This is far from one of Bogart's best movies, but it is still well worth watching. In this film, he plays a washed-up sportswriter who has been hired as a PR man for gigantic South American boxer named Toro Morena. The problem is, Morena, despite his immense size, can't box at all. Bogart and Morena's crooked owner, magnificently played by Rod Steiger, manage to take him up the heavyweight ranks by fixing a string of fights.
Of all the sports, none have inspired as many excellent films as boxing. In fact, there may be more first-rate boxing films than first rate films from all other sports combined. There are probably a good dozen very, very good fight films, and this belongs to their number.
The tension in the film derives from the ultimate conflict between Bogart's inherent decency and Steiger's unmitigated exploitativeness. The two had great onscreen chemistry in their scenes together. They employed very different acting styles, Steiger being one of the first Method actors to enjoy success in the movies. Bogart was strictly old school, but he not only held his own, he dominated their scenes together.
A couple of real life boxers played major roles in the film. Jersey Joe Alcott plays Toro Moreno's trainer. Toro Moreno himself was very loosely based on the career of Primo Canera (with the difference that Canera actually could box, the similarities being that he was a remarkably tall heavyweight who killed a man in the ring). Max Baer, former heavyweight champion and the father of Max Baer Jr. (Jethro on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES), plays heavyweight champion Buddy Brannen. The irony in this is that Baer in real life became heavyweight champion by beating Primo Canera. The in-the-ring shots are among the finest that have ever been filmed in boxing pictures.
Based on Budd Schulberg's 1947 novel, "The Harder They Fall" (1956) is a stunning indictment of the boxing profession. The film also marks Humphrey Bogart's final performance as a former sports writer turned publicist - and he's in good company. Bogie's scenes with Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling and Mike Lane (as the giant Argentinian boxer) are truly memorable. Mark Robson's no-nonsense direction makes the most of Burnett Guffey's Oscar-nominated cinematography. Unlike other screen legends, Bogart ended his career in classic fashion.
on February 19, 2004
absolutely Bogart's greatest and valedictory performance. Bogart exited this life with his greatest performance. not only was this Bogart's best but this film also boasts a stellar ensemble of actors. this film dares to explore the criminal racketeering that once plagued the sport of professional boxing. the brutal realistic portrayals given by the actors is unsurpassed. from the intimidating performance by Steiger especially to the moral dilemma of Bogart is no less than incredible. an absolute must and imperative for one's film library. almost unbearable final fight to watch.
as for the DVD, some artifacts present but overall a good transfer. the audio is stereo and also good.
I was pleasantly surprised to catch this film on TV the other day. Bogart's final film is a testament to his career, a tough film about a conflicted man who ultimately rises to the challenge and pursues the morally virtuous course, at great personal, professional, and financial cost.
In addition to Bogart's fantastic performance, Rod Steiger chews the scenery nicely as a corrupt manager. Their scenes together are really well done, and very well written. I particularly enjoyed the scene after the big fight where Bogart presses to find out how much their fighter will ultimately wind up for getting so badly beaten in the ring.
But for me I truly enjoyed Mike Lane's performance as the up and coming Argentinian fighter El Toro, who is huge, honest, religious, but unfortunately a terrible fighter. His performance is precious.
on June 26, 2007
An ailing Bogart made his final appearance in Mark Robson's raw, hard-hitting film about corruption in the boxing world, playing a jaded press agent with a biting conscience. Steiger is in top form playing the ferocious ringleader of fraudulent bettors, and Mike Lane, as dim-witted, cruelly manipulated boxer Toro Moreno (modeled after Primo Carnero) is poignant and credible. Adapted from Budd Schulberg's novel, "Fall" spares nothing in portraying the unquenchable greed of local promoters, the rabidity of fans, and the heartbreaking physical toll the sport takes on the bodies of men who are barely regarded as human.
on January 3, 2007
The Harder they Fall is a hard hitting expose of the boxing racket, and a racket it is. Excellent performances by Humphrey Bogart, as a Sportwriter turned Boxing Press Agent,Rod Steiger, Edward Andrews, Nehemiah Persoff, and the always great ( and underrated ) Jan Sterling. An Excellent Screenplay by Philip Yordan, from a Budd Schulberg Novel. Mark Robson's Direction is swift. ***** Stars
I remember back in the day when my father would talk about all the great prize fighters of the past, and when he introduced me to this movie on the late show on CBS, before the era of 24 hour cable TV , I knew all the characters, who were portrayed in this epic Gangster/Prizefighting flick. The movie is based on the life of heavyweight champion Primo Carnera , who in his day, was a giant of a man at 6' 7" and 250 pounds. The problem, is Primo had little fighting skill, and many of his matches were framed, unknown to Primo, who thought he was actually winning those fights on his own. Along comes Max Baer who would have nothing to do with taking a dive for the sake of the mob, and administered a brutal beating on Primo to take the heavyweight crown. With primitive fighting skills, he fought bravely with the heart of a lion, trying to defend himself, by actually landing some leather of his own, but in the end, it was one of the saddest day's in boxing history. Having said all that, the movie is based on his life, with the main character boxer Toro Marino, who is taken to the top of the boxing world by unscrupulous mobsters who stole his earnings, and threw him to the streets in the end. Humphrey Bogart plays a boxing beat reporter who worked along with the mob, and aided in the false promotion of this make believe giant of a boxer, and in the end, did the right thing for this abused soul, that almost gives you a lump in your throat. Heavyweight champ Max Baer actually played the role of himself, under a different name for the movie script. This is an intense movie about evil and good, and a classic not to be missed. In real life, Primo left the boxing world broke, but became very successful in the world of professional wrestling and raised a family in california. He stated, the happiest day of his life, is when he became an American citizen. Known as the "Ambling Alp", Primo proved to be a model human being, loaded with kindness for all, which is more than can be said, for the real life mobsters who controlled the boxing game in the 30's, 40's and 50's.
on January 7, 2015
In Bogart's last film, he plays, Eddie Willis, a reputable sports writer who has been out of a job ever since his newspaper folded. Finding himself looking for other work, he is suddenly summoned by Nick Benko, played by the always edgy and ever wonderful, Rod Steiger. Benko has found a veritable mountain of a man in Argentina he brings to America with the idea of parlaying him into a boxer who will work his way up the roster of contenders, get a shot at the heavyweight title and a chance for a huge pay-day, win or lose! "Toro" Moreno, played by Mike Lane, who stands 6'8" and weighs in at 275 pounds in real life, is a formidable looking man! He towers over any opponent he has ever faced but cannot box! He's got a glass chin, a soft stomach, knows nothing of real training or footwork and doesn't pack a punch either! Benko is using Eddie and his reputation as an honest journalist, to build Toro into the most feared fighter since Rocky Marciano while he pays off fighters to take a dive on the way up the ladder! A couple of great fighters from the prior era are on hand to lend credibility to the film as well. Max Baer is cast as Buddy Brannen, the Heavyweight Champion Toro is destined to fight, and Jersey Joe Walcott, who plays Toro's sparring partner. In the film we actually see the aging Baer fight Toro in this thinly disguised film which parallels the real Baer-Carnera debacle of 1934! Even Eddie Willis is based on the career of sports writer/promoter, Harold Conrad! In his last bout before the title fight, Toro's opponent dies as a result. Thinking he has killed him, Toro wants no further part of the ring and wishes to return to South America. Benko is beyond angry upon hearing this news and convinces Eddie, the only person Toro really trusts, to talk him into staying by dangling the BIG pay day in front of his nose! Eddie has become increasingly plagued by pangs of conscience when it comes to Toro. He has come to realize Toro is NEVER going to receive the money promised him! When Brannen finds out the fighter died, he knows it was at his hands the boxer received the worst blows of his career and it is he that is responsible for his death and not Toro. Brannen is livid when he realizes Toro is receiving the credit for the kill, thereby setting him up to be billed as a great and dangerous fighter. Brannen knows better, begins to see himself as far from finished as a fighter, and swears to take him apart in the ring. Doing that means he has to renege on his own pay-off to take a dive in this, what was to be the last fight of his own career! I'm not going to ruin the last of it for you so do yourself a favor and buy it to discover just how it all goes down from here. You do have more surprises coming and remember, it IS one of the better fight films... and it IS Bogey's last one...You won't be sorry!
on August 23, 2010
This bleak but realistic film about the netherworld of professional boxing is one of the best sports dramas that Hollywood ever produced. Humphrey Bogart, of course, is the centerpiece of the story and he's at his best as the cagey, jaded sports reporter who covers a heavyweight contender and knows he's a phony but nevertheless promotes him for box-office profits. The fighter, perhaps a take on Primo Carnera, is manipulated by a greedy manager and his underworld hoodlums who know full well that Toro Moreno has no business in a boxing ring. The camerawork is gritty and the picture has the look of grainy 1950s newsreels which add the the credibility of the movie. Rod Steiger and Nehemiah Persoff are great and Mark Robson's direction was excellent. Especially touching and tragic is an interview with a former boxer whose brains got scrambled from years of ring combat. A very powerful film and a great coda to Bogart's wonderful career.
on March 27, 2015
I really like this movie for many reasons. First the story is good. The acting follows. I can't think of any 2 actors that could of played Bogey's and Stiegers parts as well as them. Some of verbal confrontation's between them are well written and amazing. The interactions of the different relationship keeps you thinking. The fight scenes seem a little hooky but passable. I really like the outside Black and white footage of New York City in 1955. If you look closely you will see some really cool cars and a snap shot of American city life in that era. Good Film Noir. I believe Bogey was suffering from lung cancer during the filming. It was his last film.