Former heavyweight boxing champion Andy “Champ” Purcell has fallen into a life of drinking and gambling. Living in Tijuana with his son Dink, he has trouble maintaining the façade of an ambitious athlete in front of the young boy. Champ wins a racehorse and runs it at the track, where he encounters Dink’s mother and her wealthy second husband. Worried about the boy, the couple asks Champ to let Dink come live with them, offering the boxer money in return. After first hesitating, he agrees to the deal. But on the train journey to New York, Dink runs away. Back in Tijuana, he is in his father’s corner for the Champ’s seemingly hopeless bout against the Mexican champion … King Vidor tells the sentimental tale of a son who must be both mother and father to his own father, without glossing over the societal backdrop. It didn’t hurt that Jackie Cooper, who rose to fame as a leading member of Our Gang, delivered an eminently believable portrayal of childhood misery. Made without visual effects, with very little music, and shot with a documentary touch using natural light, The Champ garnered two Academy Awards – for Best Original Story and Best Actor for Wallace Beery’s performance as Champ.
by King Vidor
With Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Irene Rich, Roscoe Ates, Edward Brophy, Hamilton Hale, Jesse Scott, Marcia Mae Jones, Andy Shuford
USA 1931 English 86’ Black/White, 35 mm

With

  • Wallace Beery
  • Jackie Cooper
  • Irene Rich
  • Roscoe Ates
  • Edward Brophy
  • Hamilton Hale
  • Jesse Scott
  • Marcia Mae Jones
  • Andy Shuford

Crew

DirectorKing Vidor
ScreenplayFrances Marion
DialogueDon Marquis, Leonard Praskins, Wanda Tuchock
CinematographyGordon Avil
EditingHugh Wynn
SoundDouglas Shearer
Art DirectorCedric Gibbons
Assistant DirectorRobert A. Golden
ProducerHarry Rapf

Produced by

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew’s, Inc.) (King Vidor’s production)

Additional information

Print: Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA

King Vidor

Filmography (selection)

1919 The Turn in the Road; Lost film 1925 The Big Parade (Die große Parade) 1928 The Crowd (Ein Mensch der Masse) 1929 Hallelujah 1934 Our Daily Bread (Der letzte Alarm) 1938 The Citadel 1940 Northwest Passage (Nordwest-Passage) 1947 Duel in the Sun (Duell in der Sonne) 1949 The Fountainhead (Ein Mann wie Sprengstoff) 1956 War and Peace (Krieg und Frieden) 1959 Solomon and Sheba (Salomon und die Königin von Saba)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020