Arena


1h 23m 1953
Arena

Brief Synopsis

A rodeo star fights to mend his broken marriage.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jun 1953
Premiere Information
Road show opening: 19 Jun 1953
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Tucson, Arizona, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Anscocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1
Film Length
6,360ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

After taking part in a drag race, rodeo rider Hob Danvers shows up at "La Fiesta de los Vaqueros" rodeo in Tucson, Arizona, with his high-spirited girl friend, Sylvia Lorgan. There they encounter Hob's old friends, Lew and Meg Hutchins, who are staying in a trailer with their young son Teddy. Lew, an aging veteran of the rodeo circuit, tells Hob he has come to ask rodeo owner Eddie Elstead for a job. Hob is then visited by his estranged wife Ruth, whom he has not seen in two years. Although she still loves Hob, Ruth despises the unstable lifestyle of the rodeo cowboy, and when she asks for a divorce, Hob hides his own emotions and consents. After losing most of his money in a dice game, Hob meets Lew at his trailer and is appalled to find his friend dressed up as a clown. Lew explains that it was the only job Eddie could give him and that he intends to do it well. The rodeo begins, and after commiserating with Meg, Ruth decides to leave. Meanwhile, rising rodeo star Jackie Roach makes a pass at Sylvia, but she rejects him. Hob rides very well in the bareback event, earning him Teddy's admiration. Jealous that Hob has become his son's hero, Lew pays an injured cowboy to let Lew take his place in the upcoming bronco-riding event. Ruth then returns to the stands, and enjoys the unnerving effect her presence has on Sylvia. The bronco-riding event begins, and Lew is thrown from the bucking animal and injures his knee. When Lew clutches his leg in pain, the crowd roars, assuming it is part of his act, and Hob rushes to his aid. Eddie angrily berates Lew, but Meg and Hob praise his performance until Ruth demands that they stop lying to him and face the fact that Lew is washed up. Hob sends Ruth away, but Lew is impressed by her courage and tells Meg to bring her back. Lew then tries to convince Hob to make up with Ruth, and when Sylvia objects, Lew strikes her. Lew then returns to the ring for the dangerous Brahma bull event, ignoring Meg's objections. Hob is the last contestant, and Sylvia's excitement at seeing him risk his life fills him with disgust. Hob is quickly thrown by the fierce bull, and while Lew is distracting the animal, his injured knee acts up, and he is gored to death as his wife and son look on in horror. As Meg bemoans Lew's senseless death, Hob tells Sylvia they are through, and she leaves with Jackie. Hob is standing alone in the empty ring when Ruth approaches him, and they leave the arena arm in arm.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jun 1953
Premiere Information
Road show opening: 19 Jun 1953
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Tucson, Arizona, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Anscocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1
Film Length
6,360ft (9 reels)

Articles

Arena (1953)


Hollywood bought into the 3-D craze of 1953 in such a rush that ingenious studio cameramen cobbled together some of the fancy stereoscopic camera rigs. For Arena (1953) MGM sent a crew to La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros, held yearly in Tucson. In addition to the standard riding and roping action, the 3-D cameras found thrills in a drag race, a saloon fight, and a Brahma bull charge. The story introduces us to the romantic problems of rodeo rider Hob (Gig Young), whose estranged wife Ruth (Polly Bergen) arrives to ask him to either quit the dangerous profession, or to accept a divorce. Ruth's presence bothers Hob's companion Sylvia (Barbara Lawrence), a shallow playgirl who derives excitement from the danger in the arena. The doubtful future of the rodeo life can be seen through Hob's friends Lew and Meg (Harry Morgan & Jean Hagen). Although too old for the arena, Lew works as a rodeo clown and takes unnecessary risks to impress his young son. Critics liked the 3-D but preferred Nicholas Ray's similar rodeo saga The Lusty Men (1952), with Robert Mitchum. It was also felt that Harry Morgan's tragic character seemed patterned on James Stewart's circus clown in The Greatest Show on Earth, also from 1952. Young Robert Horton is a bronc rider who catches Sylvia's eye, while cowboy villain Lee Van Cleef is seen in an atypical nice-guy role. But the talented Jean Hagen, after her marvelous performance in the previous year's Singin' in the Rain, seems stuck in character parts. Director Richard Fleischer handles the tricky 3-D without sacrificing dramatic values, skills that surely helped make him a candidate to helm Walt Disney's technically demanding 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).

by Glenn Erickson
Arena (1953)

Arena (1953)

Hollywood bought into the 3-D craze of 1953 in such a rush that ingenious studio cameramen cobbled together some of the fancy stereoscopic camera rigs. For Arena (1953) MGM sent a crew to La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros, held yearly in Tucson. In addition to the standard riding and roping action, the 3-D cameras found thrills in a drag race, a saloon fight, and a Brahma bull charge. The story introduces us to the romantic problems of rodeo rider Hob (Gig Young), whose estranged wife Ruth (Polly Bergen) arrives to ask him to either quit the dangerous profession, or to accept a divorce. Ruth's presence bothers Hob's companion Sylvia (Barbara Lawrence), a shallow playgirl who derives excitement from the danger in the arena. The doubtful future of the rodeo life can be seen through Hob's friends Lew and Meg (Harry Morgan & Jean Hagen). Although too old for the arena, Lew works as a rodeo clown and takes unnecessary risks to impress his young son. Critics liked the 3-D but preferred Nicholas Ray's similar rodeo saga The Lusty Men (1952), with Robert Mitchum. It was also felt that Harry Morgan's tragic character seemed patterned on James Stewart's circus clown in The Greatest Show on Earth, also from 1952. Young Robert Horton is a bronc rider who catches Sylvia's eye, while cowboy villain Lee Van Cleef is seen in an atypical nice-guy role. But the talented Jean Hagen, after her marvelous performance in the previous year's Singin' in the Rain, seems stuck in character parts. Director Richard Fleischer handles the tricky 3-D without sacrificing dramatic values, skills that surely helped make him a candidate to helm Walt Disney's technically demanding 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to a October 7, 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, Keenan Wynn was originally cast in a leading role. Arena was M-G-M's first feature-length stereoscopic, or "3-D," film. A May 14, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that the film was being referred to as the screen's first "round" Western. Spurred by competition both from television and the other studios, M-G-M developed its own stereoscopic process, Metrovision Tri-Dee; however, the studio released only one other 3-D film, Kiss Me Kate (see below).
       According to a March 27, 1953 news item in Hollywood Reporter, Arena and all future films released in Ansco color would share color credit with Technicolor. Portions of the film were shot on location at the annual "La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros" rodeo in Tucson, AZ. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the film had a 15-city premiere on June 19, 1953. For more information on 3-D films, see the entry below for Bwana Devil.