The Harder They Fall

Synopsis: After 17 years as a recognized and respected sports journalist in New York City, Eddie Willis finds himself out of a job when his newspaper folds. He's approached by a major fight promoter, Nick Benko, to act as a public relations man for his new heavyweight fighter Toro Moreno. Eddie knows the how the fight game works and after watching Toro in the ring, realizes Toro is nothing but a stiff who has no hope of succeeding. Benko offers him a sizable salary and an unlimited expense account and given his financial situation, he agrees. Benko's strategy to make money is one that has been used time again. Starting in California and moving east, they arrange a series of fights for Toro with stiffs and has-beens. All of the fights are rigged to build up his record and get him a fight with the heavyweight champion, Buddy Brannen, where they will make a sizable profit at the gate. Along the way, one boxer gets killed in the ring and Eddie begins to have serious doubts about what he is doing.
Director(s): Mark Robson
Production: Sony Pictures Entertainment
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
109 min

Coming, Danny.

We're late, George.

- Eddie's not here.

- You tell him 7:00?

- I told him.

- I'm not sure he's right for us.

- We need a top writer.

- Press agents are a dime a dozen.

I want an established sportswriter,

you understand?

He's a has-been.

He's equal to the big columnists.

The boys like and believe him.

- Why do you think he'll work for you?

- Because I think he's ready.

Now do you understand?

You understand? Fine.

You've cleaned the place

since I was here.

- I'm glad you made it.

- What are you hiding?

When I find a good thing,

I like to keep it quiet.

- Who is it this time?

- See what he's doing.

Eddie, you're a real, real big talent.

I read your column every day.

When the paper folded I missed it.

Skip the buildup.

Get to the main event.

I got a position. It's not

the usual press agent's routine.

It's a job for an important man.

It pays important money. Interested?

- I didn't come to work out.

- All right. Now, the fight...

- What's he doing?

- Getting ready, Mr. Benko.

- Tell him to hurry it up!

- Yes, sir.

The fight game is falling apart.

The boys are getting too smart.

They wanna go to college

and be doctors and lawyers.

My boys went abroad for new material,

and they came up with a winner.

- The guy's name is Toro Moreno.

- I never heard of him.

I told you he was new, didn't I?

Mr. Agrandi, Mr. Willis is a famous

sportswriter. He'll make Toro famous.

- A pleasure.

- Likewise.

- We shouldn't keep him waiting, right?

- No, no, Seor Benko.

That spic's Toro's manager. I brought

him because Toro's lost without him.

- What's this pay?

- Take a look first.

- Lf the money's bad, why waste time?

- All right, 250 a week.

- You'll have to up it.

- You'll have an open-end account.

Leo writes the checks, charges it off

to business. For you, it's tax-free.

All right. I'll take a look at him.

I can pick them, can't I?

You can pick the right people

for the right job.

I've been after you eight years.

You turned me down 20 times.

Did I get discouraged? No, sir.

You wait long enough,

everything falls in your lap.

Like rotten apples, huh?

- Danny, let's see what he can do.

- George.

Feel him out. Don't let

anything go till I tell you.

You get it like you want it,

Mr. McKeogh.

All right. Sit down and shut up!

- Come on, get down.

- Let's see if he can punch.

- Let him belt you one, George.

- Okay.

He can't hit.

He's a stiff, musclebound.

- Now, let's see if he can take it.

- Open up a little.

Once in the belly.

In the kidneys.

- On the button, George.

- Okay.

A powder-puff punch and a glass jaw.

That's a great combination.

It's just like I told you.

Toro is an amateur.

- He's strong as a bull.

- Take him to the shower.

- You too. You take a shower too.

- All right. Go on, move.

Vince, Frank, take a walk.

There's a million bucks in Toro.

How do we unlock it?

- You won't.

- Why do you think you're here?

I need a solid contact

with the working press.

- An in-between guy, and that's you.

- You told me I was a big talent.

- We're plain-talking people.

- It's a waste of time...

Did I ask you? Then shut up.

All right, Willis, you're on.

Even with a mediocre heavyweight

he'll get beat.

He's a giant!

You can't drum up copy on him?

- I can get him space.

- He is a natural.

I can get anyone to box,

but Toro can fill a stadium.

- Why am I in this business?

- To make a buck.

Me too.

But what happens in his first fight?

That's Max's department.

You'll hire a tank artist

to take a dive.


- You got the wrong man.

- See?

Shut up! He's old enough

to talk for himself.

The fight game today

is like show business.

They're not fighters, they're actors.

The best showman becomes champ.

You wouldn't hesitate

to publicize an actor.

You argue pretty good

and I like the money.

But what happens when he

fights a guy you can't fix?

- I won't let my investment get hurt.

- No one gets hurt.

Come on, Eddie.

Come up with something.

Well, come on, give me an idea.

Don't fight it! What are you trying

to do, hold on to your self-respect?

Did your self-respect hold your job

or give you a new column?

Eddie, if you help me, I'll help you.

- You can't kick him off in this town.

- Then where do we kick off?


They like freak attractions.

Fine, fine. Leo, you get the tickets

ready by tomorrow morning.


You've tried to get me for eight years.

All right, you got me. It's a deal.


You make me nervous.

How come I got you so easy?

Your timing's perfect. For 17 years

I wrote a newspaper column.

Never missed a deadline.

Suddenly I'm out in the street,

running again.

A good newspaperman like you

can't get a job?

A newspaper job only pays a living.

I want a bank account.

A man past his 40s

shouldn't have to run anymore.

Line up press conferences,

commercial tie-ins...

...personal appearances

on TV and radio.

- Who are you talking to?

- Art Leavitt in L.A.

- Hello, Art.

- That was Beth. Art says hello.

He's great. He's ready

for a crack at the title now.

I wanna build him up fast.

Of course I'm excited.

I got something to be excited about.

I'll see you tomorrow in L.A.

For dinner. Thanks.

- You leaving town?

- I'm back in business. Public relations.

- What firm are you going with?

- We're taking off tonight.

- I thought I'd go tomorrow.

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Philip Yordan

Philip Yordan (April 1, 1914 – March 24, 2003) was an American screenwriter of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s who also produced several films. He was also known as a highly regarded script doctor. Born to Polish immigrants, he earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois and a law degree at Chicago-Kent College of Law. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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