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Death of a Champion (1939)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 24 August 1939 (USA)
Oliver Quade is a pitchman who follows state fairs that feature dog shows---which limits his territory more than a little---at which he sells encyclopedias...and does it well as he ... See full summary »



(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview:
Joseph Allen ...
Richie Oakes (as Joseph Allen Jr.)
Small Fry
Susan Paley ...
Lois Lanyard
Guy Lanyard
Alec Temple
May Boley ...
Ma Sloane
Hal Brazeale ...
Gerald Lanyard
Chief Sanders
David Clyde ...
Angus McTavish
Walter Soderling ...
Albert Deacon
Dr. Taylor (as Bob McKenzie)


Oliver Quade is a pitchman who follows state fairs that feature dog shows---which limits his territory more than a little---at which he sells encyclopedias...and does it well as he possesses a photographic memory that amazes the rubes. The Champion, in the title, is a Great Dane who has won the title at the Rubeville State Fair, and it isn't long before the Champion turns up dead, which is because somebody---motive unknown at the moment---has killed the Champion. This is repeated at other shows along the way and Quade's bright young assistant, "Small Fry", fancies himself as an amateur detective, and starts nosing around into the mystery and drags Quade along with him. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Release Date:

24 August 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Morte de um Campeão  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its initial television presentation took place in Chicago Tuesday 13 January 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2), followed by Omaha 18 February 1959 on KETV (Channel 7). After nearly a year, it was once again taken out of the vault and enjoyed its initial airings in Milwaukee 1 December 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in St. Louis 29 December 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4), in Toledo 9 January 1960 on WTOL (Channel 11), in Johnstown 8 June 1960 on WJAC (Channel 6), and in Cleveland 17 December 1960 on WJW (Channel 8). See more »

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User Reviews

A highly enjoyable 1930s B mystery
13 June 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Lynne Overman is always entertaining and pair him with a very young Donald O'Connor and even a small B picture has to be a winner. And because of those two, it is. It also helps that the screenplay was written by Stuart Palmer, the author of the wonderful Hildegard Withers novels. Oliver Quade (Overman) – the Human Encyclopedia- travels around the country with "Small Fry" (O'Connor). The come-on for the sales pitch is Oliver's photographic memory. As Small Fry puts it Oliver "knows everything, remembers everything and forgets nothing." Oliver says that he will make a pitch anywhere "…clam-bake, county fair, dog show-what's the difference? If there's a quartet, I'll be there." Sadly, a beautiful Harlequin Great Dane named Prince Dansker is poisoned at the dog show. His owner Guy Lanyard (Harry Davenport) offers a $1,000.00 reward for the identification of Prince Dansker's killer. A dog show judge, AJ Deacon is murdered – his mumbled dying words sound like "Harold blue too." Small Fry, an enthusiastic aficionado of detective stories decides to investigate. While searching for clues he comes upon another body that later disappears. There follows yet another murder but in the end, Oliver and Small Fry sort it out. And along the way, Oliver falls for Lanyard's daughter, Lois (Susan Paley). Oliver's photographic memory provides a number of key plot elements. At one point Oliver tells Small Fry that he is tired of the life on the road, "eating in hash houses" and later refers to "one-armed lunchrooms." I had never heard of the expression "one-armed lunchrooms," and the term intrigued me. Evidently, the one-armed chair was a feature of eating places that served fast-food type lunches and were popular from the very late 19th century through the mid-30s. Who knew? The slang and interesting dialog in the movie add to the enjoyment. This movie is a winner – I just wish I had a better print of it.

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