“Money’s money, no matter where you get it.”
A washed-up sportswriter (Humphrey Bogart) eager for steady income accepts a gig as publicist for a hulky but ineffective new fighter (Mike Lane) working under a corrupt promoter (Rod Steiger) — but when an ethical journalist friend (Harold J. Stone) and his wife (Jan Sterling) learns more about what he’s doing, Bogart begins to have second thoughts.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “skillfully directed”, “remarkable, well-acted” film by Mark Robson — with an “outstanding no-punches-pulled (literally speaking) script by Philip Yordan,” based on a novel by Budd Schulberg — remains “the harshest indictment of boxing on film”, and is a “rare boxing film where the person who ‘sells out’ for money is not a fighter.” He notes that “the boxing world that is depicted is abominable. Not only is the sport itself brutal… but also most fights are shown to be rigged, and fighters are at the mercy of racketeers and money-hungry managers who should protect their fighters but treat them like cattle (to be bought, used, sold).” Peary adds, “Curiously, Max Baer plays the champ” who sadistically beats Toro [Lane], “twenty years after really mauling Primo Carnera (the basis for Toro) in [the] title bout; one wonders why he or Jersey Joe Wolcott (who plays Toro’s trainer) would participate in a film that condemns their sport” — but this comment belittles the intelligence and awareness of the boxers themselves, who surely realize (now if not then) the exploitation inherent in their own career choice, and also likely needed the money (!). Bogart looks tired and unwell in his final role, though this suits his character: he’s a man who recognizes that corruption is both tempting and relentlessly omnipresent, a formidable force to be reckoned with in a lifelong battle to privilege human dignity and respect over greed and gratification of the masses.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Strong direction by Robson
- Burnett Guffey’s cinematography
- Many effective scenes
Yes, as a still-powerful indictment of corruption in sports.