New York gangsters trying to muscle in on the California wrestling scene come up against a wrestler who won't knuckle under. They frame him for a murder, and his manager and a cop set out to... Read allNew York gangsters trying to muscle in on the California wrestling scene come up against a wrestler who won't knuckle under. They frame him for a murder, and his manager and a cop set out to clear his name, catch the real killers and save the reputation of the sport of wrestling.New York gangsters trying to muscle in on the California wrestling scene come up against a wrestler who won't knuckle under. They frame him for a murder, and his manager and a cop set out to clear his name, catch the real killers and save the reputation of the sport of wrestling.
- Al Merlo
- (as Jim Nolan)
- Bert Tracy
- (as Frank Scannell)
- TV Announcer
- Bomber Kulkovich
- (as Bomber Kulkovich)
ALIAS THE CHAMP is a fun film, you can tell by the lighthearted music during the opening credits that this one is not going to take itself too seriously. In the spotlight, literally and figuratively, is Gorgeous George the wrestler who paved the way for the over the top, larger than life characters we see to-day. George has a problem, some gangsters from New York are trying to bulldoze their way into the California wrestling scene. Using threats and intimidation they have won over some smalltime grapplers but the superstars like George and his rival "Slammin'" Sammy Mennaker are defying them. It's up to George's gorgeous manager (Audrey Long) and a tough police lieutenant (Robert Rockwell) to pin these bad guys down for a 3-count before they get the "real" wrestlers on the ropes. (Hey isn't that almost the exact same plot as PIN DOWN GIRLS? Well, yes but who cares these movies are always fun.) It is not revealing too much to say that the gangsters try to get George out of the way by framing him for a crime but amazingly the cop uses a new device, television, to clear GG's name.
George Blair is a good director and he handles the plot very well. He allows Gorgeous George to basically be himself. You have to wonder if he and Sammy really were rivals outside the ring as well as inside. The movie is short, 1 hour 47 seconds by my stopwatch, but Mr. Blair sets the mood by giving us an 8 minute grappling match at the very beginning. Television was a relatively new device in 1948. It was also an expensive toy that few homes could afford. I recall my uncle telling me that in those old days there were only 3 channels and they all competed with each other. Telecasting live wrestling and boxing matches was a sure way to get viewers.
Later on there is a free-for-all in a training gym that pits real wrestlers against each other. Watch this scene closely for cult film star to be Tor Johnson. The 45 year old Johnson really was a wrestler at this time and was known as The Super Swedish Angel. He'd played small roles in movies since 1933 but in this film he plays himself. During the fight scene he takes on 2 guys at a time and has no trouble polishing them off. We also get to see him wrestle in THE LEMON DROP KID (1947) and it's interesting to see how many of his ring mannerisms he incorporated into his later roles in Ed Wood movies.
Watch also for familiar character actors like John Hamilton (Perry White in the "Superman" TV show) and John Harmon (best remembered as the lighthouse keeper in THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS) in supporting roles.
ALIAS THE CHAMP is a good, entertaining movie. Personally though I wish they had used Tor Johnson in more scenes.
- Jul 12, 2005