Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Civil War 25th Commemorative Edition DVD & Blu-ray Oct 13Aquarius: The Complete First Season DVD & Blu-ray Sep 15Justified: The Complete Series on Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Surface on DVD, VOD, and DIGITAL HD Sep 1Good Kill on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 1

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Maksim Chmerkovskiy Will Return to 'Dancing With The St...
'The Good Wife' Cush Jumbo Tackles Comparisons...
'Class': 'Doctor Who' Spinoff Series Coming to BBC Thre...
'The Revenant' Trailer: Leonardo DiCaprio Seeks Revenge...
Will Trevor Noah Live Up To The Hype During Monday's 'D...
Watch Eddie Vedder, Beyonce Duet on Bob Marley's 'Redem...
'CSI' being laid to rest after 15 years ...
Big Brother Season 17 Finale Recap: Super Fan & Trombon...
Dancing With the Stars Recap: Bindi Irwin and Derek Hou...
Emmys 2015: Who should win Outstanding Lead Actor in a ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Warner Home Video presents
The Champ (1979)

Billy: A comeback? Comebacks are for has-beens, right?
TJ: Right, Champ!

- Jon Voight, Ricky Schroder

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 08, 2002

Stars: Jon Voight, Ricky Schroder
Other Stars: Faye Dunaway, Jack Warden, Arthur Hill, Elisha Cook, Joan Blondell
Director: Franco Zeffirelli

MPAA Rating: PG for (mild language)
Run Time: 02h:02m:38s
Release Date: July 02, 2002
UPC: 012569523326
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-B-C+ B-

DVD Review

The difference between a really bad tear-jerker and one that works generally comes down to the caliber of performances found within a given film. Hack acting can do little to really sell the often hokey high drama found in this genre, but when the cast is on their game it is easy to get the viewer's waterworks a-flowing. Witness the intended results in this 1979 Franco Zeffirelli remake of the 1931 Wallace Beery/Jackie Cooper classic, in which he substitutes Jon Voight and Ricky Schroder (he wasn't yet "Rick") in the leads.

Voight is the hard-drinking and gambling former boxing champ Billy Flynn, now struggling to eek out a living at a horse track in Florida. In between bouts of the bottle and dice, he's working to raise his eight-year-old son TJ (Ricky Schroder), a tossled-headed little tyke who is remarkably well-adjusted considering his dad (whom he calls "Champ") is a raging booze-hound. The two have one of those oddly idyllic father/son relationships that can only be found in movies, the kind that isn't threatened even when Billy swipes $20 out of his kid's piggy bank to go gambling. Trouble begins brewing when Billy's ex-wife (and TJ's mother), Annie (Faye Dunaway), now remarried to a wealthy doctor, shows up at the track one day and, not surprisingly, takes an interest in the son she never knew.

Zeffirelli, who at the time had a few notable film versions of Shakespeare's works under his belt, also knows how to create an almost operatic level of drama in The Champ, and it works very well here. Even though the wealth and poverty issues between Annie and Billy are hammered out a bit loudly, the script tosses in a few rough dramatic edges to keep the whole thing from becoming too sugary or one-dimensional, with an all-out weeper of a final act.

Even with a solid performance by Voight, and an understated one by Dunaway, The Champ is really all about Schroder. He refrains from the typically cutesy child actor histrionics, and he delivers one of those even-keeled and natural performances that is rarely seen by eight-year-old actors. Sometimes his lines are a little melodramatic, but damn if the kid doesn't milk every ounce of emotion out of them. He cries like a pro, and if you don't get a little misty-eyed at least twice during this film you are simply a cold-hearted cynic, or without a heart completely.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Warner has issued The Champ in a generally solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Given the film's age, the resulting image transfer is largely nick-free, with a few sequences peppered with the occasional white speck. Colors are not overly robust, and tend to run a little soft, a look not so uncommon in late 1970s films. The exterior shots look quite good (particularly the racetrack scenes), but some of the interiors suffer from inadequate black levels and inconsistent fleshtones. Some small compression issues, particularly a bit of shimmer and ringing, is not a major problem.

The majority of this disc looks very respectable, with really only a few small segments marred by apparent image transfer flaws.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track dates this film terribly, and provides little or no enhancement to the viewing experience; in fact it only serves to remind the viewer that they're watching a film from 1979. There is no depth to the sometimes shrill soundfield whatsoever, and the fidelity range is extremely limited resulting in inherent overall flatness.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Jon Voight, Rick Schroder
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Jon Voight and Rick Schroder provide a full-length, scene-specific commentary, and they both admit this is their first time watching the film together. Their reminiscences, dominated primarily by Voight, relate in large part to acting styles and approaches, with a few relevant production anecdotes (many involving improvisation) here and there. The two have a nice rapport (though I found their speaking voices to be very similar), but they don't really shed any deep insight into the film. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Not really, I guess. If you're a real fan of The Champ, I think you'll find this an enjoyable, if not slightly lightweight, commentary. I may be wrong, but I thought I caught Schroder getting a bit choked up during the big, weepy climax, and when he professed to being proud of The Champ, I didn't have any reason to doubt him.

A vacuous and thankfully brief 1979 puff piece entitled On Location With The Champ (06m:47s) trots out Voight and Dunaway to make vague comments, while the bulk of the piece is mostly behind-the-scenes footage, including an abundance of shots of the apparently always smiling Zeffirelli. The jive, deep-voiced announcer is cringe-inducing, by the way.

A theatrical trailer, 29 chapters and subtitles (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese) round out the extras. The back cover states that a trailer for the 1931 original version of The Champ is on this disc, but it couldn't be found.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

There's always room for a decent tear-jerker on my DVD shelf, and The Champ fits that bill handsomely. Even with some of the maudlin heart-yanking machinations orchestrated by Zeffirelli, it is the unbelievably natural performance by little Ricky Schroder that makes this film the emotional treat that it is.

Get out the hankies, boys.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, dancing with the stars, maksim chmerkovskiy, carrie ann inaba, bruno tonioli, julianne hough, the good wife, cush jumbo, archie panjabi, julianna margulies, bbc3, class, doctor who, buffy the vampire slayer, hunger games, steven moffat, brian minchin, movie, the revenant, leonardo dicaprio, tom hardy, alejandro g. inarritu, christmas day release, comedy channel, trevor noah, daily show, jon stewart, music, global citizen festival, pearl jam, byonce, ed sheeran, eddie vedder, cbs, csi, ted danson, elisabeth shue, elisabeth harnois, william petersen, marg helgenberger, big brother, abc, liz, steve, vanessa, julia chen, dr. will, bindi irwin, derek, hough, chaka khan, emmys 2015, laurence fishburne, tracee ellis ross, anthony anderson, will forte, jeffrey tambor, kym johnson, shark tank, robert herjavec, jungle book, cgi, scarlet johansson, bill murray, ben kingsley, idris elba, christopher walken, drama, celebrity apprentice, arnold schwarzenegger, donald trump, nbc, taylor swift, bad blood, emmy award, original interactive program, the late show, stephen colbert, ashley madison, horror, silent, epcot international food & wine festival, walt disney world, the chew, october, celebrity, jimmy fallon, tonight show, dj khaled, all i do is win, country music awards, eric church, little big town, miranda lambert, kenny chesney, sam hunt, maddie & tae, kacey musgraves, chris stapleton, late night, jeb bush, george clooney, war room, straight outta compton, faith-based drama, a walk in the woods, robert redford, september 8, documentary, history, movies, steven spielberg, the bfg, dreamworks, walt disney company, fashion police, melissa rivers, kelly osbourne, giuliana rancic, zendaya, mtv vma, njcki minaj, miley cyrus, anaconda

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store