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Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire(1961)

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teaser Ring of Fire (1961)

An Oregon Sheriff (the ever dogged David Jansen, later of The Fugitive fame) is surprised and kidnapped by three juvenile delinquents (a very young Frank Gorshin among them) who then go on a journey for freedom through the deep forests of Oregon in Ring of Fire (1961). The sheriff soon gets the upperhand, however, and the movie climaxes with the entire forest and town being burned down and everyone, including hundreds of townsfolk, desperate to escape.

Arguably the most exciting film ever to be shot in Veronica, Oregon. While the story is a bit fanciful, emphasis on fast action and William Clothier's rich, sharp photography (his aerial shots of the fire are first-rate) make for a good "B" picture. The footage of the fires were shot during two real conflagrations that took place in Oregon and California, then cut into the picture and director Stone used the entire town of Veronica for the scenes of escaping citizens in freight cars for authenticity.

For you trivia buffs: Doodles Weaver, who plays Mr. Hobart, is the uncle of actress Sigourney Weaver.Ring of Fire is notably interesting for its director, Andrew L. Stone, who wrote and directed a series of thrillers, all shot on location using natural sounds and the minimum of lighting. He considered studio shooting outdated and wasteful. A pioneer of hand-lamps and radio mics, Stone rejected back projection, process work and even post-synching (dubbing). The technique paid off because whereas most studio pictures averaged eight setups a day, Stone routinely shot 20, shooting all night if he thought it would help the picture. Every scene for his picture Cry Terror (1958) for instance, was shot on location; Stone even took his crew into the New York subway, requiring James Mason to crawl down the inside of a real elevator shaft; and his previous film The Decks Ran Red (1958), was shot on an abandoned freighter. Such tactics lent his movies, which not always had the most believable or tightest of scripts, an element of intensity and atmosphere.

Producer: Andrew L. Stone
Director: Andrew L. Stone
Screenplay: Andrew L. Stone
Cinematography: William H. Clothier
Film Editing: Virginia L. Stone
Art Direction:
Music: Duane Eddy
Cast: David Janssen (Sergeant Steve Walsh), Joyce Taylor (Bobbie Adams), Frank Gorshin (Frank Henderson), Joel Marston (Deputy Joe Pringle), James Johnson (Roy Anderson), Ron Myron (Sheriff Tom Niles).

by Michael T. Toole

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