Champion (1949)

100 mins | Drama | 20 May 1949

Director:

Mark Robson

Writer:

Carl Foreman

Producer:

Stanley Kramer

Cinematographer:

Frank F. Planer

Editor:

Harry Gerstad

Production Designer:

Rudolph Sternad

Production Company:

Screen Plays II Corp.
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HISTORY

A Jan 1949 NYT news item reported that producer Stanley Kramer had made Champion in twenty-four days for a modest $595,000 as a result of extensive pre-production rehearsal and preparation. According to Kramer, this preparation saved him fourteen days of shooting and at least $150,000. Kirk Douglas was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance. The film won an Oscar for Editing and also received nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Arthur Kennedy), Black and White Cinematography, Screenplay and Music. According to a Jun 1949 Am Cin article, the diner scenes were shot in an actual diner in Santa Monica, CA. As noted in a Mar 1949 DV item, just before Champion was to open, RKO obtained an injunction against the film, claiming that it "was copied largely from and based upon" their film The Set-Up . For a full account of this litigation, please see the entry below for The Set-Up ... More Less

A Jan 1949 NYT news item reported that producer Stanley Kramer had made Champion in twenty-four days for a modest $595,000 as a result of extensive pre-production rehearsal and preparation. According to Kramer, this preparation saved him fourteen days of shooting and at least $150,000. Kirk Douglas was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance. The film won an Oscar for Editing and also received nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Arthur Kennedy), Black and White Cinematography, Screenplay and Music. According to a Jun 1949 Am Cin article, the diner scenes were shot in an actual diner in Santa Monica, CA. As noted in a Mar 1949 DV item, just before Champion was to open, RKO obtained an injunction against the film, claiming that it "was copied largely from and based upon" their film The Set-Up . For a full account of this litigation, please see the entry below for The Set-Up . More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jun 49
pp. 196-97, 216-18.
Box Office
19 Mar 1949.
---
Daily Variety
14 Mar 49
p. 3.
Daily Variety
23 Mar 49
p. 1, 10
Down Beat
30 Jun 50
p. 8.
Film Daily
14 Mar 49
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 48
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 49
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Mar 49
pp. 4537-38.
New York Times
16 Jan 1949.
---
New York Times
11 Apr 49
p. 29.
Variety
16 Mar 49
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Men's ward
Ladies' ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Tech adv
Boxing coach
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Champion" by Ring Lardner in Metropolitan (Oct 1916).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Never Be It Said," music and lyrics by Dimitri Tiomkin and "Goldie" Goldmark.
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 May 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 April 1949
Production Date:
early November--early December 1948 at Motion Pictures Center Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Screen Plays II Corp.
Copyright Date:
9 February 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2185
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
100
Length(in feet):
8,979
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13642
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As popular champion boxer Midge Kelly enters the ring to defend his title, his career is recalled: While riding a railroad boxcar toward California, where they have bought a third interest in a diner, Midge and his partially disabled brother Connie are robbed and ejected from the train. The next morning, Midge and Connie meet boxer Johnny Dunne and his girl friend, Grace Diamond, who give them a ride to Kansas City. When they arrive there, Dunne suggests that they could get jobs as concession salesmen at his fight that night. However, the refreshment manager does not want them and, when he calls Connie "gimp," Midge attacks him. Meanwhile, promoter Hammond learns that one of his boxers cannot fight due to an injury and realizes that Midge could be a substitute fighter in a bout in which he will be "carried" by his opponent. Hammond promises Midge thirty-five dollars and he survives a beating for the four-round bout. After the fight, Los Angeles manager Tommy Haley approaches Midge and offers to manage him, stating that while Midge has no great boxing ability, he does have "guts." Midge declines the offer and he and Connie eventually reach the diner in Malibu. They soon discover that their "partner" did not own the diner but was merely an employee, and has since been fired by owner Lew Bryce. Lew nonetheless hires Midge and Connie and gives them room and board, but warns them to stay away from his daughter Emma, who works as his waitress. Later, however, Midge invites Emma for a swim after work and a romance develops. When Emma brings up the subject of marriage, she discovers that Midge is ... +


As popular champion boxer Midge Kelly enters the ring to defend his title, his career is recalled: While riding a railroad boxcar toward California, where they have bought a third interest in a diner, Midge and his partially disabled brother Connie are robbed and ejected from the train. The next morning, Midge and Connie meet boxer Johnny Dunne and his girl friend, Grace Diamond, who give them a ride to Kansas City. When they arrive there, Dunne suggests that they could get jobs as concession salesmen at his fight that night. However, the refreshment manager does not want them and, when he calls Connie "gimp," Midge attacks him. Meanwhile, promoter Hammond learns that one of his boxers cannot fight due to an injury and realizes that Midge could be a substitute fighter in a bout in which he will be "carried" by his opponent. Hammond promises Midge thirty-five dollars and he survives a beating for the four-round bout. After the fight, Los Angeles manager Tommy Haley approaches Midge and offers to manage him, stating that while Midge has no great boxing ability, he does have "guts." Midge declines the offer and he and Connie eventually reach the diner in Malibu. They soon discover that their "partner" did not own the diner but was merely an employee, and has since been fired by owner Lew Bryce. Lew nonetheless hires Midge and Connie and gives them room and board, but warns them to stay away from his daughter Emma, who works as his waitress. Later, however, Midge invites Emma for a swim after work and a romance develops. When Emma brings up the subject of marriage, she discovers that Midge is not considering it, as he cannot support her. However, Lew discovers them together and, at gunpoint, forces them to marry. Immediately thereafter, Midge leaves with Connie. Needing work, they find the now retired Haley at a gym, and although he warns them about the dangers of the boxing business, Midge persuades Haley to become his manager. In his first fight, the well-trained Midge easily knocks out his opponent. Connie does not like Midge's new brutal and ambitious behavior and suggests that he quit, but Midge will not consider that. After several more successful fights, Midge buys an apartment for his mother and, over the next two years, works his way up the rankings until he earns a chance to fight the number one contender, Johnny Dunne. Haley then tells him that he must lose to Dunne, who will then go on to take the title, but that in a year or so, he will get a legitimate shot at the championship. Midge agrees to go along, but knocks Dunne out in the first round. After the fight, Midge, Connie and Haley are attacked by several thugs working for the gamblers who control the boxing racket. Later, Midge receives a phone call from the gold-digging Grace, who has decided to switch her affections to him. Unknown to Midge, she is working for Dunne's manager, impresario Jerome Harris, and assures him that she can persuade Midge to change managers. Grace then plays "hard-to-get" with Midge, but offers to stay with him if he drops Haley as his manager. When he does so, both Haley and Connie are disappointed and Connie walks out. Later, Connie goes looking for Emma and finds her working as a cocktail waitress. She has not divorced Midge and tells Connie that she is still interested in him and agrees to accompany Connie to Chicago to see his ailing mother. After Midge becomes the new champion, he begins an affair with Harris' wife Palmer, an amateur sculptor. Jealous, Grace insists that Midge marry her, but he tells her that he already has a wife. In Chicago, meanwhile, Emma realizes that she no longer loves Midge and now is in love with Connie. Midge learns from Harris, to whom he owes a lot of money, that he is to defend his title against Dunne, who has made a great comeback. Harris offers to forgive Midge's debt, tear up their contract and give him the entire purse from the fight, but only if he agrees to stop his affair with Palmer. When Midge accepts, Palmer is disillusioned. After Midge learns that his mother is dying, he asks Haley to train him for the fight, and Haley agrees to return in exchange for a third share. Midge then heads for Chicago, but arrives too late to see his mother. When Connie tells him that he and Emma intend to get married, Midge appears to be pleased and asks Connie to come back and help him prepare for the fight. At the training camp, however, Midge forces himself on Emma. Just before the fight, Connie tells Midge that Emma has left and that he stinks from corruption, then hits him. Midge slugs him back, but Connie recovers and goes to watch the fight. Dunne suffers an early knockdown, but revives and takes control of the fight. Although Midge is knocked down twice and suffers a badly cut eye, he refuses to throw in the towel and manages to knock out Dunne and retain the championship. In the dressing room, Midge is obviously punchy and imagines that he is back at the start of his boxing career, then collapses. Emma arrives at the arena in time to hear Haley announce to the press that Midge has died of a brain hemorrhage. Before walking off with Emma, Connie dourly informs the reporters, "He was a champion. He went out like a champion. He was a credit to the fight game to the very end." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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