Champion (1949) - Rotten Tomatoes

Champion (1949)

TOMATOMETER

——

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Champion Videos

Champion Photos

Movie Info

In this boxing drama, Kirk Douglas stars as Midge Kelly, a poor, ambitious boy who accidentally learns that he is a "natural" boxer. He wins his early fights with ease and eventually becomes champion of the world. Then rot sets in and almost destroys his life and career.

Watch it now

Cast

Kirk Douglas
as Midge Kelly
Marilyn Maxwell
as Grace Diamond
Ruth Roman
as Emma Bruce
Arthur Kennedy
as Connie Kelly
Paul Stewart
as Tommy Haley
Lola Albright
as Mrs. Harris
Luis Van Rooten
as Jerome Harris
John Day
as Johnny Dunne
Harry Shannon
as Lew Bryce
Esther Howard
as Mrs. Kelly
Show More Cast

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
EmanuelLevy.Com

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

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

Full Review… | May 24, 2003
Film4

Audience Reviews for Champion

½

"Champion" might seem like a another predictable drama at first glance, but it's more thoughtful and darker than you'd expect, and its ending is surprisingly pessimistic. Kirk Douglas gives an imperfect but rousing performance that goes well with a respectable supporting cast, which is headed by the likes of Arthur Kennedy and Paul Stewart. "Champion" is a drama crafted by capable hands, and it's pretty well-made, too.

Stephen Earnest
Stephen Earnest

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
Danny Rovira

Super Reviewer

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

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Champion Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Champion on our Movie forum!

News & Features