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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

RING OF FEAR (1954)


Low-ball circus inanity from John Wayne’s production company, megged by Duke’s favorite script polisher, James Edward Grant. Grant had directed once before (THE ANGEL AND THE BADMAN/’47), but Wayne wisely stayed off-camera this time. The nonsense begins as Sean McCory’s criminal psychopath uses a touch o’ the blarney to murder his way out of prison and back to his old job as Ring Master for the Clyde Beatty Circus. Why, there’s Clyde himself!, with his alarming lion & tiger taming act. (The cages the poor beasts live in are even more alarming.) Pat O’Brien is on hand to run the show, but he has to bring in Mickey Spillane (yep, that Mickey Spillane) to find out who’s trying to sabotage the Big Top. There are a couple of nice scenes showing how the circus sets up in a small town, but everything else (story, plot construction, comic relief, dialogue & acting) is pure amateurville. Wayne must have liked it, though. He had Grant write his own take on the genre, CIRCUS WORLD/’64. That one sabotaged Sam Bronston’s deluxe indie outfit for real.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: You can't beat DUMBO/'41 for the look & feel of a small town circus.

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