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The Set-Up (1949)

Approved  |   |  Film-Noir, Sport  |  2 April 1949 (USA)
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Over-the-hill boxer Bill 'Stoker' Thompson insists he can still win, though his sexy wife Julie pleads with him to quit. But his manager Tiny is so confident he will lose, he takes money ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Audrey Totter ...
Alan Baxter ...
Percy Helton ...
Hal Baylor ...
Tiger Nelson (as Hal Fieberling)
Kenny O'Morrison ...
James Edwards ...
Luther Hawkins
Gunboat Johnson
Phillip Pine ...
Edwin Max ...


Over-the-hill boxer Bill 'Stoker' Thompson insists he can still win, though his sexy wife Julie pleads with him to quit. But his manager Tiny is so confident he will lose, he takes money for a "dive" from tough gambler Little Boy...without bothering to tell Stoker. Tension builds as Stoker hopes to "take" Tiger Nelson, unaware of what will happen to him if he does. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


I Want a Man... Not a Human Punching Bag! See more »


Film-Noir | Sport


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 April 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El luchador  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Released in France under the title "We Have Won Tonight". See more »


When Stoker is laying on the dressing room table after the fight, the position of Gus's "Love" magazine, located above Stoker's head, changes from the medium shot to the closeup. See more »


Red: I tell you, Tiny, you gotta let him in on it.
Tiny: How many times I gotta say it? There's no percentage in smartenin' up a chump.
See more »


Featured in Boxing at the Movies: Kings of the Ring (2013) See more »


"Paradise (1931) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Played in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

Running On Pride
13 August 2010 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

If your taste runs to happy endings and beautiful people than stay away from The Set-Up. But if gritty and realistic drama is your taste you can't do better than this noir classic about the world of boxing. The Set-Up anticipated Rod Serling's Requiem For a Heavyweight by a decade as it deals with the same issues about a boxer at the end of his career.

Anthony Quinn might very well have seen Robert Ryan in The Set-Up when he played Mountain Rivera in Requiem For A Heavyweight. Rod Serling must have seen it as well. Both films deal with a boxer at the end of his career, but who has a lot of pride. Manager George Tobias and trainer Percy Helton get an offer from gambler Alan Baxter who is backing an up and coming heavyweight contender Hal Baylor. Ryan is just another step up the ladder, a ladder when Ryan was younger he was climbing. Tobias and Helton agree to take a dive, but no one can broach the subject to Ryan.

Which sets it all up for the final match and the aftermath where Ryan betrayed by all hangs in on nerve and pride alone. What happens afterward is for you to view, but don't expect the same kind of resolution that Requiem For A Heavyweight gave.

A really big surprise here are George Tobias and Percy Helton who normally play comic parts are quite serious here as a pair of fight game characters. The performances are so atypical of the work you've come to expect from both.

Ryan's amateur boxing career no doubt stood him in good stead for this role. He makes a rugged looking boxer who's been through the ring wars over and over again. That helps him in this latest encounter.

The sets are gritty and realistic, in fact I've never seen an urban area done so well until Otto Preminger's The Man With The Golden Arm debuted six years later. Preminger also might have been influenced by The Set-Up when he made his classic.

Although unnoticed at first, The Set-Up has slowly built a reputation as one of the great noir films out of RKO and one of the best boxing films ever made. For myself it certainly influenced a lot of people.

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