After 17 years as a recognized and respected sports journalist in New York City, Eddie Willis finds himself out of a job when his newspaper folds. He's approached by a major fight promoter, Nick Benko, to act as a public relations man for his new heavyweight fighter Toro Moreno. Eddie knows the how the fight game works and after watching Toro in the ring, realizes Toro is nothing but a stiff who has no hope of succeeding. Benko offers him a sizable salary and an unlimited expense account and given his financial situation, he agrees. Benko's strategy to make money is one that has been used time again. Starting in California and moving east, they arrange a series of fights for Toro with stiffs and has-beens. All of the fights are rigged to build up his record and get him a fight with the heavyweight champion, Buddy Brannen, where they will make a sizable profit at the gate. Along the way, one boxer gets killed in the ring and Eddie begins to have serious doubts about what he is doing. Written by
Joe Greb has a small and uncredited role as a brain-damaged boxer who gives an interview about the damaging effects of the sport. In reality, Greb had a 12 year career as a boxer and fought in 119 bouts during that period. Greb suffered irreparable brain damage from his time as a boxer and was a vocal proponent of fighter safety. In essence, he plays himself in this film. See more »
A TV sportscaster's man-on-the-street interview with a punch-drunk fighter filmed on location on Skid Row features multiple camera angles (long shot, middle shot and close-ups) - a technological luxury requiring three consecutively-rolling cameras no TV news station in the mid-Fifties could possibly have afforded. See more »
What gives, Eddie? I looked up Toro in the book. There's no record of him in South America.
He knocked out thirty-eight guys in a row. None of them went over three rounds. You believe that one and I'll tell you another.
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Eddie Willis(Humphrey Bogart) is a down on his luck boxing critic who has just lost job when his newspaper goes bust. Nick Benko(Rod Steiger) a crooked boxing promoter hears of this and invites Eddie over to discuss some business,Benko wants him to use his press connections to promote his new boxer the Argentinian Toro Moreno,a brute of a man but with little or no talent for boxing.Eddie laughs off Moreno's chances in a ring with anyone, but as Benko later explains the fights are going to be fixed and Edie can have a percentage of the takings. A more hard hitting and gritty boxing drama you might find hard to find, the film really exposes the seedy under belly of the sport with all its corruption and vices. Its often been mooted that Bogart's last screen role was possibly his best and I can see why, there is a depth in his character that was not always there in some of his roles, Steiger too is phenomenal as in fact are the whole cast. Robson's direction is always assured and the pacing is nigh on perfect. A word too for Burnett Guffey's cinematography which captures the wonderful locations and fight scenes beautifully.A Swan song that delivers a fitting end for a legend.
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