THE HARDER THEY FALL
1956, Sony Repertory, 109 min, USA, Dir: Mark Robson

In this adaptation of Budd Schulberg’s bestseller, Humphrey Bogart (in his last role) plays burned-out sportswriter Eddie Willis, hired by a crooked boxing promoter (Rod Steiger) to tout his circus-freak heavyweight as a legit contender (based on the true story of Primo Carnera). Director Mark Robson crafts a fitting finale to Bogart’s legendary career and lands a few devastating blows to the reputation of the "Sweet Science." Also featuring Jan Sterling, Mike Lane, Max Baer, “Jersey” Joe Walcott and Nehemiah Persoff.


HARD TIMES
1975, Sony Repertory, 93 min, USA, Dir: Walter Hill

Walter Hill’s debut feature as director is this no-holds-barred tale of a bare-knuckle boxer (Charles Bronson) in Depression-era New Orleans and the fast-talking promoter (James Coburn) who parlays Bronson’s talents as a pugilist into quick money. “There's the temptation, with material like this, to fashion parables and give the characters portentous speeches about the meaning of it all. But HARD TIMES never steps back from itself, never lectures us. Its theme is buried in its material, and it's a hard-edged action film all the way.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.


HELLO DESTROYER
2016, 110 min, Canada, Dir: Kevan Funk

Kevan Funk’s startling debut feature is an elegant film about the inelegant realities of being a hockey enforcer and literally fighting one’s way to the big leagues. Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson, TIFF Rising Star 2016) plays for the minor league Prince George Warriors; in his role as the team’s tough guy, Tyson is expected to protect the more skilled players. Although thoughtful and somewhat shy off the ice, he is told constantly by the team’s coaches that his only route to the professional ranks is by being aggressive on it. When his violent play leads to the serious injury of an opposing player, Tyson suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the team, the league, the community and even his family. An astute critique of the culture of violence inherent in Canada’s national sport, HELLO DESTROYER is also a fascinating drama of identity, masculinity and isolation - if Ingmar Bergman had made a film about hockey, this would be it. Winner of five Vancouver Film Critics Circle awards, including Best Canadian Film.


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