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The Harder They Fall (1956)

Passed | | Drama, Film-Noir, Sport | 31 March 1956 (USA)
An ex-sportswriter is hired by a shady fight promoter to promote his latest find, an unknown but easily exploitable rising star from Argentina.


Mark Robson


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




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


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


The Only Thing That's On The Square ...Is The Ring Itself... See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Budd Schulberg author of the novel which served as the source material for the film, and an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, was originally hired on to write the screen adaptation. Schulberg took the job on the condition that he be allowed to work from home so he could avoid coming into contact with Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures. Cohn had been fiercely critical and insulting to Schulberg's father, B.P. Schulberg, when he was the head of rival studio, Paramount, years before. In one of his only executive actions for this film Cohn vetoed the decision to hire the younger Schulberg and turned the screen-writing duties over to Philip Yordan. See more »


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 »


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 »


Referenced in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Scavenger (2004) See more »

User Reviews

Saga of ring corruption packs a kayo wallop
16 June 2012 | by NewEnglandPatSee all my reviews

Humphrey Bogart's final film pulls no punches in its indictment of boxing as it chronicles the career of an unfortunate pugilist who is duped into a series of tank jobs that get him a coveted but undeserved title shot. Bogart, an unemployed press agent, is hired to promote and build up the pretender at the request of an unscrupulous manager, played by Rod Steiger. The film notes the brutality, mob violence, insensitive owners and trainers, bookies, fixes, hopelessness and despair of fighters who take frightful punishment in the ring while managers and promoters profit. A brief segment of the picture dwells on the misfortunes of an ex fighter who wound up homeless, penniless and addle-brained after a career in the ring. The movie is grim and cynical, with a hard-edged undercurrent throughout. Bogart and Steiger have the expected showdown at the end as their differences clash but not before the dark underbelly of boxing has been exposed. Budd Schulberg's novel is the basis for this film and old pro Bogart is wonderful and gets strong support from Steiger and several others, especially Harold Stone and Nehemiah Persoff. Jersey Joe Walcott, in a few brief scenes, has a nice turn as a sympathetic trainer.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

31 March 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Harder They Fall See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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