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 <email@example.com>
What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?
spoilers 1949's "Champion" explores this idea, and does it with a straightforward economy of style typical of the noir style. I'm not sure if I'd go all the way and label it noir - like Robert Wise's "The Set-Up" it feels like too much of a boxing film for me to do that, but it does come awfully close.
There are echoes of Howard Hawks' "Scarface" in "Champion", what with a lower class boy coming to power through violence and force of will. However, Kirk Douglas does it through reputable, official violence. On the other hand, although Midge Kelley distances himself from his family, Tony Camonte keeps his family close - the difference that it makes is that in the end, when both larger than life figures are near the end, Tony Camonte has his sister fighting by his side, whereas Midge has no one and nothing but madness.
The Director, Mark Robson, manages to make Midge's slow removal into being an asshole and a money-centered jerk convincing. You can't tell at first, but all the clues are there. It's a natural development, and really it is quite amazing to think back that this man, who does these awful things, started out so charming and sincere. All in all, well-done. The cinematography is great, too.
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