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Unlike those fine movies THE SET-UP'S protagonist, boxer Robert Ryan, isn't a young pug riding his fists of stones to fame and fortune. He's a thirty-five year old fighter caught somewhere in the last round of an undistinguished career, a nobody on the bottom of a fight card in Paradise City. About all he's got left to dream about is squeezing enough out of whatever remains of his career to buy a cigar stand. His loving wife, Audrey Trotter, has had her fill of seeing him beat up. One more win, Ryan tells her, and I'll be in line for a rematch and a payoff big enough to afford....
Like the other boxing movies, Ryan's fate is in the hands of the big men with fat cigars, the ones who set up a win for an up and coming boxer by setting up a convincing dive by his over-the-hill opponent. Money changes hands. Everyone's in on it except for the guy who's supposed to take the fall, the guy who's one punch away from that cigar stand.
Although THE SET-UP is a highly entertaining movie, it carries a heavy dose of allegorical cynicism. Ryan's character doesn't bother to hide the look of disgust on his face as he surveys the bloodthirsty crowd upon entering the auditorium. Ryan's Everyman has no illusion and the humblest of dreams, unaware that the fat boys with the big cigars have negotiated a foreclosure on it. Ryan, forty at the time this movie was made, was a boxer in college. He's utterly convincing, in and outside the ring.Read more ›
This tough, gritty little masterpiece offers a superb performance by Robert Ryan as the doublecrossed fighter. Lean, muscled, with a world-weary look on his once-handsome face, Ryan's physical perfection in the role is matched by the economy of his acting style. He's surrounded by an excellent supporting cast; every role, including the various spectators in the arena, is beautifully played. Tightly directed by Robert Wise, "The Set-Up" is a gem, and a perfect example of the film noir genre.
Robert Wise, known for his meticulous work, did spend some time with real boxers inside their dressing rooms, and captured very good the atmosphere among them while they are waiting for their own fight. All the worries, loose conversations, just to kill time, anticipation, hopes, expectations, naturalism to the bone, almost as if you watch some documentary. Although story is not a bit complicated, it is even predictable at a moments we should bear in mind that this movie is based on excellent narrative poem of the same title, by Joseph Moncure March.
Another intresting experiment for that time, two years prior to Fred Zinemann's High Noon, is the unfolding of the story in real time. 73 minutes in a liftime of the aged boxer, at the sunset of his career who still hopes that he's just ?one punch away? from fullfilment of his dreams. That one punch he's been waiting for thirty five years.
Truly remarkable movie!!!
An exceptional performance from Robert Ryan, with great support from a seasoned troupe of film favorites, THE SET-UP will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
The DVD looks marvelous, the best I have ever seen of this film. It captures the essence of the RKO-noir look, and is genuinely film-like. Don't be swayed by these neophytes who negate a video transfer because it has "age-related artifacts". What hooey! Not every film has to undergo a million dollar digitization to look as good as it did when it was new, and THE SET-UP has surely never looked better!
An added treat are insightful commentary thoughts from the film's director Mr. Wise, and another legendary director who seems to like the movie. Some guy named Marty Scorsese. :)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Truly wonderful film noir at it's best in spite of people's insistence this is a "boxing" movie. Filmed in real time. UnmissablePublished 22 days ago by Stephen J. Heeney
Having seen most ALL the 'boxing' movies, I have to say "The Set-Up" is the best. It shows the 'craft' for what it REALLY is - tough and not at all glamorous for the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by The Purple Heart
Robert Ryan and Audrey Totter and great in the terrific noir. Even if you do not enjoy boxing (I don't), you will be stuck you your seat for 70 minutes. A must seePublished 8 months ago by Pogodog
Excellent film noir movie--one I had not heard of. Usually I don't care for films with a boxing theme, but this is outstanding, with crisp direction by Robert Wise--and probably... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jo
This is my favorite all-time boxing movie! I consider this the BEST job of acting in Robert Ryan's career. And, NEVER undersell Audrey Trotter; terrific actress! Read morePublished 11 months ago by jimv
The movie that inspired and informed Scorcese's Raging Bull. A little masterpiece.Published 12 months ago by Greg Gits
Robert Ryan as you've rarely seen him: acting! This picture is the rawest look at the underworld of boxing that you're likely to see on film, and Robert Ryan is at the best I've... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Movie Nut