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Ring of Fear

3.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

THE FAMED CLYDE BEATTY CIRCUS BECOMES A TERRIFYING VENUE AS IT SUFFERS A SERIES OF APPARENT ACCIDENTS - MISHAPS THAT ARE THE THE DEADLY ACTS OF A DETERMINED SABOTEUR. CIRCUS IMPRESARIO & FAMED ANIMAL TRAINER CYLDE BEATTY PLAYS HIMSELF. MYSTERY WRITER MICKEY SPILLANE (AS HIMSELF) TRIES TO SOLVE THE BAFFLING CASE.

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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

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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: #139,228 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ring of Fear" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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A GREAT MOVIE TREASURE THAT I HADN'T SEEN IN OVER TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. IT WAS STILL AS SCARY AS I REMEMBERED. AND IT WAS RELEASED AT A MOST FORTUNATE TIME, WITH THE SUDDEN DEATH OF MICKEY SPILLANE, WE GET TO SEE THE MAN BEHIND "MIKE HAMMER", ACT AS HIS CHARACTER WOULD HAVE. ALSO WE SEE SOME OF THE GREATEST ACTORS OF THE TIME LIKE LLOYD NOLAN AND SEAN MCCLORY.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROMPT DELIVERY OF IT.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
On September 24, 2011, I ordered "Ring of Fear" movie on DVD for only $4.82 plus shipping and handling from Amazon. I remember how happy I was and still am with the BARGAIN price. It arrived within 5 days in excellent condition--a never-before-used DVD within the sealed plastic case. This was not a copy, but the original DVD. Thank you to Amazon!! I recommend this movie to anyone looking for a circus movie and even if the price is a little higher than what I paid. (Chase)
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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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Format: DVD
I came to this with minimal expectations but I like B movies and have enjoyed other movies with Spillaine and Beatty. The movie did not meet even my minimal expectations (and I watch old serials so that is saying a lot) The problem is that this is about 30 minutes of a real thriller and the rest is just films of Beatty's Circus- that in itself would not be bad if you were into Circus History as this is all under a real big top not the standard convention center where circuses appear today but the acts with the exception of Beatty's work in the big cat cage are all shot from the back row and thus are pretty uninteresting. The first ten minutes and last 20 minutes have some action but the script is weak (you will guess the ending once the real movie starts at about half way). I watched this while exercising and did not have a fast forward on a machine - if so I would have skimmed a lot of the Circus material which is quite generic and essentially filler for a movie with little else. Its a shame as it would have been fun seeign Spilaine and the Mike Hammer inspiration guy do their stuff but they don't come on until mid film and even some of the sabotage at the circus isn't shown! Instead it is just described by Pat Obrien as he briefs spillaine. Spilliane solves the mystery by "inspiration" basically so they can do a 10 minute action sequence at the end. If you are a Spillaine completist this has its moments but use the fast forward! And don't go into this with a lot of expectations!
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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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