51 user 26 critic

Champion (1949)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Sport | 9 April 1949 (USA)
Boxer Midge Kelly rises to fame...mainly by stepping on other people.



(screenplay), (story "Champion")

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Luis Van Rooten ...
Harry Shannon ...
John Daheim ...
Dunne (as John Day)
Esther Howard ...
Mrs. Kelly


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


Every woman goes for a Champion. See more »


Drama | Film-Noir | Sport


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 April 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De kampioen  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Shot in 23 days for $600,000. See more »


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 »


Midge Kelly: [to Grace] You dumped me once. Now I'm dumping you. For good. You better promote yourself another meal ticket.
See more »


Referenced in Kirk Douglas: Before I Forget (2009) See more »


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

The best "anti-boxing" film ever made
29 January 2007 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I liked this movie for many reasons--the acting, the writing and probably most of all because it strips away the clichés of most boxing films and exposes it for the ugly sport that it is. While there were several exceptional anti-boxing films (REQUIUM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT, THE HARDER THEY FALL and THE SET-UP), this one is the most dramatic, unflinching in its violence and features the most amoral and dislikable lead you'll ever find. Kirk Douglas was just great as the smooth-talking but totally self-absorbed boxer who was "the Champion". While in some films his larger than life persona might not work so well, Douglas' talents were exactly what this film needed and this film rightfully made him famous. In addition to his acting, I really think the next biggest star of the film were the makeup artists who managed to make Douglas look as if he'd been pulverized. Following his final bout, in particular, he appears to have had his face beaten to a pulp--and it's not easy to achieve that sort of look. The third star was the unflinching and exceptional script--it didn't pull any punches and gives a wonderful portrait of a horrible person who makes it to the top of his game by walking on everyone who he comes across. This great film is best described as a Film Noir boxing film and is strongly recommended (unless you have a weak stomach). In addition, all the above mentioned movies would be excellent viewing. Unlike GOLDEN BOY and KID GALLAHAD, these films de-glamorize a sick and dangerous "sport" and seek to deconstruct the clichéd image of the boxing hero.

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