Tennessee Champ (1954)
APPROVED · 1h 13min · Drama · 5 March 1954
A little B-picture that M-G-M tossed out, barely promoted and forgot about but one that is better than some of the A-dross from Leo in the same era. Shelley Winters, after an absence of 15 months from the screen, is on the down-side of her sexpot days and the upside of her character days and is excellent as the devoted wife trying to keep her larcency-inclined husband on the up-and-up and has more losses than wins in that department; Kennan Wynn is even better as her fight-manager husband and gives a controlled performance as a blustery character, as opposed to the uncontrolled, mail-it-in, over-the-top blustery characters he later played in many westerns; and Earl Holliman as Wynn's harmonica-playing, punch-drunk handyman is dead on the mark. Story, which strays a bit toward the melodramatic in places, concerns a deacon's son,Daniel Norson(Dewey Martin), who thinks he has killed a man in a fight over a girl and goes on the lam. He is picked up by fight manager Willy Wurble (Keenan Wynn)and, since he owns a deadly punch, becomes a successful prize fighter. But his religious background leads him to refuse to take a dive in a fight Willy has fixed, even though he thinks Willy will turn him in on the murder charge. Creditability flies a little out of the window when Daniel discovers the man he is to fight is actually the man he thought he killed. Daniel's devoutness and faith has made Willy a semi-reformed sinner but that may be only because of lack of opportunity at the moment.
- Written by
Director(s): Fred M. WilcoxCast: Dewey Martin, Shelley Winters, Keenan Wynn