Champions

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Into those purple areas where fiction quails to go, Real Life occasionally ventures unabashed. Once launched on its grimly portentous way (in Great Medical Clichés of the Movies, 'That's a nasty cough' has finally been usurped by 'What does your doctor say about that swelling?'), the story of jockey Bob Champion (Hurt), his fight against cancer, and his subsequent ride to glory in the Grand National, steers a careful path between celebration of courage and avoidance of hagiography. Indeed, Champion is portrayed in distinctly unflattering terms: stubborn, bloody-minded, and a rotter to his long-standing girl-friend. It's all efficiently done, and the slow-motion climax can scarcely fail to stuff the requisite frog down the gullet. Nevertheless, one can't help wishing that a director of Irvin's calibre would tackle more testing material than this.

Release details

Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Irwin
Screenwriter: Evan Jones
Cast: John Hurt
Edward Woodward
Ben Johnson
Jan Francis
Peter Barkworth
Ann Bell
Judy Parfitt
Alison Steadman
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