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.
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 <email@example.com>
Originally intended to be photographed in 3-D and to be titled "Man-Killer." See more »
In the scene where Dublin coerces Twitchy into sabotaging Armand St. Dennis's trapeze, right before Dublin leaves Twitchy is holding in his hands the handkerchief that he's been using as he applies his makeup; in the next shot, as Dublin leaves, he's clutching the bottle of liquor that Dublin has plied him with; in the shot after that, he is once again holding the handkerchief. See more »
Mickey Spillane investigates crimes at the Clyde Beatty Circus in cinema-scope!
Well, say what you will about RING OF FEAR, it's certainly a novelty. First of all, the real "Star" is the Clyde Beatty Circus, which couldn't have purchased better advertising than this beautifully shot color and cinema-scope production, half of which must be the circus's best acts. A psycho is at loose in the circus, so the great crime writer Mickey Spillane, playing himself, is called in to investigate! Spillane himself calls in for a fellow investigator to help, and that guy poses as a magazine reporter. Pat O'Brien plays the manager of the circus, and Clyde Beatty himself also appears and does a number of lion and tiger-taming routines. Irish actor Sean McCrory, in an over-the-top performance, plays a one-time circus employee who became a stalker of a lady working at the circus and escapes from a mental institution to re-join the circus (and this is NOT a spoiler--all this is shown in the first few scenes), where he's accepted back as ringmaster. There's even comedy scenes with Batjac Productions regular Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez! My favorite scene is one where Mickey Spillane shows up at the circus and runs into the uncredited comic master Vince Barnett, who is reading Spillane novels on the job all day and explains to Spillane himself how his productivity has gone down so much due to Mick's novels! Mick then produces his newest one, hot of the press, and hands it to Barnett, who almost salivates over it! There's not much "mystery" here since we know exactly how each crime is committed, and we only get to know about a half dozen employees of the circus at all, so obviously the suspect pool from which Spillane and assistant have to choose isn't really that large. No, what makes the film entertaining is the circus setting, the idea of Mickey Spillane playing himself, and the colorful performances. Pat O'Brien (no relation to the bar or the TV gossip host) could play a role like this in his sleep, but he still has the gruff authenticity that makes him so watchable and loved by audiences for decades. Spillane comes off as an amiable and sarcastic yet tough guy. Sean McCrory, the "human star" of the film (the circus itself being the main star), chews the scenery and one wonders how ANYONE would not instantly think he was guilty of SOMETHING. This film will no doubt get a large audience through its being included in the new box set JOHN WAYNE'S SUSPENSE COLLECTION, which contains four Batjac Productions (see also my review of MAN IN THE VAULT, also in the package). It's a fascinating curio that's worth watching once, and may have some camp appeal for future viewings. As a Spillane fan, I'm happy to see the master in anything, so I may well watch it again. The transfer is superb on the DVD with rich colors and fine widescreen composition. One can only imagine how beautiful and awesome the circus scenes were on a large 1950's movie screen.
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