Friday, March 11, 2011

You didn't really think it was clean, did you?

I don't think I've ever done a full-length blog post on Humphrey Bogart's last movie, The Harder They Fall. It's airing tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 PM ET, so now is a good time to post on it.

Bogart plays Eddie Willis, a sportswriter whose career has definitely hit the skids. Things might be beginning to look up for him, though, with the possibility of a good paying job. That job is to help boxing promoter Nick Benko (Rod Steiger) make a name for Benko's latest find, the Argentine boxer Toro Moreno (Mike Lane). Moreno's plus is that at 6'8" and 270 lbs. or so, it's theoretically hard to bring him down. In reality, however, Toro can't punch, and has a glass jaw. It should be easy for any competent boxer to knock him out. Benko knows this of course, and Willis figures this out pretty quickly. But there's still money to be made, and Benko intends to do this dishonestly, by setting up a series of patsies for Toro to beat, before Toro can get the big-money bout. All Willis has to do is go along with the ruse.

Now, I'm not much of a fan of boxing, not even amateur boxing. So in general, I should dislike movies about boxing, especially those that romanticize it, and like a movie such as The Harder They Fall that exposes the seamy underside of the sport. That isn't quite reality, in that there are quite a few boxing-themed movies that I find quite enjoyable. As for The Harder They Fall, what I personally find good about the movie isn't about the message it says about boxing, but how it's really more a parable about journalistic integrity (not that there's much of that either these days) that just happens to be set against the backdrop of the boxing world. One could argue that Bogart's character in One Fatal Hour faces much the same dilemma as his Eddie Willis character.

The Harder They Fall seems not to be in print on DVD in North America.

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