DVD region 2. Odeon.
director Robert Wise - who’s career has run the gauntlet
from Curse of the Cat People and The
Haunting to Star Trek – The Motion Picture
and The Sound of Music – come this gritty
slice of cynicism that still feels as fresh today as it did on
Unfolding more or less in real time, it follows washed up boxer
Stoker Thompson (Robert Ryan), long past his prime and now so
expected to lose that his manager and trainer don’t even
bother to tell him that they’ve accepted a payoff for him
to take a fall in his upcoming match – they just assume
that’ll be the result anyway. For Stoker, this is his last
chance – his wife, pleading with him not to keep fighting,
is ready to walk out on him and he sees the hopeless dreams of
those around him. As he waits his turn, he sits in the cramped
locker room with fellow fighters – the punch drunk dreamer
who comes back after one round not knowing who he is, the nervous
kid throwing up before his first bout. During his fight, things
don’t go according to the pre-arranged plan. But for Stoker,
victory comes at a price.
This is a remarkable movie – rarely has the brutality and
savagery of boxing (and it’s audience) been so starkly portrayed.
The cast is outstanding, a bunch of tired, worn-out faces, too
tired and jaded to care about anything anymore, covered in a constant
film of sweat. It has the feel of a documentary and the inevitability
of a tragedy.
While the scenes of Stoker’s wife Julie (Audrey Totter)
avoiding the fight are a little too much like filler, the film
as a whole is a tight, angry little item. Pretty much essential
IT NOW (UK)
IT NOW (USA)