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The Guardian (09/Nov/1927) - The Ring: Mr. Carl Brisson in Films

(c) The Guardian (09/Nov/1927)


Mr. Carl Brisson in Films

British International's latest production, "The Ring," drew a host of exhibitors to a trade show yesterday in the Piccadilly Theatre. This picture matters a good deal both to the industry and to the art of the kinematograph in Great Britain. One scarcely hesitates to suggest that it will do more than any yet seen to convince the reluctant investor that British films are not, financially, an arid desert; that oases are now known to exist, and that a vast province may shortly come under cultivation. "The Ring" is not a dramatic masterpiece. Two towers fight at once for the hand of a woman arid for a championship. That may be a crude obvious ides, but for popular entertainment it is adequate; supported by excellent acting, direction, and photography, it is more than adequate. It beats the Americans just where they usually beat us — not in the story told but in the manner of telling it, the pace and economy of action, keen characterisation, the elusive quality which the trade calls "production values." It sets a new standard for British productions to meet the needs of the discriminating man in the street who likes entertainment to be good of its kind. The existence and discrimination of such a class is the substratum of all masterpieces.

Alfred Hitchcock directed "The Ring." To call him a brilliant director is now commonplace. His virtues are pictorial rather than narrative. Here he wrote the story for himself, and every director writing for himself tends to exploit his tricks instead of constructing a story intrinsically interesting. Hitchcock's story is only sound; he relies on his pictorial ability to make it interesting. His unusual resource and inventiveness in camera work, and a flair for the comic, pull him through easily, with a series of neat effects. Carl Brisson makes his first appearance on the screen, and is an acquisition. He turns out to be an actor with a good deal more than a personality, and his boxing is great. (He and his rival hit each other more times in one round than Dempsey and Tunney in all ten.) Lillian Hall Davis plays his wife, blowsy little thing, pretty well, and there is plenty of rich characterisation in the gang of toughs at the fair where "One Round Jack's" career begins. "The Ring" is not the best British film yet made, but it does set a fresh standard to the mass of British commercial productions. If British films as a whole can rise to this standard, the masterpieces will not be lacking, and, quota or no quota, the new industry will be firmly established.