Franco Zeffirelli’s 1979 sentimental remake of THE CHAMP may have divided critics upon its original release, but the film became a box office hit, and more than succeeded in tugging at a few heartstrings. Jon Voight played the title role, with Faye Dunaway as his ex-wife…but it was little Ricky Schroeder, making his film debut, who stole the movie. For my money, his is one of the greatest child performances ever captured on film.
I dare any grown man to watch the film’s finale and (SPOILER ALERT!!!) not shed a tear by the end credits. Don’t believe me? Click here and see for yourself. And I’m not the only one. A 1988 study by psychologists, involving more than 250 film clips shown to 500 people, deemed the film’s last three minutes as the saddest in film history. Of course, that study did not include the first few minutes of Pixar’s UP, released in 2009.
While Richard Amsel’s beautiful poster illustration was used in several foreign markets, it was inexplicably ignored in the USA in favor of...sigh...yet another generic photo montage. Here is a high resolution image I had made from a photo transparency of the original artwork:
Here is an alternate polished color final, which was not used:
Also pictured are a number of preliminary sketches: