Dink Purcell loves his alcoholic father, ex-heavyweight champion Andy "Champ" Purcell, despite his frequent binges, his frequent gambling and their squalid living conditions. And there's ... See full summary »
Dink Purcell loves his alcoholic father, ex-heavyweight champion Andy "Champ" Purcell, despite his frequent binges, his frequent gambling and their squalid living conditions. And there's nothing Andy wouldn't do for Dink. When Andy wins a race horse gambling, he gives it to Dink and they race it at a Tijuana track. There, Dink meets Linda Carleton, a race horse owner herself, and they have an immediate rapport. But Linda's rich husband sees Andy and realizes Dink is Linda's son, who she gave up when she and Andy divorced. Andy is bribed $200 to allow Dink to visit with Linda, but refuses to allow Dink to spend six months with the Carletons. When Andy loses the horse gambling and winds up in jail after a drunken tirade, he realizes Dink's place is with his mother. Dink tearfully goes but sneaks out and returns at his first opportunity, filling a depressed Andy with a desire to make good. So Andy goes into training after his managers arrange a boxing match with the Mexican champion. Written by
Arthur Hausner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
'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.
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