First Reporter: Can he box?
Eddie Willis: No Gene Tunney.
Second Reporter: Can he punch?
Eddie Willis: Not like Jack Dempsey.
Third Reporter: Well, what’s he got besides just being big?
Eddie Willis: He’s got an iron jaw and a cast-iron stomach. Not a man alive can hurt him.
The Harder They Fall (1956) Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger (Humphrey Bogart’s last film)
Loosely based on the career of fighter Primo Carnera. (His career was controversial. Some believe Carnera was “owned” by underworld figures who manipulated his career by fixing his early fights not only for monetary gain but also to give him a shot at the world heavyweight title.
Rod Steiger: “Of course I loved Bogart’s movies, so when I had a chance to work with him on The Harder They Fall I was thrilled. I was playing a mobster who owned a title contender, and Bogart was playing the journalist who I was trying to corrupt. We had many scenes together and he was a great professional. He would turn up every day at 9 o’clock. He would never turn up late and he would never stay longer than six.
“I remember one morning I walked with him to the set, we were shooting in New York, and we were just making small talk and I remember Bogart’s eyes were watering. That became the thing I most remembered from that movie. We had a young director called Mark Robson and while filming he would shout, ‘No close ups on Bogart!’ and I remember thinking at the time this was very insensitive. ‘No close ups on Bogart!’ he would yell, because of the eyes watering, and nobody knew why they were watering.
He kept his illness to himself and just got on with it, he didn’t want anybody’s sympathy and didn’t even react to the director hollering.
“Bogart never said anything and nobody would ask. He would just turn up every day and do his bit and go home, and in the end it was a great performance and the movie was pretty good. It wasn’t until after the film that we found out Humphrey had cancer and shortly after the movie was released he died. “I always thought how wonderfully brave he was. He kept his illness to himself and just got on with it, he didn’t want anybody’s sympathy and didn’t even react to the director hollering. It said a lot about the man and about the time. If anybody has so much as a broken fingernail these days, everybody has to know.”
by Mark Collings