Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Champion (1949)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Champion (1949)

In director Mark Robson's (and producer Stanley Kramer) archetypal, film-noirish sports film, one of the best films about boxing and prize fighting, and a cautionary tale about its main protagonist:

  • the character of brutal, arrogant, deceptive and savage prizefighter Michael 'Midge' Kelly (Oscar-nominated Kirk Douglas), and the intense scenes of his training (a pre-Rocky sequence) and boxing matches
  • Midge's affair and break-up with cheating, gold-digging, tough blonde Gracie Diamond (Marilyn Maxwell), boxer Johnny Dunne's (John Daheim) opportunistic girlfriend, who was demanding that they get married - and his blunt admission: ("You got as much chance of marrying me tomorrow as today. And that's no chance at all because, uh, guess what, I'm already married...I ain't kiddin'. I'm not kiddin' ya."); she retaliated: "You've been takin' me for a sucker all this time" but then begged to be with him: "You're not gonna shake me now" although he immediately dumped her: ("You'd better promote yourself another meal ticket...Why don't you call up Johnny Dunne?") and he physically threatened her to not make a stink: ("Oh no, you're gonna be a good little girl, 'cause if you aren't, I'll put ya in the hospital for a long, long time")
  • the night before the climactic boxing match ending, the scene of Midge's conjugal rape of his estranged, abandoned and wary wife Emma Bryce (Ruth Roman) when he pushed himself on her and dared her to kiss him: ("You always take off every time I come near ya....You still hate me, don't ya?...You're afraid of me...Then kiss me goodbye!...Afraid?"); after they kissed, he noted: ("It's still there, isn't it?...You're my wife") and the screen went to black
  • the brutal confrontation in the locker room before the final fight when Midge's brother Connie Kelly (Arthur Kennedy), who was dating Emma, accused Midge of being cold-blooded and taking advantage of Emma: "You're no different. You're only worse. Your blood has turned cold...My number finally came up too, didn't it? And Emma, once wasn't enough for ya. You couldn't let her live and be happy, could ya? Why did you do it!? Because you were bored? Your chance to prove to yourself that you were really the champion? Ya stink! Ya stink from corruption. You're worse than a murderer. You're a grave-robber!"
  • the concluding and exciting 12-round boxing fight between perennial challenger Johnny Dunne and Midge - who was punished and refused to quit after 11 rounds and won a knock-out in the final round with "raw courage" and a surge of angry energy after eyeing the jeering crowd (and hearing a ringside announcer's assessment of the end of his career: "I think it's all over. Kelly's through, he's all through. He's totally washed up, he's finished. We're getting a new champion tonight!")
  • Midge's triumphant glory speech to himself and trainer Tommy Haley (Paul Stewart) in the locker room following his ferocious victory: ("Did you hear that crowd? For the first time in my life, people cheering for me. Were you deaf? Did ya hear 'em? We're not hitchhiking any more. We're riding!")
  • Midge's collapse and expiration in the locker room of a cerebral hemorrhage- and an announcement of the diagnosis: ("He's dead. Brain hemorrhage")
  • Connie's back-handed, complimentary eulogy for Midge, delivered to a reporter as Emma stood next to him (the two were now free to marry after seeking a divorce in Reno): "You want a statement from me, huh? All right. I'll give ya a statement. He was a champion. He went out like a champion. He was a credit to the fight game, to the very end" - the film's final line of dialogue

'Midge' Kelly
(Kirk Douglas)

Gracie Diamond
(Marilyn Maxwell)

Emma Bryce
(Ruth Roman)

Connie Kelly (Arthur Kennedy) to Midge: "Ya stink!"

Connie's Eulogy to Midge: "He was a champion"


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