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HTF REVIEW: "The Champ" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 25, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Champ

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1979
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 123 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)

    "The day a man can't take off
    his own pants he ain't a man"

    There are some firsts I distinctly remember
    such as the very first time I cried at the end
    of a movie. That was in 1979 when I first saw
    The Champ. Watching this film on DVD
    over 30 years later, I still get lumps in my
    throat. This is a powerhouse of a movie that
    hasn't lost its effect on me thanks mostly to
    the performance of young Ricky Shroder. More
    on that in a moment.
    Billy Flynn (Jon Voight) was one of the most
    well known boxers of his time. His time, however,
    has been over for nearly a decade. Now working on a
    race-track and raising his eight year old boy,
    TJ (Ricky Schroder) alone, Billy is finding life
    a lot tougher to cope with. He's constantly in
    debt thanks to his gambling addiction, and he's
    been known to drink more than he should.
    TJ's mother (Faye Dunaway), is an upper-class
    woman whose now remarried. She meets her little
    boy by chance at a race meeting one afternoon.
    Though Billy is outraged that the boy's Mother
    wants back into his boy's life, he finds the
    strong relationship he had with his boy slowly
    drifting away.
    In order to compete with the extravagant lifestyle
    of the boy's Mother, Billy opts for a huge payroll
    to get back in the ring one last time.
    The Champ succeeds as one of the most
    memorable movies of its kind due to the superb
    script and involving story. Most of all, you
    can't take your eyes off the adorable Ricky
    Schroder who doesn't cease to move you in every
    scene he appears. His performance won him a Golden
    Globe award for Male New Star of the Year.
    How is the transfer?
    Generally speaking, The Champ looks pretty
    decent, though the transfer still shows this film's
    age. Though the print quality is quite good, the
    picture looks a bit hazy, as if shot through cloth.
    Skin tones don't look natural containing more of a
    reddish tint. There's also a problem with excessive
    video noise in most of the scenes involving blue
    sky -- most noticeably in a scene where Voight is
    walking down a boardwalk. Still, through all of
    these slight imperfections, the blues of Shroder's
    eyes still peak through.
    The Dolby Surround stereo is adequate. What you
    hear in the surrounds is mostly the film's musical
    score that comes across as loudly in the rears as
    it does across the front. There is also the
    occasional noise of the crowd at the racetrack.
    The sound of a roaring crowd comes across quite
    well in the rears during the final boxing match.
    What you don't get, however, is true enveloping
    surround such as during a rainstorm where most
    all the sound remains up front.
    Special Features
    A wonderful addition to this DVD package
    is a full-length commentary by Jon Voight
    and Rick Shroder. Never having watched this
    film together until now, the two give a very
    upbeat commentary. The two talk about the many
    Zeffirelli shots and the care that the Director
    put into giving the film a specialized look.
    Rick recalls how the studio was doing some hard
    negotiating with his Mother, but his Mother stood
    steadfast and Ricky made the picture with zero
    commitment to the studio (the studio wanted a
    7 year deal). Shroder tells a story later in
    the film where he was set up by Voight in order
    to properly emit emotion in the prison scene.
    This setup became a sort of memorable traumatic
    moment for the young actor. The two actors have
    such a great time together, laughing through most
    of the improvisations that were captured on film.
    On Location with The Champ is an original
    featurette from 1979. As the featurette begins,
    we are introduced to the Director Franco Zeffirelli,
    as you watch him direct several quick shots. On
    Location, Michael Voight talks briefly about his
    character, Billy Flynn. We learn that 2,000
    children were interviewed before the part of TJ
    was given to Ricky Shroder. Faye Dunaway briefly
    talks about what it was like to work with a child
    actor. Voight and Dunaway talk about what makes
    Zeffirelli such a gifted Director. We go behind
    the scenes and watch the fashion show and fight
    sequences being staged.
    (length: approx. 6.5 minutes)
    A Cast and Crew filmography is included
    as well as a screen dedicated to the Awards
    that the film garnered.
    Rounding out the extras is the inclusion of
    the film's original theatrical trailer.
    The DVD box suggests that the trailer for the
    original 1931 film is included -- but it was
    nowhere to be found.
    Final Thoughts
    There are so many reasons why The Champ
    has remained so memorable to me as I am sure
    to the many of you raeding this review. It's one
    of those great instances when the bonding between
    parent and child on-screen comes across as being
    so believable and touching.
    Buy it and be prepared to cry.
    Release Date: July 9th, 2002
  2. Don_Houle

    Don_Houle Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 26, 2002
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    Northwestern New Jersey
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    Ah, The Champ!

    Thanks for the review, Ron!

    My mom brought my sister and I to see this film when I was 9 years old and I remember the three of us crying like babies!

    I look forward to getting teary eyed again after all these years!
  3. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

    May 24, 2001
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    awesome! I've been excited about hearing the reunion commentary ever since this title was announced a while back.
  4. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

    Jun 18, 2001
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