Full page view
HISTORY

Voice-over narration, describing the circus, is heard at the beginning and end of the film. Portraying himself in the film is popular novelist Mickey Spillane (1918--), who, after writing comic books, published seven detective mysteries between 1947 and 1952, featuring his famous protagonist “Mike Hammer,” a character based on Spillane's comic book hero, “Mike Danger.” Despite critical attacks on the explicit sex and violence contained in his stories, Spillane's paperback books were popular, especially among fellow World War II veterans. Spillane, who was a popular cultural icon, wrote additional Mike Hammer novels, as well as other novels and two juvenile fiction books into the late 1990s.
       Sound mixer Francis J. Scheid's surname is misspelled "Sheid" onscreen. According to HR news items, portions of Ring of Fear were shot in Deming, NM and Phoenix, AZ, and the parade scenes were shot in Galveston, TX. Mar 1954 HR news items and the HR review reported that additional scenes were shot by director William Wellman in Phoenix after the original director, James Edward Grant, wound up principal photography. Circus sequences consisted of actual performances by the Clyde Beatty Circus during their Phoenix run. Although neither Joan Vohs nor Vera Miles appear in the film, they tested for roles, according to a Nov 1953 HR news item. HR news items also add the following actors to the cast: Henry Rowland, William Fawcett, Harry Hines, Don Harvey, Gregg Barton, Forrest Taylor, Paul Scott, Gene Roth as the circus promoter and Joan E. Thron as a sword swallower. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Although ... More Less

Voice-over narration, describing the circus, is heard at the beginning and end of the film. Portraying himself in the film is popular novelist Mickey Spillane (1918--), who, after writing comic books, published seven detective mysteries between 1947 and 1952, featuring his famous protagonist “Mike Hammer,” a character based on Spillane's comic book hero, “Mike Danger.” Despite critical attacks on the explicit sex and violence contained in his stories, Spillane's paperback books were popular, especially among fellow World War II veterans. Spillane, who was a popular cultural icon, wrote additional Mike Hammer novels, as well as other novels and two juvenile fiction books into the late 1990s.
       Sound mixer Francis J. Scheid's surname is misspelled "Sheid" onscreen. According to HR news items, portions of Ring of Fear were shot in Deming, NM and Phoenix, AZ, and the parade scenes were shot in Galveston, TX. Mar 1954 HR news items and the HR review reported that additional scenes were shot by director William Wellman in Phoenix after the original director, James Edward Grant, wound up principal photography. Circus sequences consisted of actual performances by the Clyde Beatty Circus during their Phoenix run. Although neither Joan Vohs nor Vera Miles appear in the film, they tested for roles, according to a Nov 1953 HR news item. HR news items also add the following actors to the cast: Henry Rowland, William Fawcett, Harry Hines, Don Harvey, Gregg Barton, Forrest Taylor, Paul Scott, Gene Roth as the circus promoter and Joan E. Thron as a sword swallower. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Although only Fred MacDowell is credited onscreen, a Nov 1953 HR news item lists Ralph Dawson as film editor and the HR review lists the running time as 98 minutes. Ring of Fear marked the last film appearance of Clyde Beatty, who died in 1965.
       Clyde Beatty's film appearances include the 1949 Abbott and Costello film Africa Screams , which was directed by Charles Barton and distributed by United Artists. Other films in which Spillane appeared include the 1963 British production of The Girl Hunters , in which he played "Mike Hammer," as well as Miller Lite beer commercials and an episode of the 1980s television series Columbo . His character Mike Hammer was featured in several film and television productions, from the 1953 United Artist production I, the Jury , to the CBS "Mike Hammer" television series and made-for-TV movies that aired between 1984 and 1998. For additional information on other films featuring the character, please consult the Series Index and see the entry above for I, the Jury . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Jul 1954.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jul 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Jul 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1953
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 1953
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1953
pp. 8-9.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 1953
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 1953
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1953
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1953
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1953
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1953
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1953
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 1953
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 1953
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1953
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1953
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1953
p. 12, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 54
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Jul 54
p. 50.
New York Times
29 Jul 54
p. 18.
Variety
7 Jul 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Wayne-Fellows Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dir of addl scenes
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog by
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Circus ward
MUSIC
DANCE
Circus prod num
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Scr supv
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Mickey Spillane's 'Velda'" and "The Mike Hammer Theme," music by Staff Purdy.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 July 1954
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Phoenix, AZ: 2 July 1954
Production Date:
mid November--late December 1953
addl scenes began 9 March 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Wayne-Fellows Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 July 1954
Copyright Number:
LP5261
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
WarnerColor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
92-93
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16800
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At a state mental institution, Korean War veteran and patient Dublin O'Malley treasures a photograph of Valerie St. Denis, a trapeze artist in the Clyde Beatty Circus, with whom he had a relationship years before when he was a circus ringmaster. His refusal to discuss his obsession with Valerie leads the parole board to consider Dublin uncooperative, and after consideration, they proclaim him "schizophrenic and possibly homicidal." Realizing that his release will not be granted, Dublin escapes and kills a man to fake his own death. Then, in the town where the Beatty Circus is performing, Dublin secretly contacts the alcoholic clown, Twitchy, who recalls a drinking spree in which Dublin was saved from the lions by the circus owner and animal trainer, Clyde Beatty. Although Twitchy is unaware of it, Dublin has been haunted for years by the laughter of the circus people at his predicament and seeks revenge on Clyde for making him look foolish. Using knowledge of Twitchy's involvement in a woman's accidental death years before, Dublin blackmails him into causing a series of accidents to disrupt the circus. Later, the circus manager, Frank Wallace, suspects sabotage, noting that the results of the accidents--financial loss and the employees' fear of a jinx--are destroying the company. After Clyde is almost killed when a restraining rope in the lion cage breaks, Frank asks for help from Mickey Spillane, the writer of the “Mike Hammer” detective books. Soon after, Dublin gets himself rehired as ringmaster, although Frank fears trouble between Dublin and Valerie's possessive husband Armand. When Valerie sees Dublin for the first time after many years and introduces her five-year-old daughter Nellie, she asks him not to ... +


At a state mental institution, Korean War veteran and patient Dublin O'Malley treasures a photograph of Valerie St. Denis, a trapeze artist in the Clyde Beatty Circus, with whom he had a relationship years before when he was a circus ringmaster. His refusal to discuss his obsession with Valerie leads the parole board to consider Dublin uncooperative, and after consideration, they proclaim him "schizophrenic and possibly homicidal." Realizing that his release will not be granted, Dublin escapes and kills a man to fake his own death. Then, in the town where the Beatty Circus is performing, Dublin secretly contacts the alcoholic clown, Twitchy, who recalls a drinking spree in which Dublin was saved from the lions by the circus owner and animal trainer, Clyde Beatty. Although Twitchy is unaware of it, Dublin has been haunted for years by the laughter of the circus people at his predicament and seeks revenge on Clyde for making him look foolish. Using knowledge of Twitchy's involvement in a woman's accidental death years before, Dublin blackmails him into causing a series of accidents to disrupt the circus. Later, the circus manager, Frank Wallace, suspects sabotage, noting that the results of the accidents--financial loss and the employees' fear of a jinx--are destroying the company. After Clyde is almost killed when a restraining rope in the lion cage breaks, Frank asks for help from Mickey Spillane, the writer of the “Mike Hammer” detective books. Soon after, Dublin gets himself rehired as ringmaster, although Frank fears trouble between Dublin and Valerie's possessive husband Armand. When Valerie sees Dublin for the first time after many years and introduces her five-year-old daughter Nellie, she asks him not to mention their past to Armand, whom she met and married after Dublin left the circus. However, while pretending to be friendly, Dublin makes double-edged comments and, after shooting and developing photographs of the St. Denis family, remarks how Nellie's nose is different than either of her parents. Although Valerie becomes uneasy, Armand is oblivious to Dublin's remarks, so Dublin takes out his frustration by tormenting a caged tiger. Frank and Clyde allow Paul Martin, who claims to be a magazine journalist, to travel with the company to do a series of articles on the circus. Later, Paul, who is really a police detective investigating the accidents at Spillane's request, finds proof from a lab test that the accidents were rigged, as the rope in the lion cage was burned apart with film developer. However, after several days, the culprit still eludes Paul, so Spillane, inspired by his own detective books, suggests that they consider the person who seems least guilty. They begin to watch Dublin, although he appeared on the scene after problems began. When Armand's rigging fails during a performance and the artist almost falls to his death, Clyde is surprised that Twitchy was the last person to check the rigging, as the clown, who is a former aerialist, should have easily spotted any problems. Meanwhile, a remorseful Twitchy wants to confess to Frank, but Dublin drowns him in a horse trough, making his death appear to be the result of inebriation. However, Frank, Spillane and Paul question whether someone else was behind his death and the other accidents, despite Dublin's efforts to frame the dead Twitchy. Later, Paul receives a telegram from authorities describing Dublin as an escaped homicidal maniac and Spillane searches the killer's trailer. Caught in the act by Dublin, Spillane is blinded by the killer's flashgun and restrained with a curtain cord. Paul arrives in time to prevent Dublin from pouring acid in Spillane's eyes, but Dublin escapes to the St. Denises' trailer. There he proclaims his unique and abiding affection to Valerie, but as soon as Armand shows up, Dublin flees to the animal tent and frees the tiger from its cage. After running to a train that has stopped nearby, he hops aboard a freight car, laughing maniacally at his easy escape. While others search for Dublin, Clyde tries unsuccessfully to maneuver the tiger back into its cage, but when it instead heads for the train and jumps into the freight car, he shuts it inside for safekeeping. Before Clyde and the others can stop it, the train departs, but they can hear Dublin's anguished cries as the tiger kills him.

+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.