Plot: Jack Sander (Carl Brisson) is a boxer who performs at a carnival and his skills are impressive, having earned him the nickname of One Round, since that is how long his opponents can last against him. Jack is married to Nellie (Lillian Hall-Davis), the young cashier girl at the carnival, but the marriage isn’t a stable one. She feels neglected by Jack and is in dire need of attention and some excitement, which aren’t hard to come by on the carnival grounds. In an effort to fill that void, she falls in with Bob (Ian Hunter), who is also a boxer and happens to be Jack’s chief rival. Soon Nellie is more or less with Bob, but Jack doesn’t want to give her up that easily, which leads to a back and forth between the two men. As the two spar in their personal lives, what will happen when the men step inside the squared circle?
Entertainment Value: I have an appreciation for boxing movies, so I had to see this Alfred Hitchcock directed film and I wasn’t disappointed, as The Ring is a solid effort from his silent picture years. The narrative is simple, but effective and sets the stage for drama, romance, and of course, some good, old fashioned fisticuffs. I especially liked the carnival setting that fights take place in, as the atmosphere and visuals from that added a lot to the movie. I am biased in that regard, as the old school carnival environment is always interesting to me, but it works well in this case, since these kind of prize fights were midway mainstays. The actual matches here are passable, but capture the same kind of vibe most boxing has in the silent era, so that’s no surprise. The love triangle is not an original approach, but it is a time tested one and The Ring puts it to good use, which is what matters. The story is not memorable, but it keeps your attention, while the visuals and technical tricks also keep you hooked in. I think this is a solid movie that has interest to boxing fans, Hitchcock devotees, and classic cinema buffs alike.
The performances here are fine, but no one is given all that much to work with, since the material is pretty routine in most aspects. The two boxers are able to make the rivalry seem believable, as both Carl Brisson and Ian Hunter turn in solid efforts, both in the ring and outside of the squared circle. Brisson has more of the central role here, but both men have prominent screen time and are in the thick of the narrative, with Lillian Hall-Davis in the middle. The love triangle plays out much as you’d expect and while the chemistry is decent with the trio, there’s never the kind of raw passion or even sparks that really make this kind of story snap. Even so, all three leads do good work here, so it is hard to complain too much. The cast also includes Gordon Harker, Forrester Harvey, and Harry Terry.