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The Ring (1952)

The Ring 1952 poster

Billed as a boxing movie, this is so much more. It’s really a vivid and flavorful account of the Mexican immigrant experience in Los Angeles. Directed by German emigre Kurt Neumann, who began making European-language versions of Hollywood films and then became famous decades later with sci-fi such as The Fly, we start with an authoritative doc-style voiceover explaining the topography of LA and the Mexican area. Adapted from the Irving Shulman novel (he specialised in post-war juvenile studies – you will know Rebel Without a Cause), we are introduced to young Tommy Cantanios (Lalo Rios) whose family is falling on hard times and when he’s subjected to a racist attack he beats the crap out of his assailants. He’s spotted by a boxing promoter Pete Ganusa (Gerald Mohr) and wins his first fight in a technical KO. His sometime girlfriend (Rita Moreno, top-billed but in very much a supporting role) cannot agree with his decision to pursue this lifestyle and it takes him a while to see the writing on the wall when he starts losing and his earnings are chewed up by his team. The casual racism of the era is well captured and there’s a very good scene in a diner when a sympathetic cop recognises ‘Tommy Kansas’ and ensures he and his friends get something to eat despite the management’s policy. Tommy has some hard lessons to learn, Moreno is beautiful and sweet and the family dynamic is somewhat cliched but touching. You’ll probably recall Rios from Touch of Evil, and a few years later he featured in Lonely is the Brave. He died aged just 46.  This is a very interesting piece of work for so many reasons, boxing being just one of them.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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