The Clyde Beatty Circus seems jinxed, falling victim again and again to apparent accidents which are actually the acts of a murderous saboteur. Mystery writer Mickey Spillane comes on the scene to solve the case.
Legendary detective Mike Hammer has spent seven years in an alcoholic funk after the supposed death of his secretary, Velda. He is brought back to the land of the living by his old friendly enemy, police lieutenant Pat Chambers.
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Three psychiatrists find that Dublin O'Malley has homicidal tendencies, an under-diagnosis at best. O'Malley kills a guard, escapes from the mental institution, and then kills a railroad worker. He changes clothes with the dead man and pushes the corpse in front of a train. He then heads for the Clyde Beatty Circus, having a yen for aerialist Valerie St. Dennis, now married to her partner. O'Malley is also seeking revenge against Beatty. He approaches alcoholic clown, Twitchy, and, between booze and blackmail, forces Twitchy to commit acts of sabotage against the circus. The performers think the show is jinxed, so Beatty asks crime-author Mickey Spillane to come by and see what he can do about the situation, and the show's general manager, Frank Wallace, agrees to give him full cooperation and isn't seen much anymore. Spillane brings in Jack Stang to help him. Twitchy is about to go to Beatty and tell all, but O'Malley kills him and makes it look like an accident. But the fictional ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Average Shot Length = ~8 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~8.4 seconds. See more »
During the scene at the beginning of the movie, where Dublin is pleading his case before the prison board, the photograph he places in his right breast pocket changes position between camera shots. See more »
After Cecil B. DeMille's extravaganza, The Greatest Show On Earth came out, he showed Charlton Heston a review from a paper and told him it was the greatest review he will ever have as an actor. The reviewer remarked at what a great performance DeMille got out of the circus boss. Of course Charlton Heston wasn't CHARLTON HESTON back then.
What John Wayne and partner Robert Fellows did instead of getting actors hired a couple of real people to play themselves, Clyde Beatty and Mickey Spillane. Good thing these two did not attempt to create a character and just played themselves.
Clyde Beatty, jungle cat trainer extraordinaire, just isn't and actor. The poor man looked very embarrassed indeed. My guess is that he wanted to publicize his circus in the way that Ringling Brothers had their circus publicized by DeMille. I'm sure that is the genesis of Ring of Fear. Beatty had played himself before in the Abbott&Costello film Africa Screams. There like here his dialog was kept to a minimum.
When you've got a string of unexplained accidents at the circus, what do you do, but hire a mystery writer to solve the crime. That's what Beatty does, his circus boss played by Pat O'Brien gets Mickey Spillane obviously thinking he's really Mike Hammer. Fortunately what Spillane does is get a real detective to do the actual work.
Like The Greatest Show on Earth, Ring of Fear has a psychotic doing all these dastardly deeds. Sean McClory steps into the able psychotic shoes of Lyle Bettger. Bettger's psychosis however in the other film was only part of that plot. Here the suspense is killed rather early when you know right away that McClory is the bad guy.
In his memoirs The Wind at my Back, Pat O'Brien took time to thank John Wayne for this part. His career was in doldrums at the time and O'Brien was grateful for the part. He certainly out acted his two co-stars.
The circus acts are entertaining, they're the best part of Ring of Fear. John Wayne later on appeared in a circus film of his own, Circus World, that director/writer James Edward Grant did the script for him. That Cinerama epic, unfortunately ran into an unforeseen problem.
The re-release of The Greatest Show On Earth.
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