THE SET UP (1949)

Over-the-hill boxer Bill ‘Stoker’ Thompson insists he can still win, though his sexy wife Julie pleads with him to quit. But his manager Tiny is so confident he will lose, he takes money for a “dive” from tough gambler Little Boy…without bothering to tell Stoker. Tension builds as Stoker hopes to “take” Tiger Nelson, unaware of what will happen to him if he does. Based upon a narrative poem published in 1928 by Joseph Moncure March, who gave up his job as the first managing editor of “The New Yorker” to devote himself to writing. On the strength of it, he went to Hollywood as a screenwriter, remaining there for a dozen years. In 1948 he volunteered to work on this film, but was turned down. He was incensed that his black boxer Pansy Jones was changed into the white Robert Wise said he was willing to cast a black actor as the lead character (as it was originally written), but since there were no African-American leading actors in Hollywood at the time, he was obligated to switch the character to a white man. Stoker. Robert Ryan was a boxing champion while a student at Dartmouth college. The clock on the square at the beginning shows 9:05PM, and the same clock at the end shows 10:16PM. The movie takes place in real time.

3 responses to “THE SET UP (1949)

  1. I used to manage his band, number 1. Number 2 is I used to manage a guy who made a fictionalized version of his life into a Broadway show, Mark Stew Stewart, “Passing Strange” but other than that I have no track record as a producer.
    But I agree the play would go differently with race as a subtext. Play, poem, movie, whatever.
    You know who should adapt JMM for a new version, Elif Batuman, who studied literature at Stanford and also trained in muy thai. ?!


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