Friday, July 13, 2018

TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at 12:15 a.m. ET (and 10 a.m. ET Sunday Morning) is Roadblock (1951); Plus The Harder They Fall, Saturday at Noon!



By David in TN
Thursday, July 12, 2018 at 11:44:00 P.M. EDT



TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at 12:15 a.m. ET (and 10 a.m. ET Sunday Morning) is Roadblock (1951). Unlike Party Girl, Roadblock is a classic RKO noir, with L.A. locations and a plot featuring a man (Charles McGraw) who falls for the sexiest woman he's ever seen, leading to his destruction.


Joan Dixon plays the woman. Eddie Muller describes Roadblock as a "Rock-solid noir about an insurance investigator who goes crooked for a dame. Tried and true trenches of RKO B unit. We could show that story in one form or another every week. Rock solid, because of Charles McGraw. Joan Dixon of Howard Hughes' harem puts him through his paces."



For a bonus, earlier Saturday at 12 p.m. ET, TCM has The Harder They Fall (1956) based on Budd Schulberg's novel about boxing corruption. Humphrey Bogart stars as an out-of-work columnist, whose paper has folded. He takes a PR job for a crooked boxing promoter played by Rod Steiger.


Steiger has a South American heavyweight he's building up for a big payday against the champion, played by former champion Max Baer. Since he's not very good, there is a series of fixed fights. Bogart's character faces a moral dilemma-should he do something dishonest for a big paycheck?


Edward Andrews plays a crooked manager ("We have to live with these bums") for one of the fighters who is supposed to take a dive.


Edward Andrews and George Cisar

This was Bogie's last film before his death from cancer. It's one of his best, IMO.


N.S.: Budd Schulberg took the real-life, 1920s, South American prizefighter, Luis Firpo, “the wild man of the Pampas,” and fictionalized him for this story about Toro Moreno, “the wild man of the Andes.”


“Dempsey Through the Ropes” by George Bellows 1923 Dempsey vs. Firpo Championship Bout (BOXREC)

Legend had it that Firpo had “won” a series of bouts that had been fixed, in order to get a championship fight with Jack Dempsey in 1923. Firpo and his supporters always denied this. No one knows for sure, and both sides have their partisans, but what we do know is that although at one point, Firpo knocked Dempsey out of the ring, Dempsey beat Firpo half to death.

Bogie and Mike Lane

Then again, that’s what Dempsey (6’1 1/2,” 187) did. He had won the world’s heavyweight championship by beating reigning champ Jess Willard (6’ 6 ½,” 242), who had knocked out the great Jack Johnson, almost to death.



Anonymous said...

Internet info:
In 1947 fighting aficionado Budd Schulberg wrote The Harder They Fall, a novel about a giant boxer whose fights are fixed. In 1956 a movie with the same name, and based on the novel, was released by Columbia Pictures. A highlight was the appearance of Max Baer, playing a fighter the mob could not fix who destroys the giant in his first fair fight. Critics drew parallels with the real-life Baer-Carnera fight two decades before. In response, Carnera unsuccessfully sued the movie company.

David In TN said...

There were two endings filmed for The Harder They Fall. In the one shown on TCM it ends with Bogart writing an article starting with "The boxing business must rid itself of the evil influence of racketeers and crooked managers, even if it takes an act of congress to do it."

The ending I saw on a late show run of the film 30 plus years ago had it "Boxing in the United States should be banned if it takes an act of congress to do it." This was the ending used in the theatrical run. Budd Schulberg complained. He didn't actually want boxing banned, just "cleaned up."

I think all prints now shown have the "rid itself of the evil influence of racketeers and crooked managers" ending.

David In TN said...

TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at 12:30 am ET (and 10 am ET Sunday Morning) is Dark Passage (1947).

Eddie Muller calls Dark Passage "the most unusual" of the Bogie-Bacall pairings. Humphrey Bogart plays an escaped convict wrongly convicted (is there any other kind in film noir) for murdering his wife. Lauren Bacall is an art student who hides him from the law and had attended his trial. Agnes Moorehead plays the shrew whose testimony got Bogie convicted. In one of the bizarre coincidences this film is full of, she's an acquaintance of Bacall's character.

We don't see Bogart's face for over half the film because a plastic surgeon worked on him. The camera is Bogart's eyes as in Robert Montgomery's Lady in the Lake. San Francisco locations are used. Clifton Young is a blackmailer and Housely Stevenson plays the plastic surgeon.