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Ring of Fear

USA 1954
produced by
Robert Fellows, John Wayne, D. Ross Lederman (executive) for Wayne-Fellows Productions
directed by James Edward Grant
starring Clyde Beatty, Mickey Spillane, Pat O'Brien, Sean McClory, Marian Carr, John Bromfield, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, Emmett Lynn, Jack Stang, Kenneth Tobey, Kathy Cline
written by Paul Fix, Philip MacDonald, James Edward Grant, music by Arthur Lange, Emil Newman

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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There's one person Dublin (Sean McClory) really hates - and that's Clyde Beatty, famous animal tamer and owner of the circus Dublin once worked for as a ring director. But then he got caught in the lion's cage, could only be saved by Beatty, and became the laughing stock of the whole crew - including Valerie (Marian Carr), the aerialist he was in love with. After that, he disappeared from the face of the earth. He told everyone he fought in Korea of course, but actually, he spent some years in the loonie bin - and was ordered into solitary confinement when he escaped. Seems like nobody even tried to pick up his trail though ...

Well, back out, Dublin blackmails his old friend from the circus days, clown Twitchy (Emmett Lynn), to commit a handful of acts of sabotage. Then Dublin himself appears on the scene and is hired as ring director by Clyde himself on the spot. Meanwhile, Clyde's manager (Pat O'Brien) has hired private eye turned famed crime novelist Mickey Spillane to do some investigating on everything that's happening. The circus has of course a staff of 300, so it takes Mickey a time to figure everyone out, and Dublin is low on his list of suspects since he has only offically joined the circus after the acts of sabotage were beginning to happen ...

Since Dublin has left, Valerie has married someone else, aerialist Armand (John Bromfield) - and now Dublin blackmails Twitchy into killing him - Twitchy fails this time, but Mickey's now hot on his trail ... so in order to not be found out, Dublin drowns Twitchy. Then he goes after Valerie, but by now Mickey and Clyde are already after him ... so ultimately, he releases a tiger on them then hides out in a freight wagon. But Clyde is of course able to handle the big cat, and without knowing Dublin is in there, he drives the tiger into the wagon as well - well, ouch for Dublin (which happens off-screen of course) ...


Ring of Fear was pretty much sold entirely on its premise: Throwing Clyde Beatty and Mickey Spillane (both celebrities but not movie stars back in the day) together and let each do what he does best - so now you have an animal tamer and a hard boiled detective, and the combination is not the most fortunate one, because if a suspense thriller is interrupted by circus performances a few times too often, the tension is likely to suffer. Likewise, all the characters (apart from Dublin) remain disappointingly flat and clicheed throughout, plus an over-reliance on lion-taming does prevent the circus flair from unfolding properly. On the plus side, at least Sean McClory is a creepy maniac, also due to his soft voice - but the rest of the cast isn't nearly as interesting, with both Beatty and Spillane not being thespian heavyweights.

Now don't get me wrong, the film is not a disaster, it just has a few too many flaws to come of as anything more than a just about mediocre gimmick movie.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD