Sunday, July 8, 2018

70 years before the Japanese horror movie

Yesterday I decided to watch Alfred Hitchcock's The Ring off the cheap Mill Creek box set I got some time back.

Carl Brisson plays "One-Round" Jack Sander, a boxer who gets his nickname because he works at the carnival taking on all comers, one round at a time. Basically, you pay your entry fee, and if you can last a full round with him, you get a cash prize. (This is the same thing that was a major plot point in the John Garfield film They Made Me a Criminal a dozen years later.) Jack is in love with The Girl, Mabel (Lillian Hall-Davis), who handles the tickets for the attraction.

One day, a man comes to the attraction, buys a ticket, and beats the crap out of Jack! It turns out that the man is Bob Corby (Ian Hunter), a rising professional boxer who could have a shot at the title. So of course Bob was going to have a good shot of beating Jack. It looks like the end of Jack's career, except that Bob's promoter (Forrester Harvey) offers Jack a job as Bob's sparring partner. Meanwhile, Bob is trying to put the moves on Jack's girl, and Jack is none too pleased about it.

Eventually, Jack starts rising up the ladder of success in the boxing world, going from the bottom of the card to the top, although it's a strain for Mabel, who is increasingly torn between Jack and Bob. You can probably guess that the plot is ultimately going to require Jack to go up against Bob in the ring in the big fight, with Jack fighting for Mabel's love (although we find out during the big fight that she has made her decision in favor of... well, did you think I was going to say who?).

The Ring is not the sort of movie that one thinks of when one thinks of Alfred Hitchcock, although the whole "master of suspense" thing really didn't kick into high gear until the mid 1930s with The Man Who Knew Too Much and The 39 Steps. The Ring isn't bad, although I personally prefer The Lodger when it comes to Hitchcock's silent movies.. But The Ring is certainly more than worth a watch, and not just because it's one of Alfred Hitchcock's early movies. It would still stand favorably on its own if you didn't know who the director was.

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