Review: ‘The Champ’

A good picture, almost entirely by virtue of an inspired performance by a boy, Jackie Cooper. There is none of the usual hammy quality of the average child actor in this kid.

A good picture, almost entirely by virtue of an inspired performance by a boy, Jackie Cooper. There is none of the usual hammy quality of the average child actor in this kid.

What also makes The Champ a good talker is a studied, understanding adult piece of work by the costar, Wallace Beery, who had to step to keep up with Jackie, and a Frances Marion original story that isn’t bad for a boxing story.

Beery plays a broken down ex-heavyweight champ. He’s anchored in Tiajuana with his kid and a couple of training camp leeches, and training for a comeback between stews. When not stewing he’s gambling and the comeback always seems more distant. He wins enough to buy the kid a race horse. Then he loses the horse in a crap game.

In the attempts of the Champ’s former wife and the boy’s mother to regain her son there is some menace, though Irene Rich as the mother and Hale Hamilton as her second husband are painted lily white by the script.

1931/32: Best Actor (Wallace Beery), Original Story.

Nominations: Best Picture, Director

The Champ

Production

M-G-M. Director King Vidor; Screenplay Frances Marion, Leonard Praskins, Wanda Tuchock; Camera Gordon Avil; Editor Hugh Wynn;; Art Director Cedric Gibbons

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1931. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Wallace Beery Jackie Cooper Irene Rich Roscoe Ates Edward Brophy Hale Hamilton
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