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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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
The character of Eddie Willis is based upon the career of writer and event promoter Harold Conrad. See more »
In the opening sequence Eddie gets into a taxi in front of Peter Cooper Village near East 14th Street, but the rear view of the cab has it located by a housing project near the Brooklyn Bridge about 2 miles south. 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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A Satisfying Conclusion to Humphrey Bogart's Career
The seamy side of the boxing world is the subject of this interesting film. A third-rate amateur boxer (Mike Lane) is brought from South America to New York and exploited by a corrupt promoter (Rod Steiger).
Steiger hires out-of-work columnist Bogart as a press agent for a big publicity build-up, fixing fights across the country and making a profit for Steiger and his "boxing club." The name of the game is money, and Bogart struggles with his conscience, ethics and the disapproval of his wife (Jan Sterling) as he promotes the young fighter, who is duped into thinking he is invincible.
Eventually, the fighter faces the match that can't be fixed in New York with (real-life) boxing champ Max Baer. Lane is told about the previous fixed fights and knows he'll be decimated, but decides to fight Baer anyway to save face. Out of guilt and in sympathy, Bogart gives Lane his share of the purse (after he finds out that Lane has been fleeced out of his winnings), then puts him on a plane back to South America.
Sadly, Bogart was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus during filming; reportedly, some of his lines had to be dubbed by others in post-production.
Despite his illness, he gave an impressive performance, together with some wonderful character actors such as Edward Andrews, Nehemiah Persoff and Herbie Faye.
Rod Steiger's versatility is well demonstrated here, as his role as the corrupt promoter sharply contrasts the gentle soul he portrayed in the TV version of "Marty" two years earlier.
The fight scenes with Max Baer are also very well done, and the on-location shots of 1955 Manhattan and downtown Chicago add stark realism.
The Harder They Fall is a film definitely worth viewing.
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