Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Harder They Fall

Humphrey Bogart is one of my favorite film stars.  I love him in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and The Big Sleep.  I'm a big private eye buff as well.

In 1956, Bogart's last film was released.  He died in January 1957 of cancer.  It's ironic that he's shown here smoking a cigarette.  The Harder They Fall is one of the first boxing films I ever saw.  I think Kid Galahad starring Elvis Presley was the first.

In this one, Bogart plays a down-and-out sports reporter hired by a boxing promoter to build up a luckless boxer whose only real skill in the ring is his incredible toughness.  The boxer, Toro Moreno (Mike Lane), is a South American heavyweight who's being thrown to the wolves to make the fight syndicate money.

As the film progresses, Bogart is shown to be good at his job because Moreno fast tracks into fights, but those fights are getting him beat to pieces.  Along the way, Bogart becomes torn over doing his job and making money, or exposing the fight racket as evil and manipulative.

At the time of its release, this was an accurate picture of what boxing had become, and Bogart becomes an excellent vehicle for showing both sides of the sport.  I was young when I watched this, but I've never forgotten it.  If you haven't seen it and you like boxing and movies, you should.  It'll give you an idea of where Sylvester Stallone might have gotten his idea for Rocky less than twenty years later.

1 comment:

  1. This film was based on the Budd Schulberg novel. Schulberg also wrote On The Waterfront.