The Set-Up (1949)
The Set-Up is the memorable, brutal story of washed-up boxer Stoker (Robert Ryan) as he fights the last fight of his career, a fight he is intended to lose. Directed with grim intensity by Robert Wise, and featuring a masterful, nuanced performance by Robert Ryan, the audience is taken into a nightmarish world where Ryan must face his own personal emotional demons as he battles with his own fears and searches for meaning in his life and his own personal integrity. Reminiscent of Raging Bull because of the intense realism of the boxing sequences, Ryan here shows himself to be one of the finest actors of the noir genre. Stoker, as portrayed by Ryan, is surrounded by parasites and hangers-on, but he, himself, has an unarticulated nobility that elevates his character to that of the seminal, existential hero. Ryan, perfectly suited for the role both in appearance and sensibility has never been finer. The Set-Up, because of its intense, unrelenting darkness and its emphasis on complex emotional themes is an unforgettable character study of a man on the edge, while at the same time an engrossing, deeply thoughtful examination of a man's battle for his own soul. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Set-Up
Its boilerplate fatalism undone by overbearing moralizing and the fact that Ryan's boxer is too one-dimensionally good to register as tragic.
Audience Reviews for The Set-Up
Playing in real time, The Set-Up is the story of a washed up prizefighter looking for one last shot at glory. According to IMDb, the screenplay was actually based on a poem about a black boxer named Pansy Jones. The author, Joseph March, was reportedly unhappy about his character being changed to Stoker Thompson, a white man.
Unlike most films about boxing, the fight scenes here seem raw and unchoreographed. Robert Ryan (who, by the way, was a boxer at Dartmouth) is completely believable in his portrayal and director Robert Wise manages to make the dark tension of the piece tangible. You can almost feel the punches and smell the sweat.
a terrific stripped down boxing picture made in real time. robert ryan plays a fighter facing the end of his career. incredible fight scenes and beautifully rendered characters inhabiting their own little world. just greatMore
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