24 January 2007 | Doylenf
More fun than "The Greatest Show on Earth"...
While RING OF FEAR may not qualify for Best Film of the Year (as DeMille's circus epic did), it is a colorful and fast moving story of life under the big circus tent, whereby an ex-employee returns to his old job seeking vengeance on none other than CLYDE BEATTY and intent on evening the score for an ex-girlfriend who married another man (JOHN BROMFIELD). Beatty's lion-taming act is fascinating to watch.
The film's main purpose seems to be in showcasing the circus life, the roustabouts setting up the tents, the training of wild animals (and I do mean wild), the petty arguments among the trapeze artists and other performers, and all of it supervised by a caustic manager (PAT O'BRIEN) in the sort of brassy wise-guy role he could have performed in his sleep. For added interest, there's a laid-back performance from MICKEY SPILLANE as himself, helping O'Brien solve the case of the psychopath bent on murderous revenge, who is hiding out in the traveling circus.
SEAN McCLORY is guilty of overacting in many a scene but he does create a fascinating offbeat character as the madman who has escaped from confinement and is intent on revenge. The last fifteen minutes of the film contain more suspense and excitement than deMille managed to do in his lengthy, pretentious Oscar-winning epic THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.
Summing up: Not masterpiece theater as far as acting and script are concerned, but interesting enough as a suspense tale played against a colorful circus background, to maintain a reasonable amount of interest.