The Olympic Champ

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: Jack Kinney

  • George Johnson — Goofy (voice)
  • John McLeish — narrator

Walt Disney: 1942
7 minutes

September 2008


The Olympic Champ is one of a series of Disney one-reeler animated movies about sports, with Goofy as Everyman: a plucky athlete but prone to hilarious track and field disasters. Goofy's carrying the Olympic Torch in the Greek tradition — but around the world as in the modern Olympic Games — illustrates his great spirit but also the likelihood of eventual flameout.

Goofy is not competing here, but singly demonstrating various sports: running, hurdles, discus, hammer, pole vault. The Decathlon is a ten-fold challenge, the measure of a true all-around athlete; or of course, the risk of ten-fold chaos.

Narrator John McLeish provides the perfect contrasting persona to Goofy's athletic demonstrations, tying the whole together with a tone of imperturbable expertise. McLeish even rings in Tennyson at the ideally suspenseful moment.

Oftentimes the experts competing in the Olympics make their sports look easy; as even the losing competitors, even those not qualifying for the final trials, are superbly honed and skilled athletes in the best Classical sense. In these hopeful attempts of Goofy in The Olympic Champ, which shine only in enthusiasm, we can enjoy even the common ground from which those real athletic peaks arise.


© 2008 Robert Wilfred Franson

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