RKO Radio Pictures presents "THE SET-UP" (1949 72 min/B&W) -- Starring: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias, Alan Baxter & James Edwards
Directed by Robert Wise
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.
This is one of the top fight films ever made, along with Raging Bull and Body and Soul. It is reportedly the role Robert Ryan, the college boxing whiz liked the best, and the one he probably gave his best performance in. It is the only boxing film developed from a poem. It was fleshed out into a screenplay by boxing aficionado Art Cohn. The director, Robert Wise, wanted to use the ring for a metaphor about the corrupt world, using the innocence of a boxer against those in the business who tried to make him take a dive. Wise captured the mood of the smoked-filled arena, the fans' reactions, and the dirtiness of the boxing world. The dark streets of Los Angeles, the brutality of the sport, and the seedy hotels where the struggling boxers reside, were photographed in a gritty manner, giving the film its noir look.
* Special footnote: -- The Set-Up was one of the few films ever made in which narrative time and screen time are the same -72 minutes. Wise brought in former boxing professional John Indrisano to make sure the choreographed fight scenes were realistic. Wise, striving for realism above all, visited the boxing places around the Long Beach area, basing the boxing fans chosen for the film on the same type of people he saw while attending those matches.
Another RKO Radio Pictures Classics, with some of my favorite cast members from the past, Ryan, Totter and Tobias each one sharing their special talent with us, the audience.
Great direction by the legendary Robert Wise.
1. Robert Wise (Director)
Date of Birth: 10 September 1914 - Winchester, Indiana
Date of Death: 14 September 2005 - Los Angeles, California
2. Robert Ryan [aka: Robert Bushnell Ryan]
Date of Birth: 11 November 1909 - Chicago, Illinois
Date of Death: 11 July 1973 - New York City, New York
3. Audrey Totter
Date of Birth: 20 December 1918, Joliet, Illinois
Date of Death: Unknown
4. George Tobias
Date of Birth: 14 July 1901 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 27 February 1980 - Los Angeles, California
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 72 min on DVD ~ RKO Radio Pictures ~ (July 6, 2004)