Keenan Wynn from the trailer
|Directed by||Fred M. Wilcox|
|Produced by||Sol Baer Fielding|
|Written by||Art Cohn, Eustace Cockrell (story)|
|Based on||The Lord in his corner|
|Music by||Conrad Salinger|
|Edited by||Ben Lewis|
|Running time||73 minutes|
Tennessee Champ is a 1954 drama with strong Christian overtones starring Shelley Winters, Keenan Wynn, Dewey Martin, and Charles Bronson (credited as Charles Buchinsky), and directed by Fred M. Wilcox.
Mounted as a title to fill out double and triple bills (a B-movie), Tennessee Champ was one of several films Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer shot in its pet process of Ansco Color, a ruddy-looking process employed on the same year's Brigadoon.
Tennessee Champ marked a return to Hollywood for star Shelley Winters, who hadn't appeared in a film in almost two years due to her marriage to Vittorio Gassman (which ended in June 1954) and the birth of their child, Vittoria. The lull came just as she seemed to be on an upswing after roles in Winchester '73 (1950), Phone Call from a Stranger (1952), and her breakthrough tragic performance in A Place in the Sun (1951).
Shelley Winters plays Sarah Wurble, whose husband, Willy (Keenan Wynn), is the larceny-inclined manager of an illiterate, and very religious boxer from Tennessee named Danny Norson (Dewey Martin). Gifted with a powerful punch and a nickname that gives the film its title, Danny mistakenly believes he killed a man defending himself in a street brawl, and goes on the lam as a prizefighter. His Christian convictions turn out to be both a source of inspiration and, ultimately, conflict when Willy urges him to throw a fight (while mistakenly fearing Willy will turn him in on the murder charge if he doesn't). Credulity flies out of the window when Danny discovers the man he is to take on in the fixed fight is actually the man he thought he killed, Sixty Jubel, The 'Biloxi Blockbuster' (Charles Bronson). Danny's example of unwavering faith causes Willy to rethink his sinful ways.
According to MGM records the movie earned $555,000 in the US and Canada and $214,000 elsewhere, making a loss to the studio of $189,000.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
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