Stoker Thompson is a 35-year-old has-been boxer. His once-promising fighting career has come crashing to the end. Tiny, Stoker's manager, is sure he will continue to lose fights, so he takes money for a "dive" from a mobster, but is so sure that Thompson will lose that he doesn't tell the boxer about the set-up. At the beginning of the last round of the vicious boxing match he learns of the fix.
|Release Date||:||April 2, 1949|
|Production Company||:||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Production Countries||:||United States of America|
|Director||:||Robert Wise, Edward Killy, Joel Freeman|
|Writers||:||Robert Wise, Art Cohn, Joseph Moncure March|
|Casts||:||Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias, Alan Baxter, Wallace Ford, Percy Helton, Hal Baylor, Darryl Hickman, James Edwards, David Clarke, Phillip Pine, Edwin Max, Kevin O'Morrison|
|Plot Keywords||:||gambling, transporter, boxer, boxing match, sport, classic noir, gritty|
Robert Wise was one of Hollywood's most versatile and talented directors, but amidst all the classic films he made, this one was purportedly his personal favourite. It's easy to see why. Seedy, gritty, and stark, it's about as subtle as a hard right to the jaw. Ryan - one of the most underrated actors in American cinema - delivers a superb performance as Stoker, an aging boxer looking to salvage his dignity if not his career. It's a moral choice that could cost him his friends, his marriage and his future. Among the many interesting facets of the film is the use of other boxers on the night's ticket to reflect and reveal aspects of Stoker's own character - the loss of his youthful dreams, the fear of pain and permanent damage. Wise reserves such subtle devices for Stoker alone - every other character is rather one-dimensional, though this came across to me as a conscious choice to better fit the story into the 'real time' format, and to keep us focused solely on Stoker's story. The camera work and visuals are as stark and as potent as the story, carefully chosen to reflect the emotional beats of the story. Overall, an archetypal example of film noir not to be missed. Don't consider yourself a true film buff until you've seen this movie!