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The Set-Up (1949)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Sport | 2 April 1949 (USA)
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:

The Sensational Picture You've Been Hearing and Reading About! 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

One of the first films to be shot using the device of real time (ie, the film lasts the same length as the events it depicts). Other notable examples of this narrative device are High Noon (1952) and Nick of Time (1995). 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 Film Review: Robert Wise (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

"The Nearness of You' (1938) (uncredited)
Music by Hoagy Carmichael
Played in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Running On Pride
13 August 2010 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

If your taste runs to happy endings and beautiful people than stay away from The Set-Up. But if gritty and realistic drama is your taste you can't do better than this noir classic about the world of boxing. The Set-Up anticipated Rod Serling's Requiem For a Heavyweight by a decade as it deals with the same issues about a boxer at the end of his career.

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.


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