Champion (1949)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir, Sport  |  9 April 1949 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 2,261 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 25 critic

Boxer Midge Kelly rises to fame...mainly by stepping on other people.



(screenplay), (story)
0Check in

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Video

Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An unscrupulous movie producer uses an actress, a director and a writer to achieve success.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Walter Pidgeon
Body and Soul (1947)
Drama | Film-Noir | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Charley Davis wins an amateur boxing match and is taken on by promoter Quinn. Charley's mother doesn't want him to fight, but when Charley's father is accidentally killed, Charley sets up a... See full summary »

Director: Robert Rossen
Stars: John Garfield, Lilli Palmer, Hazel Brooks
I Walk Alone (1948)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Frankie Madison leaves prison expecting a share from his ex-partner. But Prohibition bootlegging didn't prepare Frankie for Big Business.

Director: Byron Haskin
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas
Adventure | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A U.S. Marshall and two deputies rescue a cattle rustler from a lynch mob led by a local cattle baron convinced that the rustler also killed his son.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Virginia Mayo, John Agar
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

On one day in the 21st Precinct squad room, assorted characters form a backdrop for the troubles of hard-nosed Detective Jim McLeod.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix
The Set-Up (1949)
Film-Noir | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Over-the-hill boxer Bill 'Stoker' Thompson insists he can still win, though his sexy wife Julie pleads with him to quit. But his manager Tiny is so confident he will lose, he takes money ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A fiercely independent cowboy arranges to have himself locked up in jail in order to then escape with an old friend who has been sentenced to the penitentiary.

Director: David Miller
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Gena Rowlands, Walter Matthau
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A letter is addressed to three wives from their "best friend" Addie Ross, announcing that she is running away with one of their husbands: but she does not say which one.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A ruthless, domineering woman is married to an alcoholic D.A., her childhood companion who is the only living witness to her murder of her rich aunt seventeen years earlier.

Director: Lewis Milestone
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott
Drama | Film-Noir | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Down-on-his-luck ex-sportswriter Eddie Willis is hired by shady fight promoter Nick Benko to promote his latest find, an unknown but easily exploitable phenom from Argentina.

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

George Taylor returns from WWII with amnesia. Back home in Los Angeles, while trying to track down his old identity, he stumbles onto a 3-year old murder case and a hunt for a missing $2 million.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: John Hodiak, Nancy Guild, Lloyd Nolan
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes


Complete credited cast:
Marilyn Maxwell ...
Luis Van Rooten ...
Harry Shannon ...
John Daheim ...
Dunne (as John Day)
Ralph Sanford ...
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 <>

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  »

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?


The address, 49 Eagle Street, that Kirk Douglas mentions, was actually the address of where he grew up as a child. 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 »


Tommy Haley: This is a celebration. Midge is getting a shot at the title, and he's got a new manager... a blonde.
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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

How Kirk Douglas became an immediate star.
8 August 2003 | by (st. louis) – See all my reviews

During the three years just following World War II, Kirk Douglas had completed seven feature films. He already had caught the attention of key motion picture executives, such as producer Hal Wallis. Success was gradually coming Douglas' way. But, with "Champion", like a sudden knockout punch, Douglas instantly achieved his lofty aim. In this low-budget film gem, populated by outstanding character portrayals, Kirk Douglas' performance as boxer Midge Kelly is the bravura centerpiece. Though the multi-textured character of Kelly, as created by Ring Lardner in his short story, lends itself to a strong performance, it is Douglas who lifts the character into the stratosphere. At age 33, and having been a wrestler while attending New York's St. Lawrence University a decade earlier, Douglas still possessed the phyical tools for this role. His work in the fight and training scenes are accurate and strongly believeable. But it is his performance as Midge Kelly the individual that is stunningly riveting. During "Champion", Douglas becomes the character until it is virtually impossible to separate actor and role. He eagerly assimilates Kelly's various nuances and attitudes. Passion has always been a Kirk Douglas hallmark. Never has he been so powerfully passionate as in this performance. Contemporary audiences may like to compare the screen work of son, Michael, with that of his father. But after seeing Kirk Douglas' unforgettable performance in "Champion", comparisons fade.

In his biography, "Ragman's Son," Douglas tells of watching a screening of "Champion" in the home of a studio mogul who had invited numerous people unknown to the actor...who himself was unknown to the guests. After the screening, Douglas relates, the guests---as one---turned back toward him with overwhelmed expressions. They now had a startled new knowledge of the young actor whose presence at the back of the room they only vaguely had acknowledged.

Joining Douglas, with excellent performances of their own, were Paul Stewart, Marilyn Maxwell, Luis Van Ruten, Ruth Roman, John Day, Arthur Kennedy and Lola Albright. Each was highly believeable.

Even if Carl Foreman's adaptation of Lardner's story was sometimes predictable, the combination of Douglas' volatile performance, and the high-calibre work of the supporting actors make "Champion" a mini-masterpiece.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
anyone else just watched this on ch4? thePaleface
Hal March cameo efffee
What is a Golem? yj270
Tarantino, the gold watch, and champion sly_3
Discuss Champion (1949) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: