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The Champ (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Sport | 21 November 1931 (USA)
1:25 | Trailer

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Alcoholic ex-boxer struggles to provide a good living for his son.




(story), (dialogue continuity) | 1 more credit »
Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Sponge (as Rosco Ates)
Hale Hamilton ...
Jesse Scott ...
Mary Lou


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 <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gambling | horse | boxing | boy | racetrack | See All (34) »


Don't fail to get a ringside seat! See more »


Drama | Sport


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 November 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El campeón  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The racetrack scenes were shot on the MGM back lot, with a few establishing shots taken at Agua Caliente in Baja California, Mexico. The film also includes some location shots taken in Tijuana. See more »


During the fight, The Champ sustains a cut above his left eye, but when he goes back to his corner it is gone. The cut comes back when the fighting resumes and stays for the duration of the film. See more »


[Dink compares the swanky home to his own]
Dink Purcell: The Champ and I ain't fixed up swell as this, but our joint's more lively.
See more »


Referenced in Northern Exposure: Heal Thyself (1993) See more »


The Stars and Stripes Forever
(1896) (uncredited)
Written by John Philip Sousa
Played by the band at the racetrack
See more »

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User Reviews

A bit dated but it still packs an emotional wallop.
16 January 2014 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

"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.

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