Cast & Crew
As he waits in a hospital, bar owner Nick Samson recalls the events that have led up to this day: Nick's brother, crippled boxing manager Pete, learns of a prisoner named Terry Williams who is winning every jailhouse boxing fight. Impressed by what he sees, Pete makes a deal with Terry to get him released if he agrees to train with Pete. Terry, who was framed for murder after he unintentionally knocked a man down on the street, agrees. Pete then convinces Nick, who will do anything to please his ailing brother, to arrange for Terry's release with crooked judge Sam Hannum. Days later, as Terry trains at Pete's gymnasium, he meets sports reporter Al Bell, trainer Longshot McGinnis, and Punchy, an ex-fighter who became mentally impaired after too many hits to the head. Nick's girl friend, Candy Allen, is Punchy's ex-fiancée and now despises Pete, whom she blames for Punchy's condition. Terry is a natural athlete and soon is winning every fight. When Hannum, who is running for governor, asks to be photographed with Terry after one fight, the boxer recognizes him as the judge who falsely indicted him and refuses. Terry tours the country and wins each fight, but remains more interested in finding Joe Devito, the man he believes set him up, than his career. Meanwhile, Hannum's niece June agrees to aid a society fundraiser by arranging a charity fight between Terry and heavyweight boxing champion Joe Thompson. At the same time, Bell urges Pete to pit Terry against Thompson, but Pete, remembering how Punchy was promoted too quickly, insists that Terry needs one more year of practice. June visits Terry to urge him to help the charitable effort, and although he refuses out of respect for Pete, he makes June promise to see him again. Within weeks, the two fall in love and he reveals his past to her. Pete watches in desperation as Terry's boxing suffers as a result of his time with June, and so forbids Terry to see her. Hannum also threatens to revoke Terry's parole if he continues to date June, but Terry snubs them both. Hannum then discovers that the news syndicate will back him as a candidate for governor if he arranges for Terry to fight in the charity event, and so pressures Nick to convince Pete to let Terry fight. Nick, knowing how much Terry's success means to Pete, refuses, but after Hannum has Nick's bar raided, he visits Pete. Pete reveals that all his dreams are wrapped up in Terry, and that he will not be able to live if Terry fails. To gain control of Terry, Hannum jails Devito in order to keep him quiet. As June waits for Terry at the gym, Candy warns her about the dangers of letting him fight the champ before he is ready. Pete then enters and tells June that Terry will be sent back to prison if she does not stop interfering. When Terry comes in, however, he informs Pete that he must leave June alone, or he will lose his prize fighter. Finally, feeling pressured by Nick and Hannum, Terry agrees to the fight, and secretly marries June while he trains. As the weeks pass, she grows increasingly worried and makes him promise that the Thompson match will be his last. On the day of the fight, Terry receives a tip on Devito's whereabouts and races to find him. He shows up, exhausted, moments before the fight is to begin and leaves Devito, who has confessed to framing him, in the office with Longshot. As the fight begins, June waits in the office, and upon overhearing Devito discuss his cohort, a judge, becomes suspicious of her uncle. Pete watches the fight and grows more and more distraught as Thompson repeatedly punches Terry in the face, but Terry remains in the fight. In the office, Hannum has Nick knock out Longshot and then steal Devito's confession and release him. When June sees that Devito has been let go, she realizes her uncle's scheme and reveals to him that he cannot jail Terry because she is married to him. In the ring, Terry goes down for the last time and is brought backstage on a stretcher. Pete collapses from a stroke just before the doctor revives Terry and declares that he will be fine. Back in the present, Nick learns that Pete has died and remembers his brother's prophesy that he could not live without his dreams.
Max M. Gilford
Robert M. Leeds
The working title of this film was Decision. Hollywood Reporter production charts list the sound director as Fred Dyke, but this appears to have been a misprinting of sound director Fred Scheid's name. Breakdown was the first and only feature film produced by Theodore J. Ticktin's Pegasus Productions, Inc. An April 1956 Hollywood Reporter item reported that Ticktin sued Jack Broder, Realart Pictures Inc. and Cheryl-TV Corp. for $500,000 for releasing Breakdown on television too soon after the film's theatrical release, resulting in lowered theatrical profits. Breakdown also marked the last film of Stephen Auer, who had been a producer at Republic studios for many years. Auer died in February 1954.