Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Mickey Spillane falls asleep during the movie
RING OF FEAR (1954). Director: James Edward Grant.

Dublin O'Malley (Sean McClory of Valley of the Dragons), a former ring director for Clyde Beatty's circus, escapes from prison and commits murder while on his way back to the circus. Clyde Beatty (playing himself) decides to rehire O'Malley, who not only has a grudge against Beatty but is still carrying a torch for high-wire performer Valerie (Marian Carr of Indestructible Man), who now has a husband named Armand (John Bromfield). Fearing his circus is jinxed, Beatty asks Mickey Spillane (also playing himself) to investigate, along with an undercover cop named Jack Stang (also playing himself). Two other characters are a stereotypically stupid Latino named Pedro Gonzales (played, believe it or not, by Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez) and a hand named Twitchy (Emmet Lynn), who is a little too fond of the bottle. Ring of Fear seems to be a 90 minute ad for both Clyde Beatty's circus and Mickey Spillane's novels, as there's no other reason for it to exist. There are some splendid acts in the circus, especially those extremely well-trained elephants, but there isn't much of a plot, little suspense, hardly any excitement, and absolutely no surprises. Nine years later, Spillane played his creation, Mike Hammer, in The Girl Hunters, but he is only passable playing himself. He played a lawyer in Mommy (and its sequel) in 1995. Clyde Beatty played himself years earlier in the serial The Lost Jungle. The best performance is by Emmet Lynn.

Verdict: Almost as bad as Circus of Fear. **.


Gary R. said...

Emmett Lynn's character name of "Twitchy" sounds like he wasn't straying too far from his familiar role as a comic sidekick in 'B' Westerns.

Reportedly, Jack Stang was Spillane's long-time friend and the inspiration for Mike Hammer. Spillane always wanted Stang to play Hammer in a film, but it never happened.

William said...

I knew Spillane wanted Stang to play Mike Hammer, but I never knew he was the inspiration for the character. He seemed a little too stiff in this movie as compared to others who played the role, such as Ralph Meeker and Biff Elliot, among others. Anyway we'll never know how he would have turned out.