Champion

Overview

While far from the only good film on boxing, Champion is perhaps the best drama ever based on the fight game. It is remarkable for a number of things, including: the unrelenting, grinding logic that leads to the hero's tragic fate; the beautiful cinematography and editing that make it a masterpiece of light and shadow; near-perfect performances by everyone, from Kirk Douglas as Midge Kelly, down to the actor who played a sleazy small-time ring manager; and the boost it gave to the budding careers of Douglas and ...
See more details below
Blu-ray (Black & White)
$26.57
BN.com price
(Save 11%)$29.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Blu-ray)
  • All (6) from $17.72   
  • New (4) from $17.72   
  • Used (2) from $23.57   

Overview

While far from the only good film on boxing, Champion is perhaps the best drama ever based on the fight game. It is remarkable for a number of things, including: the unrelenting, grinding logic that leads to the hero's tragic fate; the beautiful cinematography and editing that make it a masterpiece of light and shadow; near-perfect performances by everyone, from Kirk Douglas as Midge Kelly, down to the actor who played a sleazy small-time ring manager; and the boost it gave to the budding careers of Douglas and others. The basic story has been told many times, but never so powerfully: A poor, ambitious boy accidentally learns that he is a "natural" boxer, and that he might "go all the way." He wins his early fights with ease and, at last, in the big one, he becomes champion of the world. Then rot sets in. He lives it up, deserts his loved ones and best friends, and loses his physical and moral advantages. Near the end -- out of condition, demoralized -- the champion loses or almost loses his boxing crown. Finally, he grits his teeth, returns to rigorous training and to people he really likes, and he regains or holds onto the championship. Part of Champion's dramatic superiority is in its brilliant revealing of the boxer through the eyes of other people in his life. There are good guys -- Midge's brother Connie Arthur Kennedy, his tough but honest trainer Paul Stewart, his wife Emma Ruth Roman and Johnny Dunne, the up-and-coming contender he eventually beats. There are bad guys -- the manager who cheats him in his first, amateurish fight, two successive "owners," of the diner where Midge and Connie try to be entrepreneurs and end up as dishwashers, the blonde siren Marilyn Maxwell who abandons Johnny Dunne and helps corrupt Midge, and the mob-connected promoter Harris, who gets Midge his championship bout. There are ambiguous in-betweens, like Palmer Lola Albright who is Harris' wife, but who loves Midge and is, perhaps, loved in return. Then there is Midge himself. Unlike Charlie in Body and Soul John Garfield, 1947 or the hero of the Rocky quintuplets Sylvester Stallone, 1976-1990, Midge is not a basically nice guy who's been led astray. His ambition, arrogance and stubbornness make him at once villain and hero. These "fatal flaws" contain, as surely as in Macbeth or Othello, the seeds of the champ's ultimate dissolution. Midge is dealt his share of life's unfairness and bad luck. Yet it is not the events themselves, but his bitter, violent responses to each blow that seal his doom. The final irony comes when he makes his comeback. In the last round of the last fight, his most manly virtues -- bull-like strength and stubborn stamina -- bring about both victory and defeat.

Too bad that this wonderful film -- nominated for six Oscars including "Best Actor" -- won only an Academy Award for "Film Editing" Harry Gerstad and a Golden Globe Award for "Best Cinematography" Franz Planer. All the acting performances are superb: Champion was the breakthrough role for Douglas; his Oscar nomination led to many later starring vehicles. Champion also launched the careers of actresses Roman and Albright, and has what is probably Marilyn Maxwell's finest performance as the unforgettable golddigger, Grace Diamond. And all that terrific acting certainly implies some credit for Director Mark Robson, who went on to do award-winners like Bright Victory and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Regardless of what Oscars it won or didn't win, Champion is a landmark film that should be on everyone's "must see" list. The film is also available on beautiful, digitally remastered video.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Mark Robson's Champion was one of three boxing movies that caught the public's interest in the late '40s. Nastier in tone than Body and Soul (1947) or The Set-Up (1949), Champion is perhaps the harshest example of the genre, a descent into a moral abyss in which its hero -- Kirk Douglas at his brashest and most intense -- leads the charge and never looks back at what he's given up. In contrast to John Garfield's Charley Davis in Body and Soul, who sells his soul for success but redeems his honor in the end, and Robert Ryan's Stoker Thompson in The Set-Up, who is a victim plain and simple, Douglas' Midge Kelly is the architect of his own destruction. The movie raised some unpleasant truths about human nature, and Douglas was so compelling in a vile and irredeemable role that he almost single-handedly changed the rules for the roles that could be played by Hollywood leading men and in which the public would accept them. (Billy Wilder and Fred MacMurray had already made progress in this direction with Double Indemnity in 1944, but most leading men were still unwilling to take that kind of risk.) Had Douglas, pegged as one of Hollywood's comers, not taken the role near the outset of his career and run with it to an Oscar nomination and box-office success, we might never have seen financing for such movies as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One, On the Waterfront, The Naked Jungle, The Harder They Fall, The Man With the Golden Arm, or other groundbreaking antihero vehicles of the 1950s, which were Hollywood's most daring films of a decade often regarded as bland. Ironically, Champion received more Oscar nominations than any other boxing film made up to that time (and until Raging Bull), in every major category except Best Director, which was telling about Robson's career -- he was a workmanlike director capable of occasional inspiration, but his best films featured the close involvement of a producer, Val Lewton early on and Stanley Kramer (who, with Douglas, reaped the lion's share of career benefits from this film) on Champion.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/23/2013
  • UPC: 887090060608
  • Original Release: 1949
  • Rating:

  • Source: Olive Films
  • Aspect Ratio: Academy Aperture (1.37:1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:39:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 10,848

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kirk Douglas Midge Kelly
Marilyn Maxwell Grace Diamond
Arthur Kennedy Connie Kelly
Paul Stewart Tommy Haley
Ruth Roman Emma Bryce
Lola Albright Mrs. Harris
Luis Van Rooten Jerome Harris
John Day Johnny Dunne
Harry Shannon Lew Bryce
Ralph Sanford Hammond
Esther Howard Mrs. Kelly
Technical Credits
Mark Robson Director
Carl Foreman Screenwriter
Harry Gerstad Editor
Goldie Goldmark Songwriter
Stanley Kramer Producer
Franz Planer Cinematographer
Rudolph Sternad Production Designer
Robert Stillman Associate Producer
Dimitri Tiomkin Score Composer
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously