Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Wallace Beery won an Academy Award for his tour de force performance as a washed-up boxer. The bibulous Beery travels from one tank-town bout to another in the company of his faithful son Jackie Cooper and his stuttering manager Roscoe Ates. Hoping for a comeback in Tijuana, Beery is approached by his ex-wife Irene Rich, now married to wealthy Hale Hamilton. Rich convinces Beery that Cooper would be better off with her. Feigning brusqueness, Beery orders his son to get lost, hoping that the kid will be disillusioned enough to remain with his mother. But Cooper runs away from his new home and shows up back in Tijuana, just as Beery is in the middle of his comeback bout. Cheered on by his son, Beery knocks his opponent cold--and then collapses himself. Dying, Beery tells the tearful Cooper that everything will be all right if the boy returns to his mom. While Wallace Beery was capable of laying on pathos with a trowel, his final scene in The Champ can still move an audience to tears--far more so than the similar scene between Jon Voight and Rick Schroeder in the wearisome 1979 remake. In 1953, writer Frances Marion updated and revised her Champ script, changed the washed-up pug to a washed-up comedian, and came up with The Clown, one of Red Skelton's few dramatic vehicles.
sports, alcoholism, boxing, champion, comeback, family-strife, father, generation-gap, son