The movie, written by Abraham Polonsky and directed by Robert Rossen, is considered the first great boxing picture; it's also a cautionary tale about the lure of money—and how it can derail even a strong common man in his pursuit of success.
Charley Davis, against the wishes of his mother, becomes a boxer. As he becomes more successful the fighter becomes surrounded by shady characters, including an unethical promoter named Roberts, who tempt the man with a number of vices. Charley finds himself faced with increasingly difficult choices.
The film received positive reviews when first released. Some modern film reviews find the film's message heavy handed today but most reviewers continue to praise Garfield's performance.
TV Guide's review notes "The fight sequences, in particular, brought a kind of realism to the genre that had never before existed (James Wong Howe wore skates and rolled around the ring shooting the fight scenes with a hand-held camera). A knockout on all levels."
It's known for its fight scenes which influenced Raging Bull (1980).