Cheap hustler/spiv Widmark tries to make a name for himself by cornering the market on wrestling in London, but only ends up causing pain for everyone around him and himself.
Based rather loosely on Gerald Kersh's 1938 novel, this film is one of the best noirs and certainly the best wrestling film ever made. Bleak and subtle, it's the story of "artists without an art" who try to climb out of the lower depths, but are doomed to failure by circumstances. Finely directed by Dassin, who knows enough to throw some black humor in, and finely acted by all, especially Sullivan and Withers, who make their awful characters beleiveably human. The best performance, though, is by non-actor Zbysko. Everyone else gives a fine perfomance, but he's the one putting his soul on film.
Maligned and ignored by the blueblood prig critics of the day like Bosley Crowther (who remembers him now?), but since re-evaluated as one of the finest films of its type, and rightly so.
Note: The British version differs in both running time, scenes, and musical score, but has unfortunately never been made available on video. Thus some of the names listed on IMDb, etc., are nowhere to be seen in the US version that has become the default standard.
The 1992 remake is perhaps closer to the plot of the source novel, but is purely sub B-movie material and utterly dispensible.