Bogey plays a tireless sports hack, Willis, who is roped into talking up crooked fight promoter Rod Steiger's boy into a title bout. As the lies get ever bolder in order to keep up the heavyweight pretense, Willis suufers a crisis of conscience.
Bogart's last film is an efficient boxing melodrama with the star noticeably haggard, but still attacking his flawed character with an effortless confidence. He's a down-at-heel sports journalist hired by Rod Steiger's crooked fight promoter to build up his new contender "The Wild Man of the Andes", Toro Moreno (Mike Lane).
Though he's built like a bull, Toro has a "powder puff punch and a glass jaw" which gives HB the difficult job of fabricating a lot of lies to smooth the fighter through a succession of fixed fights on the way to a crack at the title. From its opening scene, with headline style credits looming out from the New York waterfront, through to its final big verbal confrontation between Bogart and Steiger, The Harder They Fall moves along at a terrific pace. The tidy idealism of the ending tends to square badly with the cynicism and rampant prostitution of integrity in every scene that's gone before, and the real ex-champ Max Baer does look a little pudgy still to be king of the ring, but Steiger's tour-de-force lack of scruples makes Gordon Gekko look like a choirboy.
A raw, blood-soaked glare into the seedy underworld of sport, with terrific performances by two of Hollywood's heavweights.