Humphrey Bogart's final screen role was in this 1956 film by Mark Robson (Home of the Brave), about a cynical sportswriter who becomes a press agent and sees firsthand how badly boxers are used and manipulated by crooked m... more »anagers. The story finds Bogart's character waffling about the ethics surrounding the exploitation of an overrated fighter who will earn money for his handlers in the short term, then be tossed onto the scrap heap. This is a very tough tale written by Budd Schulberg and shot with determined unromanticism; the boxing sequences are among the most striking and violent ever committed to film. Jan Sterling plays Bogart's wife, who watches him vacillate about whether to expose the fight syndicate as a racket. --Tom Keogh« less
"... This was Bogart's last performance, all right, & it was just about his best. He hit the target of the character of the burned-out over-boozed sports writer dead on, right down to the sad but dapper little bow-tie. Rod Steiger & Nehemiah Persoff & Felice Orlandi & Val Avery & Sammy White couldn't have been better. Watch their ensemble playing, especially in the early scenes. Watch Steiger at the hospital when Gus Dundee is dying, screaming righteously at the doctor & gesturing to Avery with a twitching hand motion to remove his hat. You don't see performances, nor direction, like that anywhere these days. Mark Robson is mostly forgotten now, but he apprenticed with Welles & Lewton & it shows & shines through here: in the acting, the lighting, the cinematography & especially the pace. Sure the plot is corny & predictable, but only because it's been recycled by far lesser talents a thousand times. This movie is not about now & it is not about today's attitudes or mores. It stands alongside On the Waterfront & Sweet Smell of Success as 1950s New York tabloid melodramas. And boy is it great!"
A great boxing movie that was also Bogart's last
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 07/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Bogart's Powerful Finale
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 10/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
BRUTAL FOR IT'S ERA
Alan W. Armes | Mountain Home, Arkansas USA | 02/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
The Harder They Fall
John Farr | 06/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."