Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The harder they fall

He washed his glass and wiped it clean, to destroy the evidence, and looked at me steadily. "Mr. Lewis, what is it that turned a fine sport into a dirty business?"
"Money," I said.
"It's money," he went on, as if he hadn't heard me. "Money. Too much money for the promoters, too much money for the managers, too much money for the fighters."
"Too much money for everybody except the press agents," I said. I was feeling sorrier for myself at the moment than I was for the game. That's what the battle always did to me.
"I tell you, Mr. Lewis, it's money," Charles was saying.
"An athletic sport in an atmosphere of money is like a girl from a good family in a house of ill fame." p.7 The Harder They Fall

Budd Schulberg was not only a novelist but a screenplay writer who in his most famous title depicts the scandal and corruption of the boxing world. The story follows Eddie Willis a writer and press agent whose moral compass goes askew when he begins to work for Nick Belinzo, a boxing promoter. Belinzo contracts the behemoth peasant Toro Molina to become a fighter and spectacle for him. Toro is unaware of the complexities and business of boxing. Trusting his newfound friends Toro is led along on a string through a series of created victories. Each fight is made more spectacular and Toro is promised more money and all that he desires. In time with the spectacle is the diminishing of Toro's control over his life. Toro is eventually given a pittance of a payment for his work while the others, the promoters and fat cats get rich. Having no other line of recourse Toro is damned to continue to sell himself to fight.

While the action centers on Toro the realization of the grasp of capital depresses Eddie and makes him feel like a beaten fighter. In this way the novel is a classic noir. The main character is aware of fate and the social structures that create his fate but is totally unable to do anything about it no matter his valiant efforts.

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