The Ring

The Ring

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Given that most modern exposure to silent film revolves around Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the like, it's easy to forget that silent drama was just as important to cinema-goers.

Given that Hitchcock became famed for his later work, it's also easy to forget that the master of suspense began his trade in the world of the silents - which may well be one of the reasons why he had such an eye for detail and scene-framing. After all, with no words, the look of the thing was doubly important.

Copy picture

The Ring was his first film for British International Pictures, who had tempted him away from Gainsborough with the promise of better budgets and more artistic leeway. It tells the tale of Nellie (Lillian Hall-Davis - who would, sadly, go on to commit suicide less than a decade later) a woman torn between two boxers 'One round' Jack (Carl Brisson) and Aussie champ Bob (Ian Hunter).

Nellie holds all the cards, since she marries Jack, while still having the hots for Bob - a situation clearly illustrated by a serpent bracelet - a present from Bob - which she wears on her arm.

By cleverly manipulating this symbol of ownership - Nellie covers it up when she speaks to Jack and it slips down her arm at key moments - Hitchcock never lets us forget her duplicity. He also makes good use of revelatory moments, keeping devilishness in the detail. He also sustains a decent pace and, given the limitations placed on directors by silent movies, achieves an enviable amount of nuance.

Whether there is much evidence of the 'later Hitch' is debatable but there are nods to voyeurism - as we, along with Nellie peer in to a circus tent to watch the boxers square off and, according to biographer Charlotte Chandler (in her book It's Only A Movie) Hitchcock himself claimed that he went on to use 'under-cranking', seen here in the climactic boxing match, in his later film Strangers On A Train to make things seem faster for the audience.

Though this silent movie won't be for everyone it is a solid example of the genre.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2007
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The Ring packshot
Two boxers vie for the love of a woman. Out to own as part of Hitchcock: The Early Collection.
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Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Writer: Alfred Hitchcock (scenario by Alma Reville)

Starring: Carl Brisson, Lillian Hall-Davis, Ian Hunter, Forrester Harvey, Harry Terry, Gordon Harker

Year: 1927

Runtime: 72 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: UK

Festivals:

Karlovy 2013

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