7.8/10
6,225
72 user 41 critic

The Set-Up (1949)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Sport | 2 April 1949 (USA)
Because aging boxer Bill Thompson always lost his past fights, his corrupt manager, without telling Thompson, takes bribes from a betting gangster, to ensure Thompson's pre-arranged dive-loss in the next match.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (from the poem by)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crossfire (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A man is murdered, apparently by one of a group of soldiers just out of the army. But which one? And why?

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The rise and fall of Stanton Carlisle, a mentalist whose lies and deceit prove to be his downfall.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray
Brute Force (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford
The Big Clock (1948)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When powerful publishing tycoon Earl Janoth commits an act of murder at the height of passion, he cleverly begins to cover his tracks and frame an innocent man whose identity he doesn't ... See full summary »

Director: John Farrow
Stars: Ray Milland, Maureen O'Sullivan, Charles Laughton
Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A woman planning to testify against the mob must be protected against their assassins on the train trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White
Gun Crazy (1950)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A well meaning crack shot husband is pressured by his beautiful marksman wife to go on an interstate robbery spree, where he finds out just how depraved and deadly she really is.

Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Stars: John Dall, Peggy Cummins, Berry Kroeger
Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A war-veteran-turned-truck driver attempts to avenge the crippling and robbing of his father at the hands of an amoral produce scofflaw.

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb
Body and Soul (1947)
Drama | Film-Noir | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Charley Davis wins an amateur boxing match and is taken on by promoter Quinn. Charley's mother doesn't want him to fight, but when Charley's father is accidentally killed, Charley sets up a... See full summary »

Director: Robert Rossen
Stars: John Garfield, Lilli Palmer, Hazel Brooks
Certificate: Passed Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An embittered, vengeful POW stalks his former commanding officer who betrayed his men's planned escape attempt from a Nazi prison camp.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh
Criss Cross (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An armored truck driver and his lovely ex-wife conspire with a gang to have his own truck robbed on the route.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon wants to be something his old man wasn't: a guy on the right side of the law. But Dixon's vicious nature will get the better of him.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill
Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a man in mid-life crisis befriends a young woman, her venal fiancé persuades her to con him out of the fortune they mistakenly assume he possesses.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
Gus
...
Red
...
Tiger Nelson (as Hal Fieberling)
...
Shanley
...
Moore (as Kenny O'Morrison)
James Edwards ...
Luther Hawkins
...
Gunboat Johnson
Phillip Pine ...
Souza
...
Danny
Edit

Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Film-Noir | Sport

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 April 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El luchador  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Wise wanted to remain faithful to the original poem The Set-Up was based on and he was keen on casting Canada Lee, a former boxer turned actor who previously appeared in Body and Soul (1947). RKO vetoed the idea since at that point a black actor never played the lead in major Hollywood film. See more »

Goofs

During the fight, a man in front of Little Boy and his girlfriend bets $20 with his companion that Stoker will "go the distance". Little Boy's girl takes him up on the bet. Later the man says "I still say it will go the limit". Little Boy's girl bets him $100 that it won't. When the fight ends with Stoker the winner by a knockout, Little Boy's girl pays off the bets at Little Boy's insistence. But the fight did not go the distance - a decision by the judges. So Little Boy's girl was a winner, not a loser, even though the wrong guy got knocked out. See more »

Quotes

Stoker: Yeah, top spot. And I'm just one punch away.
Julie: I remember the first time you told me that. You were just one punch away from the title shot then. Don't you see, Bill, you'll always be just one punch away.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sports on the Silver Screen (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Sidewalk Boogie
(uncredited)
Music by Roy Webb
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Knockout
10 August 2002 | by (brighton, ma) – See all my reviews

This is an awfully hard and brutal movie, produced at the end of the brief, rather high end Dore Schary regime at RKO (1946-48), just prior to Howard Hughes' purchase of the studio, which led to the company's slow, agonizing decline that forced it, or rather its new owners, to close it down ten years later. It's the story of an aging boxer, over the hill but still harboring a measure of optimism, really a sort of pride. In this tragic role Robert Ryan is superb. Tough, compassionate, deeply ethical, realistic, and yet with just enough of the dreamer in him to keep him emotionally afloat, Stoker Thompson represents the best qualities of the so-called common man. In an earlier, more heroic age, he might have been a knight; but alas we do not live in such a time, thus his personal qualities go unnoticed by all but his wife. In this role, Audrey Totter is almost as good as Ryan. Some of her scenes are unforgettable, as when she tears up the ticket to her husband's fight and throws it over the bridge into the steam of an oncoming train; or when she watches a bunch of silly teenagers "play" at boxing with a couple of performing puppets, which at first amuses her, then horrify her when she realizes her own and her husband's fate in this little "play" scene.

The film is a masterpiece of design and composition. Director Robert Wise never made a better picture than this. The movie, like High Noon, plays out in real time, and as a result has an air of urgency to it. Adapted from a poem by Joseph Moncure March, which tells essentially the same story, but with the main character a black man, Wise and scenarist Art Cohn take considerable liberties here that purists' might not care for. In the poem the setting is New York, while in the movie it's a tank town called Paradise City, a far cry from New York even if it's in fact less than a hundred miles away, upstate, or in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. The film never makes this clear. Here and there hints are dropped that the setting might be California. It doesn't matter. The Paradise City boxing arena is a place for young guys on their way up and old guys on their way down. It's a million miles from Madison Square Garden, and that's all that counts.

The film's settings are beautifully realized; and Milton Krasner's photography is no less brilliant. The central street, all blinking lights, and yet shadowy and black in odd places, is a perfect visual metaphor for the action of the film; while seldom have the denizens of a small city looked more menacing. Men in garish ties and fedoras jostle each other on the sidewalk as they pass by. They are a hard, apathetic breed, and hungry for sensation. Inside the arena we see humanity at its least admirable, as there is an undercurrent of sadism in even the most innocuous-seeming fight fans, such as a blind man ("go for his eyes!). We sense that these people come not so much to see a favorite boxer win as a hapless boxer lose.

In the center of all this is Stoker, a man with character surrounded by people who couldn't care less. As his handlers, a porcine, toothpick-chewing Percy Helton, and a thick-witted George Tobias, are superb. In a somewhat smaller role, Edwin Max, in pinstripe suit, with pencil-line mustache's, and what look like three soggy Salada tea bags under each eye, is visually perfect as a small-time something, not even hood, just a guy who runs around and does things for the big guy, played by Alan Baxter, a sort of anti-Stoker, a man without qualities who goes to great lengths to show that he has class and principles, when in fact he has neither. The man is a monster, and he doesn't even have guts. When Stoker punches him in the face he lets his goons do the dirty work.

The interior lives of the two main characters in this film suggest an affinity with the humanistic stoicism Hemingway, while the surface is closer to Weegee and Walker Evans. Overall, though, the movie is pure RKO; its courage-in-the-face-of-adversity theme suggests, almost uncannily, this odd man out among the major studios' history and future, and the best qualities of those who worked there.


77 of 90 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?