Expecting the usual loss, a boxing manager takes bribes from a betting gangster without telling his fighter.Expecting the usual loss, a boxing manager takes bribes from a betting gangster without telling his fighter.Expecting the usual loss, a boxing manager takes bribes from a betting gangster without telling his fighter.
Anthony Quinn might very well have seen Robert Ryan in The Set-Up when he played Mountain Rivera in Requiem For A Heavyweight. Rod Serling must have seen it as well. Both films deal with a boxer at the end of his career, but who has a lot of pride. Manager George Tobias and trainer Percy Helton get an offer from gambler Alan Baxter who is backing an up and coming heavyweight contender Hal Baylor. Ryan is just another step up the ladder, a ladder when Ryan was younger he was climbing. Tobias and Helton agree to take a dive, but no one can broach the subject to Ryan.
Which sets it all up for the final match and the aftermath where Ryan betrayed by all hangs in on nerve and pride alone. What happens afterward is for you to view, but don't expect the same kind of resolution that Requiem For A Heavyweight gave.
A really big surprise here are George Tobias and Percy Helton who normally play comic parts are quite serious here as a pair of fight game characters. The performances are so atypical of the work you've come to expect from both.
Ryan's amateur boxing career no doubt stood him in good stead for this role. He makes a rugged looking boxer who's been through the ring wars over and over again. That helps him in this latest encounter.
The sets are gritty and realistic, in fact I've never seen an urban area done so well until Otto Preminger's The Man With The Golden Arm debuted six years later. Preminger also might have been influenced by The Set-Up when he made his classic.
Although unnoticed at first, The Set-Up has slowly built a reputation as one of the great noir films out of RKO and one of the best boxing films ever made. For myself it certainly influenced a lot of people.
- Aug 13, 2010