The Harder They Fall

1956 | Film Noir, Drama | 109 minutes | English


Eddie Willis, a has-been, weary sportswriter is hired to do PR work for boxing promoter Nick Benko. Benko wants to promote fighter Toro Moreno, a towering Argentinian who  can’t throw a punch and has a glass jaw. Toro has been winning his fights not realizing every fight has been fixed.  Eddie knows this is a dirty deal, but he needs the money. He is able to spin Toro as a legitimate contender. Benko makes sure Toro keeps winning by fixing all his fights. Toro has a fight with Gus Dundee, who has serious brain damage. After the fight, Dundee collapses and dies. Toro is overcome with guilt. Eddie feels he must tell Toro the truth. All of his previous fights were fixed. Meanwhile, Benko sells Toro’s contract so now his next fight is not fixed. Toro sustains a brutal beating. Eddie gets his payout of $26,000.00 but Toro is given only $49.07. Ashamed of his part in all  this corruption, and not wanting to see Toro further exploited, Eddie gives Toro his $26,000 and puts him on a plane to Argentina. Benko threatens Eddie for letting Toro fly back home. But Eddie has a remedy: He’s going to write an article exposing the vicious corruption in the fight game. 

Humphrey Bogart (Eddie Willis) / Rod Steiger (Nick Benko) / Mike Lane (Toro Moreno)
Why Stream This Film?
Humphrey Bogart played a sportswriter who was weary and broken. Several film critics noted that Bogart’s appearance in the film was so realistic. Very few in Hollywood knew that Bogart was seriously ill with cancer during the filming. He died just one year after the completion of the The Harder They Fall. He was just 58 years old. Bogart gave a brilliant performance in his final film. What a fitting tribute.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
  • Rated 31/2 stars out of 4 in Leonard Maltin’s MOVIE GUIDE
  • The film received a perfect 100% Rotten Tomatoes score
Budd Schulberg’s vehement novel about the fight racket is given a strong pictorial going over in THE HARDER THEY FALL. It’s a main-event stuff.


This hard-punching boxing business picture comes out swinging from the very beginning and doesn’t stop until the end. It bangs out a punishing tale of a dirty hoax foisted on  fight fans by a crass promoter and an ex-sports writer.  It’s a lively, stinging film.
Bosley Crowther

The New York Times

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