Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Champ (1979)

Year 8, Day 152 - 5/31/16 - Movie #2,351

BEFORE:   We spent the better part of yesterday trying to trap a stray cat with the help of a neighbor.  We've had four stray cats living pack-style in our backyard for some time, and recently one has started acting much more friendly, allowing us to pet her, and we figured she might be ready to come indoors.  Also recently the number of cats got reduced from four to three somehow, so that was a reminder that the outdoors aren't completely safe, and we took that as a call to action.  Also, one of the strays has a hurt leg, and our neighbor wants to take him to the vet, so she came over with a humane trap.  

But, since these things rarely go the way you want them to, I figured that the most outgoing cat, not the one with the injury, would be the first one into the trap, and I was right.  So we agreed to adopt her and try to turn her into an indoor cat, which is a process akin to putting Cool Hand Luke into the hot box - we've got her isolated in the bathroom in the basement, with a litter box and food, until she calms down a bit and learns not to be afraid of being indoors.  Eventually we want her to see us not as her captors but as the providers of food and shelter, so really it's like waiting for a version of Stockholm Syndrome to kick in.  And it could take weeks or even months, I've done it several times with good results, here's hoping I can continue my streak.  

Then we have to go through the process of slowly introducing her to our current cat, which may not be easy.  When we took in our last stray, we were unable to get him to live peacefully with the other cat we had, and he was only able to come up from the basement after she passed away.  But here's hoping.

I've reached the end of May, and the end of the Jon Voight chain, as he carries over from "Catch-22".  New link tomorrow.

THE PLOT: Billy Flynn, a former boxing champion, is now horse trainer in Hialeah. He makes just enough money to raise his little boy T.J., over whom he got custody after his wife Annie left him.

AFTER:  Feels like two or more screenplays got joined together - one about horse racing and another about boxing.  Because the more I think about it, the less likely it seems that an ex-boxer would be working at a horse track, the two jobs probably require completely different skill sets.  I could see an ex-boxer working as a bouncer, or a bodyguard, or being a washed-up drunk, but something just doesn't logically follow here.  (I think I'm correct, because Wikipedia refers to this 1979 film as a remake of the 1939 film of the same name, and that film has no horse-racing storyline...)

Especially since the boxing career is introduced at the beginning, as Billy "The Champ" goes to a gym for a meeting with someone who wants him to start boxing again, but said contact doesn't show up on time, so Billy heads to a bar.  But then he's too drunk to go back to the gym, so....is the meeting cancelled?  Apparently it got rescheduled for the last act of the film, because after the horse-racing plot runs its course (so to speak) there's got to be some kind of resolution, and getting back in the ring is just about the only way it can go.  But it's still not all that seamless of a transition. 

In-between, the management of a horse and racing it at Hialeah puts Billy's son in touch with an elegant lady who bets on the horse, and she turns out to have a connection to his dad, and you can probably guess what it is.  That's all a bit too coincidental, I won't say that it CAN'T happen, but the world's a pretty big place, heck, Florida's a pretty big place.  

From an acting standpoint, it's clear to see why the acting debut of Ricky Schroder met with such acclaim, it's because the kid had to do a lot of the heavy lifting - Voight just had to box and act like a drunk, and Dunaway just had to look all moony-eyed while staring at the kid, but the kid had to show emotion.  

Also starring Faye Dunaway (last seen in "Don Juan DeMarco"), Ricky Schroder (last seen in "Broadway Danny Rose"), Jack Warden (last seen in "September"), Arthur Hill, Strother Martin (last seen in "Harper"), Joan Blondell (last seen in "Support Your Local Gunfighter"), Mary Jo Catlett (last seen in "Let's Be Cops"), Dana Elcar, Elisha Cook Jr., Randall "Tex" Cobb (last seen in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective").

RATING: 5 out of 10 betting slips

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