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The Crooked Circle

The Crooked Circle(1957)

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After noted sports editor Ken Cooper congratulates a boxer named Chavez for winning his match, Chavez cryptically responds that he needs to "get lost like Joe Kelly." The next day, when Chavez is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Cooper decides to find Joe, a once promising boxer who suddenly quit the game and dropped out of sight. Cooper finds Joe living in Willow Springs, a village where he runs a fishing lodge with his younger brother Tommy. When Cooper arrives driving an expensive convertible, Tommy's girl friend, Carol Smith, urges him to ask Cooper to help him get started as a professional boxer. Although Joe coached Tommy into becoming a first-rate fighter, he opposes his brother turning professional. Tommy tells Carol that he will not go against his brother's wishes, prompting her to accuse him of lacking ambition and being "tied to Joe's apron strings." Their argument abruptly ends when Carol states that she no longer wants to date Tommy. The next day, the sulking Tommy asks Cooper for a ride to the city. When Joe objects, Tommy taunts him about quitting the fight business, and Joe angrily slugs him. Cooper urges Joe to reconcile with Tommy, and after the brothers make up, Joe asks Cooper to help guide Tommy. Joe also warns Cooper that Tommy must change his name before embarking on his new career. Carol happily kisses Tommy when he informs her that he is leaving with Cooper the next day. In the city, Cooper takes Tommy to meet manager Al Taylor, who, impressed by Tommy's prowess, offers him a contract. In his first match, under the name of "Tommy Patrick," Tommy easily defeats his seasoned opponent, thus attracting the attention of manager Larry Ellis, who asks Taylor to sell him a piece of Tommy's contract. When Taylor refuses, Ellis, who is part of a crooked gambling ring that includes Max Maxwell, the owner of the boxing arena, and gambler Sam Lattimer, arranges for Maxwell to replace Tommy in his next bout. Insinuating that Tommy was dropped because of Taylor's incompetence, Ellis urges Tommy to change managers. When Tommy blames Taylor for his exclusion from the match, Taylor tears up his contract, enabling Tommy to sign with Ellis. After eight straight wins, Tommy decides to buy Carol an engagement ring, but when his winnings fall short of the cost of the ring, Ellis offers Tommy $1,000 for throwing a fight. Tommy objects, prompting Ellis to explain that boxing is just "show business" and that it is important to lose once in a while to create suspense. He then informs Tommy that his bouts were all fixed to turn him into a winner. Ellis tells Sam that the naïve Tommy has agreed to throw the fight, enabling the gambler to make a killing by betting against Tommy, the odds-on favorite. Before placing his bet, however, Sam insists on meeting with Tommy to insure that he has agreed to throw the fight. Surprised when Tommy loses to a much weaker opponent, Cooper writes a column condemning corruption in the ring. The next day, Joe and Carol pay Tommy a surprise visit. Tommy presents Carol with the diamond engagement ring, and after she leaves to go to the market, Joe, who watched the match on television, accuses Tommy of throwing the fight and warns that he "will wind up in the gutter." Admitting that he deliberately lost, Tommy parrots Ellis' rationalization that boxing is just "show business." Joe then confides that he was involved with Ellis, Maxwell and Sam until he won a fight he should have lost and had to "disappear." Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Tommy agrees to accompany Joe to Cooper's office where they offer to help him expose Ellis' racket. After they are gone, Carol cleans the apartment until Ellis arrives to offer Tommy another fixed fight. She then innocently divulges that Tommy and his brother Joe are at Cooper's office. Realizing that Tommy must be the brother of Joe Kelly, Ellis notifies Maxwell that they are in danger of being exposed. Ellis then plots to have Sam eliminate Tommy. Knowing that Tommy plans to leave town for a few days, Ellis hires another boxer to pose as Tommy, then takes Maxwell to Tommy's apartment, where they find the impostor shaving, his back turned toward Ellis and Sam. Pretending to be Tommy, the impostor reassures Sam that he will lose the match. However, Ellis neglects to tell Tommy that he is to lose, and, at the bout, as Tommy, still unaware that Ellis is setting him up, pummels McFee, his opponent, Cooper notices that Sam is scowling and senses that something is wrong. Learning that Sam has bet heavily on McFee, Cooper realizes that Ellis has set up Tommy. After Tommy knocks out McFee in the second round, Cooper warns Joe that his brother is in danger. As Joe hurries to Tommy's dressing room to hustle him out of the building, Ellis tells Sam, who has lost $60,000 on the match, that Tommy has double-crossed them. In the parking lot, Sam's thugs jump Joe, shove Tommy into their car and speed away. Furious, Joe breaks into Maxwell's office and threatens to kill Sam unless he discloses where Tommy is. After Sam reveals that his thugs are taking Tommy to a dead-end alley where they plan to run him down, Cooper notifies the police. In the alley, the thugs are about to run over Tommy when the police arrive, and in the ensuing shootout, both thugs are wounded. Soon after, Tommy and Carol are married, and after Cooper's exposé clears Tommy of all wrongdoing, Joe promises to make him a champion and Taylor agrees to be his manager again.