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The Champ (1979) Poster

(1979)

Trivia

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Over two thousand children were interviewed for the key child role of T.J. Flynn which was won by then child actor Ricky Schroder.
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Film debut of actor Ricky Schroder.
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Publicity for this picture reported that actor Jon Voight shunned using a stunt-double and did all of his boxing scenes himself.
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The person who Jon Voight fought in the film's climactic boxing match fight was real-life boxer Randall Cobb who had won seven professional fights by K.O.'s.
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According to a 21st July 2011 article by Richard Chin published on the "The Smithsonian" website, "The Champ (1979) has been used in experiments to see if depressed people are more likely to cry than non-depressed people (they aren't). It has helped determine whether people are more likely to spend money when they are sad (they are) and whether older people are more sensitive to grief than younger people (older people did report more sadness when they watched the scene). Dutch scientists used the scene when they studied the effect of sadness on people with binge eating disorders (sadness didn't increase eating)".
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The film was originally intended for father and son Ryan O'Neal and Griffin O'Neal. Ryan O'Neal instead appeared in another boxing movie, The Main Event (1979), which was first released in the same 1979 year as this movie.
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Ricky Schroder recalls turning 8 during filming in April, 1978.
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At just age nine, Ricky Schroder won the Golden Globe Award for "Best New Male Star of the Year in a Motion Picture" for his performance as T.J. Flynn in this film.
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The nickname of Ricky Schroder's character was "T.J." It stands for the first two name of his character Timothy Joseph Flynn. In the two earlier film versions of "The Champ", the character was known as"Dink".
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Jon Voight was trained in boxing by Jimmy Gambina who had done the fight sequences for Rocky (1976). Gambina once described the big fight in The Champ (1979) as "the best boxing sequence for a movie I have ever seen - better even than Rocky (1976)".
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To play the boxing character of Billy "The Champ" Flynn in this movie, actor Jon Voight had to learn a lot of things quickly and had a tough time physically working on the picture. To do the fight scenes, Voight had to undertake an intensive training schedule.
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One of the final films of actor Strother Martin and actress Joan Blondell.
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The film's two adult leads had both recently won Best Acting Academy Awards (Oscars), Jon Voight - Best Actor for Coming Home (1978) (this was Voight's first film after that movie) and Faye Dunaway - Best Actress for Network (1976) a couple of years earlier.
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The original screen version of The Champ (1931) won two Academy Awards - Wallace Beery tied for Best Actor and Frances Marion won Best Writing, Original Story. This remake also got Oscar nominated - for Best Score for composer Dave Grusin, but did not win.
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Actress Faye Dunaway played a mother in this movie. Around the time that the film was made, motherhood was a dream ambition for the actress. Dunaway became a mother in real life the year after the film was first launched.
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Actor Jon Voight was Golden Globe Award nominated for Best Actor (Drama) but lost out to Dustin Hoffman, his Midnight Cowboy (1969) co-star, for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
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The amount of money that champ Billy Flynn (Jon Voight) won gambling at the crap tables was US $6,400.
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The name of the horse that was a gift from Billy Flynn (Jon Voight) to his son Timothy (Ricky Schroder) was "She's a Lady".
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After looking at thousands of child actors, screen testing Ricky Schroder and putting him up in a hotel with his family, the producers finally offered him the role on the condition that his parents sign an exclusive, 7-year contract on his behalf. Schroeder's mother refused, saying she couldn't do that to a little boy, and prepared to return home with her family. The producers relented, and offered the role with no strings attached.
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Part of a cycle of ring fighter movies, mostly boxing, some wrestling, initiated by the box-office and critical success of the Academy Award Best Picture winning boxing movie Rocky (1976). The films include Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Tough Enough (1983), Title Shot (1979), Raging Bull (1980), The Champ (1979), Matilda (1978), The Main Event (1979), The Prize Fighter (1979), The Greatest (1977), Body and Soul (1981), Paradise Alley (1978), ...All the Marbles (1981) (aka "The California Dolls"), The One and Only (1978), Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and Any Which Way You Can (1980).
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One of a number of remakes directed by Franco Zeffirelli.
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A short seven minute promotional featurette was made for this film and distributed in theaters. It is called "On Location with The Champ" and is included on the film's DVD.
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The amount of time that Billy "The Champ" Flynn (Jon Voight) had not professionally fought was seven years. This was the same period of time that he had been estranged from his wife Annie (Faye Dunaway).
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American directorial film debut of Italian director Franco Zeffirelli.
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The name of the title that Billy "The Champ" Flynn (Jon Voight) had previously won was the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World.
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Actor Robert Redford was approached to play the lead after Ryan O'Neal withdrew from his offer to play Billy "The Champ" Flynn. Redford though wanted script changes which would push back the start date of principal photography, so the production then looked elsewhere.
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The movie actually started production without an actor playing the title lead boxer role of The Champ.
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Faye Dunaway's part was only a supporting role but this fitted with what the actress was doing at the time which was only taking smaller roles.
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The start of shooting was delayed from February to March 1979 as the production had no leading man.
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This, the third screen version of "The Champ", was, like the two previous versions made and released in 1931 and 1953, a production of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. As such, all three films are MGM titles.
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The name of the big boat was "Tiger Winds".
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Actor Ricky Schroder was seven years old when cast for the movie, eight years old when he acted in the picture, and nine years old when he won a Golden Globe Award for the film.
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The movie's boxing grand finale was staged the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles with around two thousand extras and background artists.
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Second remake and third screen version of "The Champ". The film was made and released about twenty-six years after the first remake and second version, The Clown (1953), which debuted around 1953, and around forty-eight years after the original first movie The Champ (1931), which had been first released in 1931.
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Actor Jon Voight had previously played a boxer around six years earlier in The All-American Boy (1973).
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Director Franco Zeffirelli wanted to contrast the stark realism of the ring fighter boxing world and racetrack and gambling scene with something colorful and flamboyant so he chose the Vizcaya Fashion Show, with outfits and costumes from the Helen Larson Collection, as a fashion show set-piece for the film. Moreover, interestingly, actress Faye Dunaway's previous picture had been the fashion photography thriller Eyes of Laura Mars (1978).
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Ricky Schroder played the role which had been played by famous child star Jackie Cooper in the original film version of The Champ (1931). Cooper was nine years old when he appeared in that movie whereas Schroder was eight years when he appeared in this remake.
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Playing a boxing coach in this movie was actor Jack Warden who had just the previous year played a sports trainer in another movie, as Warren Beatty's football coach in Heaven Can Wait (1978).
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This film was one of a number of movies in a 1980s Hollywood cycle of pictures about divorce. Initiated by the Best Picture Oscar winning film Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), the cycle included that movie as well as Shoot the Moon (1982), The Champ (1979), Author! Author! (1982), Table for Five (1983), Heartburn (1986), Irreconcilable Differences (1984), Enemies: A Love Story (1989), The Good Mother (1988), The War of the Roses (1989) and The Last Married Couple in America (1980).
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This boxing picture was released in the same 1979 year as Rocky II (1979), Title Shot (1979), The Prize Fighter (1979), and The Main Event (1979).
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Filmed in one take, the start of the movie's end big boxing match which included the fighters' entrance, ringside introduction of the boxers and the first three minute round.
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Whilst in London directing William Shakespeare plays for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, director Franco Zeffirelli chanced seeing a TV re-run of the old MGM The Champ (1931) in his hotel one night. The film had made a big impression on him as a child. Zefirelli then rang his producer business associate Dyson Lovell and said "Turn on your TV and look at the movie we are going to make in the United States".
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Producer Dyson Lovell once said of this remake and the original film of The Champ (1931): "1931 is a long time ago. The approach we're using is fresh. We've updated the characters and the story-line, and now it's less a boxing picture than the story of a broken marriage - set against the worlds of boxing, racing, and high fashion".
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Both of the stars of John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy (1969) both starred in film(s) about divorce, separation and step-families afterwards. Jon Voight starred in this 1979 film and in Table for Five (1983) whilst Dustin Hoffman starred also in 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
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Jon Bought and Ricky Schroeder played father and son again in 1993's Return to Lonesome Dove.
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The nickname of Billy Flynn (Jon Voight) was "The Champ".
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Actor Jack Warden played a character, Jackie Shroll, with a similar first name to his own.
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This was the first feature film of Ricky Schroder's big child-star period. The later movies were The Earthling (1980), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980) and The Last Flight of Noah's Ark (1980).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

According to Wikipedia, "the final scene has been used in numerous psychology experiments to elicit a strong emotional response. According to Smithsonian magazine two psychologists, Robert Levenson and James Gross, conducted a study of more than 250 movie clips, and subjected them to 500 subjects in 1988, and concluded the last three minutes of the movie, where "T.J." sees his father win in his comeback fight only to witness his death in the dressing room afterwards, elicited the saddest response from a majority of the subjects. In the scene the grief-stricken "T.J." is inconsolable tugging his father's body while crying out "Champ, wake up. Please wake up, Champ"." As such, this picture has been labeled one of the saddest movies ever made.
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The dramatic climax where T.J. watches his father die has since been used extensively by scientists in many psychological experiments. Where many movies proved unsuitable in eliciting a single type of emotion, many researchers found this scene particularly effective for inducing overwhelming sadness in their subjects.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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