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The Set-Up Blu-ray Review


“The Set-Up” is a winner.

Told in real time, 1949’s “The Set-Up” is a boxing film and a film noir all in one. The story revolves around a 35 year old boxer (Stoker Thompson AKA Bill) who still believes he can win a fight and score a bigger cash prize. His wife (Julie) and his team (including his manager) aren’t so sure. In fact, his manager fixes the fight with a powerful gangster figuring he would lose to the young talented boxer Tiger Nelson. Stoker is unaware of this fact until well in the fight. How will it all pan out? That would be telling.

Over the course of a tight 72 minutes, “The Set-Up” is nothing short of riveting. Directed by the late great and versatile Robert Wise (best known for films like “The Sound Of Music,” “West Side Story,” “The Haunting,” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”), the noir tale (which is based on a poem) is very intimate, stylish, and grounded thanks to the real time approach. Under less capable hands, it could have fallen flat or come off as stagy, but that’s never the case here. The real time storytelling makes the movie even more engrossing as you get to know Stoker and other boxer’s hopes and dreams, explore the strained dynamic between Stoker and Julie, see various fan perspectives, and experience Stoker’s big boxing battle in its entirety. It’s really quite ahead of its time.

Speaking of the characters, the cast here is aces. Robert Ryan gives one of the best performances of his career as the has been boxer Stoker. He really makes this layered character come to life. Audrey Totter (who plays Julie) also shines as the loving, but conflicted wife of Stoker. The rest of the cast which includes the likes of George Tobias, Alan Baxter, Wallace Ford and Percy Helton shine in their respective roles as well.

If I had one quibble, it would be the fact that the manager didn’t bother to tell Stoker that the fight was fixed. I doubt many (if any) person would tempt fate like that even if that person thought it was a sure thing. Granted, it was done entirely for dramatic purposes, but it’s still ridiculous.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? Expect a wonderful B&W print.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? This 2.0 track delivers a crisp Mono sound.

The lone extra is a commentary by Robert Wise and Martin Scorsese (they are not recorded together however). Wise gives a lot of behind-the-scenes and technical information while Scorsese expresses his appreciation for the film.

September 26, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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