It's a Wow Wednesday down in The Dungeon, like Wow, I didn't see that coming! "The Set-Up" is a movie made in 1949 that I didn't know anything about until just a couple of days ago.
Before that I only knew "The Set-Up" to be what you ordered at the basque restaurant if you didn't want an entree. "The Set-Up" consists of French bread, pickled tongue, green salad, cabbage soup, salsa, marinated tomatoes, spaghetti, French fries, and bleu cheese if you ask for it, so why would you need more?
Although I don't watch it much any more, I was a huge boxing and kick boxing fan for a couple of decades back in the 80's and 90's. I don't watch MMA because I don't think it's right to hit a guy when he's down, so that's never clicked with me!
"The Set-Up" is 100% a boxing movie, and quite possibly even though many people like don't even know about it any more, it just might be the best boxing movie ever made!
I've never been much of a Robert Ryan fan, but that has changed dramatically after watching "The Set-Up," and now I'm gonna tell you why!
George Tobias is a trainer named Tiny, he's going to a meeting to sell out his boy. He trains a journeyman boxer name Stoker Thompson. He doesn't feel a need to tell Stoker to take a fall, he just figures it will happen anyway, so why complicate things? Besides so much more, George will always be remembered as Abner Kravitz in "Bewitched."
When was the last time you saw a couple making out in a cafe?
Tiny tells this sleazeball guy named Danny not to worry about it, it's a sure thing. Danny wants to make sure, or his Boss, a tough guy known as 'Little Boy' will be mad, and is likely to throw a tantrum!
Danny was played by Edwin (The Incredible Melting Man) Max.
Robert Ryan is the washed up, over the hill, down on his luck boxer known as Stoker Thompson. All Stoker wants is a chance. If he could just throw the perfect punch one time, then he'd have an opportunity to have a bigger match, and maybe he could earn $500, and he and his wife Julie could settle down and get a little place somewhere.
Julie's just afraid that some day Stoker will get knocked down, and never get back up! Julie was played by Audrey (Tension) Totter, who usually was a bad girl in the movies, quite unlike Julie.
Two of the boxers sharing Stoker's dressing room are young men with stellar careers, Darryl (The Tingler) Hickman as Shanley, a boxer in his debut match, and the black guy is James Edwards in his first on screen appearance. James is the man who broke the mold of the shiftless black man, and brought dignity to the characters he portrayed like this boxer Luther Hawkins.
And so is his opponent, the up and coming Tiger Nelson!
Hal (Tobor The Great) Baylor is Tiger Nelson.
Hal was also 'Mercury' on the "Batman" TV series!
'Little Boy' and his girlfriend Bunny can't wait to collect all the free money they know they're going to get! Lynn (Canon City) Millan is Bunny and, Alan Baxter is 'Little Boy.' Alan was in "The Outer Limits" episode titled "O.B.I.T."
A round in a boxing match is three minutes long, and this was a four round fight. According to his trainer, Stoker will go down and not get back up in the third round even if he can.
What happens next is just crazy amazing. The rounds are almost all in real time, and it was at this point I thought, gee, these two fellows really look like they know how to box!
After the third round, and Stoker's not going down, Tiny and his cut man Red decide they better evacuate the building before the fight is over, and 'Little Boy' and his crew get their hands on them.
Red was played by the always entertaining Percy Helton who had a phenomenal career that spanned seven freakin' decades, and he had 237 titles to his name that included "Spook Chasers," "Head," and "Kiss Me Deadly." He was also in two episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "Mr. Garrity And The Graves," and "Mute."
As it turns out, I wasn't far from wrong. Robert Ryan boxed in college and was 5-0, with three knockouts. He also boxed during the three years he was in the Marines and won a championship.
Hal Baylor had an amateur boxing record of 52-5, and went on to fight as a professional with a record of 15-8, so these two knew exactly what they were doing, and put on one Helluva show!
But he keeps getting back up, and the next thing you know is that Tiger is spread out on the mat, and Stoker wins the fight. That all would have been fantastic, except for the fact he was supposed to lose again.
After the fight, Stoker meets up with "Little Boy,' Tiger and Danny. He tries to explain to them that he was never told that he was supposed to take a fall, but they don't care, and beat the crap out of him.