Harry Fabian is a London hustler with ambitious plans that never work out. One day, when he encounters the most famous Greco-Roman wrestler in the world, Gregorius, at a London wrestling arena run by his son Kristo, he dreams up a scheme that he thinks will finally be his ticket to financial independence. As Fabian attempts to con everyone around him to get his scheme to work, he of course only ends up conning himself. This is an interesting tale of blind ambition, self-deception, broken dreams, and how a man who always thinks he's ahead of the game ends up tripping himself very badly.

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Jules Dassin no doubt established his reputation with this picture, the best he ever made, a virtually flawless and absorbing film noir with multiple plot twists and a great collection of characters. Richard Widmark, a real-life war hero, always preferred hero roles in movies; but he made his screen reputation playing a sleazy rat in his first movie, and he does an even better job in this film. Although the story is great, I was somewhat distracted by noticing the relentless excellence of the cinematography, lighting, direction, acting, et cetera. Despite the summary, there is very little professional wrestling on screen; but what there is will teach you a lot. Gene Tierney, a true superstar of the 1950's, does not have much screen time in this one; but what she's got is most welcome. Hollywood in 2007 would have no ability to make a movie like this one. What we get now is a silly bloodbath from the Coen Brothers --- posing as excellence. Thank God for the oldies.

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