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The Harder They Fall (1956)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir, Sport | 8 May 1956 (Japan)
Down-on-his-luck ex-sportswriter Eddie Willis is hired by shady fight promoter Nick Benko to promote his latest find, an unknown but easily exploitable phenom from Argentina.



(screen play), (based on a novel by)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Buddy Brannen
Jersey Joe Walcott ...
Jim Weyerhause
Art Leavitt
Carlos Montalbán ...
Luís Agrandi (as Carlos Montalban)
Vince Fawcett
Danny McKeogh


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


No Punches Pulled! If you thought "On The Waterfront" hit hard... wait till you see this one!


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

8 May 1956 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

La caída de un ídolo  »


Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,350,000, 31 December 1956
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Humphrey Bogart was not a fan of working with Rod Steiger. Bogart was critical of Steiger's method acting technique, and confided to a friend that "This scratch-your-ass-and-mumble school of acting doesn't please me." See more »


When George, the sparring partner, is testing Torro in the ring for the first time, he is told to punch Torro in various places to test his ability to take a punch. "Once in the belly." he punches him in the belly. "In the kidneys." which would have been an illegal punch to test against a dirty fighter, George instead hits Torro in the shoulder, and never punches anywhere near the kidneys. See more »


Eddie Willis: A man past his forties shouldn't have to run anymore.
See more »


Referenced in Dinner for Five: Episode #1.4 (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

The pen is mightier than the boxing glove.
5 November 2010 | by See all my reviews

Eddie Willis was once a top sports writer, but now he is down on his luck and searching for work. He gets a proposition from dodgy promoter Nick Benko, he is to write up sensationalist press for Benko's new discovery, the gigantic Toro Moreno. Trouble is is that Moreno is a poor boxer, powder puff punches and a glass jaw. But each fight is fixed by Benko and along with Eddie's press writings, this propels Moreno to being a household name, thus a crack at the heavyweight title is in the offering. However, Eddie starts to feel conflicted the more the story unfolds and just around the corner is a tragedy that will shape the destinies of everyone who is involved.

This was sadly to be the last film from the great Humphrey Bogart. He would pass away the following year, but thankfully this Mark Robson directed piece proves to be a fitting swansong. He puts depth to his portrayal of Willis and his face off scenes with Rod Steiger's Benko are a real acting joy to observe. The film itself {great scripting from Phillip Yordan} is a scathing and critical look at the boxing circuit, corruption, greed and a scant care for human life come bubbling to the surface, with Burnett Guffey's stark black & white photography adding grime to the nasty underbelly. Real life {and one time heavyweight champion of the world} boxer Primo Carnera sued {and lost} Columbia because The Harder They Fall's story was close enough to his own life story, that in itself makes this film's core story all the more interesting. 8/10

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