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Champion (1949)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Sport | 20 May 1949 (USA)
Boxer Midge Kelly rises to fame...mainly by stepping on other people.

Director:

Mark Robson

Writers:

Carl Foreman (screenplay), Ring Lardner (story "Champion")
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Kirk Douglas ... Midge
Marilyn Maxwell ... Grace
Arthur Kennedy ... Connie
Paul Stewart ... Haley
Ruth Roman ... Emma
Lola Albright ... Palmer
Luis Van Rooten Luis Van Rooten ... Harris
Harry Shannon ... Lew
John Daheim John Daheim ... Dunne (as John Day)
Ralph Sanford ... Hammond
Esther Howard ... Mrs. Kelly
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Storyline

Midge Kelly, hitchhiking west with lame brother Connie, is hustled unprepared into a pro boxing match. Though he's severely beaten, manager Tommy Haley finds him promising. Arrived in California, Midge and Connie find nothing but a menial job from which Midge gets relief by seducing Emma, a lovely young waitress. One shotgun marriage later, ambitious Midge falls back on the only option he knows: boxing. Seduced by cheering crowds, money, and a succession of blondes, Midge becomes more and more of a hero in public...and a heel in private. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boxing | boxer | gym | waitress | promoter | See All (34) »

Taglines:

This is the only sport in the world where two guys get paid for doing something they'd be arrested for if they got drunk and did it for nothing. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir | Sport

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 May 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

De kampioen See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Pink Floyd's song "Lost for Words" used a boxing match sound from this movie as a background (the announcer words - "Ladies and gentlemen, the winner by a knockout..." in the fight where Midge knocks down the boxer he was fixed to lose). The song appears in "The Division Bell" album, released in 1994. See more »

Goofs

Midge mangles the sculpture that Palmer has made of him, twisting the head out of alignment. In next shot, the head of statue is back in its original location. See more »

Quotes

Emma: It's funny.
Midge: What?
Emma: You know, I didn't like you at first. Well, you know, you never smile. I mean really smile. Not just on the outside.
Midge: Got to be happy to smile that way.
Emma: Aren't you happy?
Midge: Well, right now I am.
Emma: Then why don't you smile?
Emma: [he laughs] Midge, why aren't you happy?
Midge: Happy? It's hard to be happy when you're poor. I've been poor all my life. Real poor. You know what it is to be real poor? Cold poor? Hungry poor?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer-colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Andrew Klavan Show: Drinking Clinton's Tears (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Never Be It Said
By Dimitri Tiomkin and Goldie Goldmark (as "Goldie" Goldmark)
Sung by Polly Bergen (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Kirk Knew What He Wanted
9 December 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

According to the Films of Kirk Douglas book, Douglas was offered a choice between a big budget MGM loan out The Great Sinner and this small independent film Champion about boxing. For the first time in his career Douglas was able to show what a shrewd judge of stories that were tailor made for him.

He chose Champion and for his efforts earned his first trip to the Oscar Sweepstakes. He lost the big prize to Broderick Crawford for All the Kings Men. But from then on in Kirk Douglas was taken seriously as an actor. Douglas was also determined to break free of studio contracts and chart his own career. Some actors can and some are terrible judges of screen property. Kirk Douglas has always been in the first category.

The story involved two brothers, Kirk Douglas and Arthur Kennedy, who when we first meet them are bumming their way across the country to take possession of a diner that was sold to them bogusly. To earn some eating money, Kirk had gone the distance in a four round preliminary fight and came to the attention of fight manager Paul Stewart. Now dead broke, Douglas turns to Stewart who takes him on as a prize fighter, for real.

Douglas can't forget those days in the hobo jungle and is willing to do anything, use anybody to rise to the top of his profession. His role is a complex one, he's ruthless and tough, but he also has to have enough charm to fool the three women who enter his life, Ruth Roman, Marilyn Maxwell, and Lola Albright.

Arthur Kennedy got an Oscar nomination in the Supporting Actor category as Douglas's brother and conscience. Paul Stewart is every inch the wise professional fight manager who steps out of his league when Douglas gets into the big money in the fight game.

There's not a moviegoer who's ever seen Champion who will forget the primeval look on Kirk Douglas's face in the climatic fight scene in defense of his championship as he gets back up from the last of several knockdowns. Like something out of a Hammer horror picture, it's that frightening. You won't forget it either.


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