THE SET-UP (1949) B/W 73m dir: Robert Wise
w/Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias, Alan Baxter, Wallace Ford, Percy Helton, Hal Baylor, Darryl Hickman, Kenny O'Morrison, James Edwards
This is tough film about a fighter on the skids who refuses to go crooked. Ryan's grit and pugnacity are terrific in the leading role. The film is so "realistic," in fact, that it plays out in real time, as evidenced by the opening and closing shots of the clock. Written by Art Cohn from a narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March.
Variety calls the film "tough and suspenseful," and goes on to say: "But the story itself is not the peg that integrates Set-Up into a biting, pictorial analysis of pugilism; the film's values primarily lie in its unmerciless character studies. Under Robert Wise's skillful direction, the assorted ringside audience 'types' give an added luster of realism. Dressingroom hangers-on, rubdown boys and other pugs on the bill also come in for scalpel-like scrutiny."
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "Set entirely at night in a seedy provincial town, this harsh portrait of the boxing world, with its petty crooks and its sadistic, hysterical crowds, has rarely been matched. Robert Ryan gives a good characterization of the battered, but indefatigable boxer."