Wallace Beery is mostly identified with the character of Richard, the Lion-Heartcd, which he played in “Robin Hood” and also in a picture of the same name. He is a brother of Noah was also a great character actor in the 30’s & 40’s. Wallace was the first husband of Gloria Swanson.
But what I remember Beery for was his portrayal in the 1931 film, The Champ. I watched this film a few weeks after I had saw the re-make with Jon Voight and Ricky Schroeder. I must say the original was much better. Beery was a powerful presence on the screen, and he made you feel his pain and passion.
Beery plays the alcoholic father, ex-heavyweight champion Andy “Champ” Purcell and despite his frequent binges, his frequent gambling and their squalid living conditions his son, Dink (Jackie Cooper) still adores his father and would do anything for him. Enter the long lost mother, who is now married and has money. Dink goes to live with his mother, but misses his father immensely. Andy, wanting to prove his worth to his son enters one more time in a boxing match.
Directed by one of the best director of the day, King Vidor was beautifully shot, and the intimate closing scenes were by far some of the best directing and acting on screen. Wallace Beery went on that year to tie for the Best Acting Oscar with Fredrick March and Frances Marion won a writing Oscar.
After watching this film, anytime I would see an old Wallace Beery film on TV I would have to sit down and watch it. He was one of the great under-rated actors of his time.