy. He really did steal the entire show.

    Beery (and the whole rest of the cast as well, really) pretty much just play hokey, one-dimensional, "cardboard cutout" characters with no real development or growth. They do the numbers, do what's required, and follow the token script as far as it'll go (which isn't very far at all). And then the credits roll up.

    But, hey, as I mentioned, it IS getting close to 80! Anyway, worth watching if your expectations aren't too high...
  • evanston_dad20 December 2018
    What the heck was with the trend of movies in the early 1930s about parents who pretended not to want their kids for the kids' own good? Was it that the Depression was seeping into peoples' consciousness and movies like this tapped into their own insecurities about being able to provide for their own families?

    I watched "Min and Bill" not long before "The Champ," another movie starring Wallace Beery that found Marie Dressler pretending not to care a whit about the foster child she raised into young adulthood so that the daughter could go off and have a better life with some rich people. Then in "The Champ," Beery comes to the realization that he's no good for his kid (played by the lachrymose Jackie Cooper) and goes as far as slugging him in the face in an effort to convince the child that he really wants to go live with his mom. Sheesh.

    "The Champ" is pretty maudlin in subject matter, though it's got that gritty look common to movies made during the Depression that makes the film feel less sentimental than it is. This movie LOOKS like the Great Depression, like photos you've seen taken of it, and it's fascinating to me to watch movies that capture a time in history because they were actually made during it rather than trying to recreate it.

    Beery received an Oscar for his performance, though not initially. Back then, the votes were still being tabulated during the Oscar ceremony, and Fredric March was declared the winner for "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Then, at the end of the ceremony, it was announced that Beery had tied with March (he actually lost by something like three votes, but that was considered a tie then), the only instance of a tie in the Best Actor category.

    Workhorse writer Frances Marion also won an Oscar for her original story, the second one she would win for a film starring Wallace Beery (the first being "The Big House" from two years earlier).

    Grade: B
  • kidboots10 July 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    Jackie Cooper was the top child actor at MGM in the early 30s when it was the top studio. He started off as part of "Our Gang" but just a year later was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in "Skippy" (he just lost out to Lionel Barrymore in "A Free Soul"). L. B. Mayer called him "a wonderful kid" and teamed him and Wallace Beery in the emotional and heart wrenching film "The Champ". It has the most tear drenching finale of any film I have ever seen and Jackie Cooper gives an outstanding performance as Dink, the little boy who has an unswerving faith in his hopelessly alcoholic father. The sets have a very gritty and real look - not at all what you would expect from MGM "the dream factory".

    Little Dink lives with his dad, a washed up fighter who can't stay off the booze. His managers try to talk him up to some promoters, promising that he is the same fighter he always was - Dink's job is to sober him up but unfortunately it doesn't work. Andy "The Champ" has always promised Dink a race horse and when his luck changes, he buys "Lil' Champ" - an old and beat up horse that they train up for a race. The day of the race Dink meets his mother (he or she doesn't realise it), Linda, who has the horse "Blue Boy" next to "Lil' Champ" in the stables. Dink introduces her to his little mate - "he's coloured" he says, "yes, but he's kind of a pretty colour" she replies. (It was interesting that you didn't see her shake hands with the little boy, their hands were out of the camera range).

    When "Lil' Champ" loses the race, Linda (Irene Rich)realises who Dink is and wants to give him everything that he has missed out on. (Even though Linda seems lovely - her character is portrayed as once having been a gold-digger who only married Andy when he was rich and famous and left him for a more prosperous gentleman when he was down on his luck).

    Andy is then paid $100 to let Dink visit his mother - while there he sings a few bars of a popular song (Ruth Ettings' "Don't Tell Him What Happened to Me"), meets his step-sister Mary Lou (adorable Marcia Mae Jones) a little cutie who talks to Dink about the reality of fairy tales. After his visit Linda is determined to take Dink away from the unwholesome life he is leading with his dad. Dink and Andy have a magical relationship but after a heartfelt scene Andy convinces Dink to live with his mother, but with Dink away, he loses the will to go on.

    The ending is the most emotional ever and Jackie Cooper was a genuine star. There will not be a dry eye by the film's end. In an interview, I heard Jackie Cooper say he did not get on with Wallace Beery. They made a few pictures together and were considered a team, adored by the public. Cooper said whenever people stopped him in the street to ask what Beery was really like, he had to lie and say what a wonderful guy he was - he couldn't tell them the truth and spoil their illusion. The previous reviewer was right - Beery was not well liked.

    Highly Recommended.
  • How can you fault a film with the great Wallace Beery and the charismatic Jackie Cooper as stars? This is early in the film talkie era, and the outside shots of real places is interesting.

    Both Beery and Cooper can act and there is chemistry between them, but Beery was to do almost this same film again with the talented Dean Stockwell in 1946 with "The Mighty McGurk".

    I doubt a movie today could end on such a sour note, and it remains the only criticism worthy of note in this early classic. The audience does not want the champ to die; the audience wants to see the champ reform his ways. The audience definitely is rooting against his mother and does not want her taking Cooper away from the Champ. The movie ends on this down note and should have been thought through and re-written.

    All in all, The Champ is a great early talkie that captivates you from the beginning and keeps your interest throughout. The characters work well together and the bond between them should never have been broken.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    (mild spoilers)

    I had heard that this was a "tearjerker," but i was completely taken in by the simple story and the incredible relationship between Dink and The Champ.

    I spent the last half of the movie with tears rolling down my cheeks, and i was really struck by a lot of the little details that made the film play much better than a lot of movies nowadays. (And i am not saying that all movies today are bad, hey, i liked the Matrix and Lord of the Rings like everybody else.) But there are little moments, such as the way they hold hands walking out of the gambling joint, or the way Beery takes off his son's shoes and gets him ready for bed, then sits up and looks out the window in despair over having lost everything at the craps table. Just blew me away.

    The scene in the jail DESTROYED me, as did the final scene. Just such amazing characters, and you couldn't help but feel for them. Beery is such a terrific on screen presence , and Cooper was just a joy to watch.

  • Champ, The (1931)

    *** (out of 4)

    Classic tear-jerker won two Academy Awards including Wallace Beery the Best Actor Oscar as well as a Best Screenplay for Frances Marion. The story centers on a former boxing champ (Beery) and his son (Jackie Cooper) who find themselves on the skids but the father plans on making a comeback so that his son can live a better life. THE CHAMP has been imitated so many times over the past eighty-years that it's easy to forget that this was one of the first of its type. The film has lost some of its impact over those years but you'd have to be dead or a complete robot for its ending not to really get to you. I won't ruin what happens but its impact is incredibly strong and touching. The film isn't the greatest ever made and I was a little surprised that the screenplay won as Oscar as I felt it left a few too many questioned unanswered. At the start of the film we see the father-son relationship and this here is tested when the child's mother (Irene Rich) tries to enter back in his life. I thought the screenplay really bumbled some of the scenes between the mother and the son and I found her attempt to get him back a little silly to say the least. I also thought some of the boxing stuff had a few too many clichés. The boxing drama was rich throughout the silent era and this here really doesn't offer up anything new. With all of that said, the main reason to watch this film are for the performances and there's no question that Beery and Cooper were terrific together. Beery would end up splitting the Best Actor award with Fredric March in DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE but he probably should have split it with Cooper. Both give terrific performances but what makes the film so special isn't their individual performances but instead it's the work they do together. There have been thousands of examples of a father-son relationship but I really can't recall too many that seemed as real as the one here. Beery was perfect for this type of slouch as he can pull off being a slob and make us care for him and his rather dimwitted ways. I don't think it's an insult saying this but Cooper has to be one of the greatest crying kids out there. The way he just breaks down in tears would get under anyones skin as he's so believable in these scenes that you can't help but really feel for the guy. Rich is good in her brief scenes as is Roscoe Ates as one of the champ's assistants. A lot of what happens throughout the film really won't come as a shock as the movie is rather predictable but at the same time the thing is just so entertaining that you don't mind it. Again, the ending is somewhat of a legendary thing among classic movies but it still manages to hit you where it counts.
  • Along the California-Mexico border, boxer Wallace Beery (as Andy "Champ" Purcell) is alcoholic, out-of-shape, and unable to fight professionally. Consequently, he and cute son Jackie Cooper (as Dink) are poverty-stricken. Another problem is Mr. Beery's gambling. But, after winning some money, Beery gets young Cooper a racehorse they call "Little Champ" (formerly "Butterfly"). At the track, Cooper meets his mother, Irene Rich (as Linda). Small world. Now married to wealthy Hale Hamilton (as Tony), Ms. Rich decides she wants her son back. Beery refuses to give up Cooper, but his addictions make things difficult...

    Directed by King Vidor, this won Beery his "Best Actor" Oscar. During the "Academy Award" presentations, Fredric March won for "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1931). Near the end, there was some discord about the award, so they announced Beery had also won by declaring contests finishing within three votes would be considered a tie. March won by a vote and was arguably a more accomplished actor, but Beery's performance here is better. Later, the Academy stopped revealing vote totals, making the new rule moot. He and Cooper, a nominee for the recent "Skippy" (1931), have great chemistry. The ending is classic.

    ******* The Champ (11/0/31) King Vidor ~ Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Irene Rich, Roscoe Ates
  • zetes7 November 2010
    A little schmatlzy, and the acting is a little overdone (we are talking about Wallace Beery, after all), but I really liked it. When it wanted me to cry, I cried, and didn't feel guilty about it. Beery plays a single father, a former boxer and current bum, living in Tijuana, drinking himself stupid and gambling any dime he gets his hands on away. His five year old son (Jackie Cooper) idolizes him, referring to him as Champ. His mother apparently left when he was a baby, but now she's back, cleaned up and married to a rich man (I like how the past is not overexplained). Thankfully, she's not played as a villain, but she is afraid her son isn't getting the best in life. Cooper is a little annoying, but like an actual five year-old would be annoying. For child actors at the time, he's damned good.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Finally saw this last night on TCM, and I really can't believe the raves by the other posters! First, if Andy and Linda had actually hooked up, their kid would have looked like a gargoyle! Second, I didn't understand why Andy got Dink. Linda was probably a gold-digger who bailed the second Andy lost the belt, but fathers were very rarely awarded custody back then unless the mother was as an unfit a parent as Andy is!

    Which leads me to the fight. Beery flayed around like a crazed fish in search of water! Why no one told him that you punch straight ahead is beyond me! When Cooper started bawling for this loser, I wanted to deck him! He was so damn annoying throughout, but never more so than then!

    And what happened to Jonah? Didn't anyone care because, as Dink puts it, he's "colored"? That must be it.
  • "The Champ" is a heartwarming experience,with a great performance by Jackie Cooper who steals the whole show.Wallace Beery won an Oscar for his portrayal of the brawling ex-fighter who loves his son deeply. The chemistry between Beery and Cooper is the movie's core. It's nice to see that both the mother and stepfather are portrayed as sympathetic people.Beery's portrayal manages also to convey the flaws in the character of The Champ,which is why we understand how his wife could leave him.But as an ex-boxing champ he's not very believable. The final bout is laughingly choreographed and looks silly. But it is a film I would want to see again.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Andy Purcell is an alcoholic gambler trying to get back into his old heavyweight boxing career, and who has custody of his young son Dink, who idolizes him, despite their living in a squalid apartment and Andy's vices of gambling and drinking. He manages to win a racehorse in a bet, giving it to his son, but ends up running into his ex-wife and her new wealthy husband. Andy ends up gambling further and loses the racehorse, and has to take a $300 bribe from his ex-wife to allow Dink to visit her. The mother can provide a better life for Dink...but will he leave his father? The movie has its contrivances, namely the fact that Andy has custody of his son rather than his mother, which rarely happens either in the past or nowadays unless the mother is clearly unfit (hardly indicated in the story). Also, Beery was supposed to do a poor job of boxing in the fight scene, but he overdoes it, throwing his arms all over the place. Still, the movie works thanks to the performances by the two leads.
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