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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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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
This was an interesting story but not always enjoyable to watch, simply because it's a real downer in spots, and seeing an ill Humphrey Bogart was sad.
Bogart, as "Eddie Willis," plays a decent guy who knows he's doing the wrong thing so he's ornery for most of the film. His conscience is getting the best of him. Not many others in here are happy, either, for that matter, in this tale of crooked boxing. Boy, filmmakers in the '40s and '50s loved making crooked boxing stories.
What's also different about this is the featured boxer: a 6-foot-8 Argentinian import named "Toro Moreno" (Mike Lane), a stiff who is being groomed for the heavyweight championship via a series of fixed fights, led by the crooked promoter played by Rod Steiger.
Along the way, it was interesting to see real-life fighters Max Baer and Jersey Joe Walcott.
Bogart died a little a little over a year after making this film. He looked haggard, which is understandable, but he still did his normal excellent job of acting and keeping the story interesting. Like him or not, Bogart always got your interest. He, along with James Cagney, were the best at dominating a film.
A decent boxing film, but nothing spectacular, to be honest. There are many, many better boxing movies, but this is still worth watching.
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