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The Set-Up
The Set-Up
Actors: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias, Alan Baxter, Wallace Ford
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2004     1hr 12min

Over-the-hill boxer Stoker Thompson thinks he can still win a bout despite doubts from his wife and his manager. He goes into his next fight determined to beat his opponent not realizing his manager has taken money from a ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias, Alan Baxter, Wallace Ford
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Turner Home Ent
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/06/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 03/29/1949
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 12min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY
Reviewed on 9/5/2010...
**This review contains spoilers**

When I was younger (I'm 57 now), I actually enjoyed watching a boxing match. But now when I think about what happens to many boxers after they retire, it's hard for me to admire the sport. Some young people (particularly some urban youth) believe that it can be a get rich ticket--a path out of the ghetto. What these young people don't understand is that boxing takes its toll physically and when you get older, your body will bear the effects of the earlier abuse. Case in point: Muhammed Ali and countless others who are unable to enjoy their old age.

In a sense, The Set-Up is a cautionary tale: it shows you exactly what the effect of boxing has on the body. It does not romanticize boxing and for that it should be commended. Nonetheless, as drama the Set-up is a dud. The main reason to watch it is the fantastic choreographed boxing scenes (if you like boxing!) and the cinematography (the 'cameos' of the spectators are priceless). Otherwise, the main characters have little meat.

Robert Ryan (Stoker) plays a boxer who believes he has one fight left in him. He valiantly decides not to throw a fight and pays the price when gangsters beat him up after the fight is over and make sure he'll never fight again. Audrey Totter is his long-suffering girlfriend who has a wasted part, simply walking around the street, tearing up a ticket to her guy's last fight and basically not part of the main action of the film.

While all the peripheral characters (including the gangster, "Little Boy"), are very colorful, none of them are developed into characters with any depth. The denouement is decidedly quite disappointing. Stoker gets his hand broken by the gangsters, realizes he'll never fight again, his girlfriend is happy and presumably they'll walk into the sunset, arm in arm, facing a new, optimistic tomorrow.

Unfortunately, this is not the type of film you'll probably want to view a second time. Watch it once, but that's it!!!

Movie Reviews

Robert Wise's Masterpiece
Steven Hellerstedt | 12/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"THE SET-UP is probably the least known, and maybe the best, of the trio of boxing movies to come in the late 1940s. The other two, of course, are BODY AND SOUL and THE CHAMPION.
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. Although his career would lead him to play more character than lead roles, playing both good guys and bad, he has more than enough of whatever it takes to carry this movie.
Director Robert Wise delivers a lean, tough, and immediate movie. Ears cauliflower and foreheads bulge with long healed scar tissue. Wise doesn't waste a frame or a gesture. What doesn't push the plot forward services the downcast mood.
The commentary track features Wise and director Martin Scorsese. Wise must have been in his mid-eighties when he recorded the track. His mind is clear and, as an old movie fan, I consider it a privilege to listen to him comment on one of his masterpieces. Scorsese adds insight into a film he obviously loves as well, although his enthusiasm sometimes runs away a bit and it's a little difficult to follow some of his learned praise.

Perhaps American cinema's most underrated film
Richard E. Hourula | Berkeley, CA. United States | 07/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Simply put this is a masterpiece. Presumably the belated praise "The Set-Up" is owed will come its way with this new DVD release. Director Robert Wise has some very good films to his credit but this is tour de force. The camera work and editing are unparalleled. The film's myriad minor characters are magically revealed by short (but never choppy) camera shots.
"The Set-Up" is the story of an aging boxer hoping that one last fight can turn around his career and thus his life. Shady gamblers and corrupt fight handlers have other ideas. The setting is the fictional Paradise City, a grimy, cynical fast-paced and totally unsentimental city. Much of the action takes place in the boxing arena featuring some of the best fight sequences ever shot. But a scene in a bar is memorable as are shots following the boxer's unhappy girlfriend.
The movie is shot in real time, only 72 minutes, but what a 72 minutes it is. Never has so much of a story been told in so short a time.
Adding to the value of this DVD is the accompanying commentary provided by Wise and Martin Scorsese. Scorsese is not only one of the great directors of all time but is also wonderful in the burgeoning field of DVD film commentary. He has forgotten more about film than most of us will ever know. His speaking style is not just insightful but engaging. Just listen to him explain "The Set-Up"s stylized realism.
But watch "The Set-Up" first without the commentary, then enjoy and appreciate it even more with it.
A great film lover's film."
A Perfect "Set-Up"
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 11/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Two unscrupulous fight promoters make a deal with an underworld kingpin: their aging client, who's had a run of bad luck in the ring, will throw an upcoming match with the gangster's young protege. There's just one problem ... they don't bother to tell the veteran boxer about the fix, because they plan to keep his share of the pay-off. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose, both in and out of the ring. It's a taut, suspenseful plot and to add to the excitement, the movie takes place in real time: 71 minutes in these characters' lives, unfolding in 71 minutes of screen time.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."