The Set-Up (1949) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Set-Up (1949)

The Set-Up




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Set-Up Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

As shown by the clock face that opens and closes the film, The Set-Up takes place within a compact 72 minutes, with the action played out in "real time." Robert Ryan plays Bill "Stoker" Thompson, a washed-up boxer who refuses to give up his career despite the pleas of his wife Julie (Audrey Totter). There's little chance that he's going to win this evening's bout; still, Stoker's manager Tiny (George Tobias) has secretly made a deal with a crooked gambler (Alan Baxter). Stoker is to take a dive, a fact withheld from him until the fight is well under way. His last vestige of pride is aroused in the ring, but the story doesn't end there. The fight sequence is one of the most brutal ever filmed, with close ups of Ryan's pummeled face intercut with shots of screaming spectators in the throes of bloodlust. Adapted by Art Cohn from a narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March, The Set-Up is arguably Robert Ryan's finest starring film.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Art Cohn
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 6, 2004
RKO Pictures

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Robert Ryan
as Bill "Stoker" Thomps...
Alan Baxter
as Little Boy
Audrey Totter
as Julie Thompson
Hal Baylor
as Tiger Nelson
James Edwards
as Luther Hawkins
David Clarke
as Gunboat Johnson
Edwin Max
as Danny
Abe Dinovitch
as Ring Caller
Jack Chase
as Hawkins' Second
Gene Delmont
as Handler
Jack Raymond
as Husband
Walter Ridge
as Manager
Paul Dubov
as Gambler
Jack Stoney
as Nelson's Second
Archie Leonard
as Blind Man
Bernard Gorcey
as Tobacco Man
Charles Wagenheim
as Hamburger Man
W.J. O'Brien
as Pitchman
Frank Mills
as Photographer
Bobby Henshaw
as Announcer
Kid Chissel
as Handler
Ben Moselle
as Referee
Hal Fieberling
as Tiger Nelson
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Set-Up

Critic Reviews for The Set-Up

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Robert Wise's virtuosically squalid microcosm

Full Review… | June 16, 2015

Its boilerplate fatalism undone by overbearing moralizing and the fact that Ryan's boxer is too one-dimensionally good to register as tragic.

Full Review… | May 1, 2006
Slant Magazine

This is one of the top boxing films ever made, along with Raging Bull and Body and Soul.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

September 9, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Set-Up


this film is TIGHT.

Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer


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.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Tough tight little noir. Lean in the best sense, not one shot is wasted.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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