7.8/10
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The Set-Up (1949)

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:

Robert Wise

Writers:

Art Cohn (screenplay), Joseph Moncure March (from the poem by)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Ryan ... Stoker
Audrey Totter ... Julie
George Tobias ... Tiny
Alan Baxter ... Little Boy
Wallace Ford ... Gus
Percy Helton ... Red
Hal Baylor ... Tiger Nelson (as Hal Fieberling)
Darryl Hickman ... Shanley
Kevin O'Morrison ... Moore (as Kenny O'Morrison)
James Edwards ... Luther Hawkins
David Clarke ... Gunboat Johnson
Phillip Pine ... Souza
Edwin Max ... Danny
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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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 April 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El luchador See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based upon a narrative poem published in 1928 by Joseph Moncure March, who gave up his job as the first managing editor of "The New Yorker" to devote himself to writing. On the strength of it, he went to Hollywood as a screenwriter, remaining there for a dozen years. In 1948 he volunteered to work on this film, but was turned down. He was incensed that his black boxer Pansy Jones was changed into the white Stoker Thompson. 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

"Paradise (1931) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Played in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Great One
2 November 2005 | by HandlinghandelSee all my reviews

This is a beautiful study in despair. The simple plot is moving. The boxing scenes are excellent. The dark photography is breathtaking. And it is superbly directed.

The director is one of the two mysteries involved in "The Set-Up." Robert Wise directed some of the most incisive, searing films noir in the history of movies. He seems to have had a true feel for the down and dirty. Yet he is best known for overblown, soulless musicals in the 1960s. OK, a man has to eat. But offhand, I can't think of a more dichotomous career.

The other, sadder puzzle is its star, Robert Ryan. He had a solid career as a working actor. Yet he is nearly forgotten today. Cary Grant never won an Academy Award and there are many others, who are often cited. But how could the award have been denied Ryan, one of the finest movie actors of the Twentieth Century?


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