Champion (1949)



No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Based on a Ring Lardner story, Champion is considered to be one of the finest boxing dramas ever made. The story centers on the struggle of Midge Kelly (Kirk Douglas in one of his strongest roles) to make it from unemployed wanderer to the middleweight champion of the world. His long, trouble-fraught road begins when he and his brother decide to travel across the country via train to California where they plan to run a diner. Unfortunately, they are beaten up by vagabonds and thrown off the … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Carl Foreman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 22, 2013


as Midge Kelly

as Grace Diamond

as Emma Bruce

as Connie Kelly

as Tommy Haley

as Mrs. Harris

as Jerome Harris

as Johnny Dunne

as Lew Bryce

as Mrs. Kelly
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Champion

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (2)

The Set-Up, made the same year, is infinitely superior.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Kirk Douglas does a good, aggressive job, with a slight inclination to over-eagerness at times, which might amuse an old fight fan.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

In his first Oscar nomination in Mark Robson's compelling melodrama, Kirk Douglas gives a ferociously realistic performance as a boxer determined to succeed at all costs.

Full Review… | July 6, 2005

One of the best fight films ever, also one of Kirk's best

October 23, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Robson's direction is all action, wasting no time in telling this compelling story, and Carl Foreman's script is sharply observant of the boxing milieu.

Full Review… | July 30, 2003
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Douglas is so perfect in the role that the movie is never less than gripping.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003

Audience Reviews for Champion

The best boxing movie you've never heard of. Kirk Douglas is under the radar but at the top of his game.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Yeah...I enjoyed Kirk Douglas in many roles but I didn't particularly enjoy his turn as a fighter.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

A taut and atmospheric classic that has long been considered one of the best boxing films ever made. It is a stark and gripping character study that concerns the rise and fall of a unscrupulous boxing champion Midge Kelly, played brilliantly by Kirk Douglas in his breakout Oscar nominated star-making performance, who began as a know-nothing beginner, but because of his underprivileged life as a youth, which has given him a persecution complex, that drives his relentless ambition, it soon makes him into a natural and fearsome boxer, who rockets to the top of his sport, to become the middleweight champion of the world, but fame and wealth quickly seduce what was already a man with serious issues to began with, he alienates and thrusts aside everyone around him, including his beloved crippled brother Connie, played impressively by Arthur Kennedy in a Oscar nominated turn and the three women in his life that he uses, than discards, wonderful played by Lola Albright, Marilyn Stewart, and Ruth Roman. His quiet, knowing manager Tommy Haley, very aptly played by Paul Stewart who helped build him up into a world class fighter, he also betrays. Kelly is such a cruel, selfish, contemptible and self-destructive bastard, that the dark and tragic ending will surprise no one, but the engrossing Oscar nominated screenplay and Douglas's powerful virtuoso performance will keep your eyes glued to the screen all the way until it reaches that end. Astute direction by Mark Robson, sharp Oscar winning editing by Harry W. Gestad, with sensational black & white cinematography by Franz Planer, which makes spectacular use of light and shadow, excellent fight scenes that are very well-staged, and realistically brutal. An outstanding melodrama which earned 6 Academy Awards including Best Actor: Kirk Douglas, Best Supporting Actor: Arthur Kennedy, Best Adapted Screenplay: Carl Foreman, Best Score: Dimitri Tiomkin, Best Editing: Harry W. Gestad. Highly Recommended.

Danny Rovira

Super Reviewer

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