7.6/10
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73 user 38 critic

The Harder They Fall (1956)

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.

Director:

Mark Robson

Writers:

Philip Yordan (screen play), Budd Schulberg (based on a novel by)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Humphrey Bogart ... Eddie Willis
Rod Steiger ... Nick Benko
Jan Sterling ... Beth Willis
Mike Lane ... Toro Moreno
Max Baer ... Buddy Brannen
Jersey Joe Walcott Jersey Joe Walcott ... George
Edward Andrews ... Jim Weyerhause
Harold J. Stone ... Art Leavitt
Carlos Montalbán Carlos Montalbán ... Luís Agrandi (as Carlos Montalban)
Nehemiah Persoff ... Leo
Felice Orlandi ... Vince Fawcett
Herbie Faye ... Max
Rusty Lane ... Danny McKeogh
Jack Albertson ... Pop
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

8 May 1956 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

La caída de un ídolo See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joe Greb has a small and uncredited role as a brain-damaged boxer who gives an interview about the damaging effects of the sport. In reality, Greb had a 12 year career as a boxer and fought in 119 bouts during that period. Greb suffered irreparable brain damage from his time as a boxer and was a vocal proponent of fighter safety. In essence, he plays himself in this film. See more »

Goofs

A TV sportscaster's man-on-the-street interview with a punch-drunk fighter filmed on location on Skid Row features multiple camera angles (long shot, middle shot and close-ups) - a technological luxury requiring three consecutively-rolling cameras no TV news station in the mid-Fifties could possibly have afforded. See more »

Quotes

Nick Benko: The people, Eddie, the people! Don't tell me about the people, Eddie. The people sit in front of their little TVs with their bellies full of beer and fall asleep. What do the people know, Eddie? Don't tell me about the people, Eddie!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Wifemistress (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

"He didn't have 5 guys in the ring with him."
13 October 2007 | by eadoeSee all my reviews

I just saw this film and now realize that Sly Stallone must have watched it about a hundred times before staging the fight scenes in Rocky – he even recreated the subtle touch when Toro's coach cuts his eyelid in the fight to release the built-up blood (except in this film, you only see him go for the eye with a scalpel but don't see him actually cut it as you do in Rocky). The final fight at the end of this movie is THE most gruesome fight ever filmed. Stallone tried to capture this in Rocky, but it has nowhere NEAR the realism of the fight in The Harder They Fall. This is partly because it is shot in black and white, which for some reason makes everything seem more gruesome than color; partly because of the foggy, staggering way it is shot, as if you are seeing the punches through the groggy boxer's eyes; and partly because the actor who played Toro was not a star like Stallone or DeNiro in Raging Bull – they could make him look like a true wreck, a distorted, disfigured wreck – without fear of diminishing his "star" quality handsomeness.

My favorite line in this movie is when Bogart angrily asks Steiger how he'd like to have his jaw broken like Toro's. Steiger's henchmen immediately start to converge on Bogart, who says, "He didn't have 5 guys in the ring with him." It's a great line that brings home how the powerful are protected from the very pain they inflict on others.

The movie's title, from the old saying, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall," is also very ironic, because the "big" guys – Steiger and the corrupt fight backers – actually never "fall" – it is only the "little" guys, like Toro, who fall the hardest.

By the way, it was really spooky seeing Max Baer himself re-create his historic fight with Primo Carnera in this film, which is based on Max Baer's historic fight with Primo Carnera! You can see a film of this 1934 fight online, in which Baer knocks Carnera down 11 times in 11 rounds. By round 2, Baer was actually chasing Carnera around the ring, and at least 3 times he knocked him down so hard that he actually fell on top of him!


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