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Ring of Fear

11 customer reviews

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(Jun 06, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The famed Clyde Beatty Circus becomes a terrifying entertainment venue as it suffers a series of apparent accidents - mishaps that are actually the deadly acts of a determined saboteur. Circus impresario and famed animal trainer Clyde Beatty plays himself in this whodunit set under the Big Top. Celebrated mystery writer Mickey Spillane (as himself) arrives on the scene and attempts to solve the baffling case.

If you're a sucker for the big top--and specifically if you're a sucker for the cornball melodrama of The Greatest Show on Earth--you might be the audience for Ring of Fear, an obvious knock-off of Cecil B. DeMille's Oscar-winner. Otherwise, it would take not just sawdust in the blood but sawdust in the head to enjoy this silly suspense movie. It's set in the Clyde Beatty Circus, and the illustrious Mr. Beatty (a famed lion-tamer in his day) gets top billing--although his is by no means the central performance. A lunatic (Sean McClory, apparently wearing Charlton Heston's jacket and hat from Greatest Show) escapes from prison in order to stalk a former flame, circus trapeze artist Marian Carr. In a bizarre plot twist, the famous writer of hard-boiled novels, Mickey Spillane, arrives at the circus to research a story and ends up investigating the strange acts of sabotage that are dogging the big top. (A truly wonderful flashback informs us that not only has McClory returned to the circus to win back the aerialist, he also wants revenge on Beatty, who once laughed at him for showing cowardice in the presence of a jungle cat.) Mickey Spillane plays himself, and although he can't act much he gives a nice presentation of a 1950s hep cat. Supposedly Spillane worked on some of the dialogue; one hopes he wrote his own gotcha to the villain, "Your eyes... they belong to a homicidal maniac." Lots of footage is devoted to Beatty snapping his whip at lions and tigers in his act, but other than that there's surprisingly little circus action. The John Wayne-Robert Fellows company (later known as Batjac) produced this one, which is in good, early CinemaScope. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Clyde Beatty, Pat O'Brien, Mickey Spillane, Sean McClory, Marian Carr
  • Directors: James Edward Grant, William A. Wellman
  • Writers: Mickey Spillane, James Edward Grant, Paul Fix, Philip MacDonald
  • Producers: D. Ross Lederman, John Wayne
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 4.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BDH6D0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,821 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ring of Fear" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Max A. Collins on October 11, 2005
Format: DVD
For years this rare John Wayne production, starring mystery writer Mickey Spillane as himself, was around only in a black and white pan-and-scan version. If this disc is widescreen as promised, it's a real find for noir fans, mystery buffs and circus freaks. In addition to Clyde Beatty's circus in technicolor, the film offers Mickey as himself with his (late) friend Jack Stang playing Mike Hammer (the name is alluded to but never quite used...because Spillane had sold the rights elsewhere, and his ex-Marine pal Stang was his choice for Hammer, rejected by producer Victor Saville for I, THE JURY). Famously, the movie was in trouble and Mickey himself did an uncredited rewrite, for which Wayne paid him with a white Jag (which Spillane still has in perfect condition!). The music, by the way, is also courtesy of Spillane -- from a MIKE HAMMER album Stan Purdy made with Mickey about a year before. Not a great film, but a real slice of '50s pop culture. Spillane starred in only two films -- RING OF FEAR and THE GIRL HUNTERS, in which he played Hammer himself...because in RING OF FEAR, Spillane (not Stang) comes across as the Mike Hammer type.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bennet Pomerantz VINE VOICE on September 20, 2006
Format: DVD
I enjoy Mickey Spillane the author..However, Spillane the actor is another animal. In Ring of Fear, Spillane attacks a role he can handle Mickey Spillane. However in Ring of Fire, Spillane should have stuck to writing

This Greatest Show on Earth wantabee takes place at the Clyde Beatty Circus. So if it takes place at the Beatty's circus, who else should play Clyde Beatty but Beatty him.

Character actor Pat O'Brien and Sean McClory eat up the action and keep Beatty and Spillane from acting too much (thank Gawd). McClory shines thru in this part mof the Ring master with past. Beatty and Spillane know the orginal careers, howevere they seem wooden here in this Whodunit

This classic B was done by John Wayne Batjac company and presented in Widescreen format. There are NO EXTRAS oin this package

So if want Amateur Night at the Movies, this is worth it

Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey M. Bembaron on August 13, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Byron Kolln HALL OF FAME on August 17, 2007
Format: DVD
RING OF FEAR is one of the more offbeat projects from John Wayne's Batjac production company. It's a lurid combination of backstage circus drama and psychological thriller; yet by trying to be so many different styles and genres, it ends up not being much of anything.

Escaped mental patient Dublin O'Malley (Sean McClory) returns to his previous employment at the Clyde Beatty Circus to wreak his revenge. The target of his vendetta is the lovely aerialist Valerie St. Dennis (Marian Carr), an old girlfriend. Mystery author Mickey Spillane is called in to investigate as Dublin's crimes grow more sinister.

RING OF FEAR was primarily made as a showcase for the real-life Clyde Beatty Circus; Beatty himself gives quite a competant performance and the circus acts are well-photographed. Marian Carr is a very beautiful woman but her role of Valerie is so one-dimensional it's scary. Mickey Spillane's inclusion adds another oddball elememt to this very strange movie.

Only Sean McClory adds any sort of credibility with his searing, sensitive portrayal of the unhinged Dublin. The movie itself plays out in a brisk 90 minutes with plenty of lush visuals in CinemaScope to distract audiences from the wafer-thin plot.

It's not "The Greatest Show on Earth", but RING OF FEAR is certainly worth a look for classic movie fans. (Single-sided, single-layer disc).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ring of Fear wins the curio crown in the recent collection of non-John Wayne Batjac films from Paramount hands down, with Sean McClory's escaped homicidal maniac Dublin O'Malley (they knew how to give characters names in those days!) heading to Clyde Beatty's circus to wreak revenge on the distinctly odd lion tamer (playing himself with an interesting array of grimaces) and win back the trapeze artiste (Marian Carr) who spurned him by causing ever more dangerous accidents. Naturally, Beatty and circus manager Pat O'Brien choose the obvious course of action - no, not going to the cops, stupid, but bringing in Mickey Spillane (playing himself) and Jack Stang (the cop who was the model for Mike Hammer, playing himself) to find the guilty party.

Aside from McClory, coming over like a garrulous young Benny Hill, no-one has much of a part, which isn't a bad thing considering Spillane is the only one who is even remotely convincing playing himself - Stang looks like he's taken a few punches too many and Beatty literally has to shake his head to change his expression: the two men's reaction shot to an offscreen death-by-tiger is almost worth the price of admission on its own. The script is pretty mundane - no input from Spillane, but instead credited to Paul Fix, Philip MacDonald and John Wayne regular James Edward Grant, who also directs - but it's not without a certain sideshow appeal. And where else could you get to see Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez lose a fight with a kangaroo? Annoyingly, although an extract from the Spillane-hosted trailer appears on other Batjac DVDs, the full trailer hasn't been included: in fact, aside from a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer and a stereo remix, every effort has been spared on this no-extras disc.
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