Cast & Crew
In Los Angeles, on Olvera Street, where the pueblo that grew into the city was originally established by Mexican families, "Anglo" tourists buy traditional Mexican articles and make disparaging remarks about "the lazy Mexican." Although he has just been laid off from his job, Vidal Cantanios, refuses money to pretend to sleep for the tourists because the job is undignified. At home, Vidal, who dreams of owning his own stand on Olvera Street, argues with his son Tomas, who then visits his club, where two police officers harass him and his friends, by calling them "pachucos." Later that evening, Tommy tries to enter a skating rink with his girl friend, Lucy Gomez, but they are refused entrance and told that "Mexicana" night is the next night. Embittered, Tommy takes Lucy to a bar, where two "Anglos" whistle at her and insult him. After putting Lucy on a bus to go home, Tommy fights the two men, then runs when he hears a police whistle. Pete Genusia, a boxing manager, sees the incident and picks Tommy up in his car. Pete, a more assimilated Mexican American than Tommy, urges the boy to become a prizefighter, telling him that if he is successful, he will make a lot of money and people will look up to him. Impressed with Pete's easy manner with women, and their attention toward him, Tommy agrees to try. Using the name "Tommy Kansas," he wins his first fight, a preliminary match, but in so doing, goes against the instructions of Pete and his trainer, Freddy Jack, who advise him not to slug it out with his opponent. When Tommy gives the money he has earned to his family, Vidal berates him, calling fighters brutes who have no dignity. Tommy argues that he is trying to make enough money to move the family into a better area of town and to put his father in a business on Olvera Street. Vidal is moved, but refuses to allow his son to fight and orders him to leave the house. Tommy's mother, however, tells her husband that Tommy can stay as long as he wants. Lucy also is upset when Tommy tells her about boxing because she feels it is dangerous. His friends at the club, however, are impressed and root for him during his next bouts. After his eighth bout, Tommy, who still does not heed the instructions of Pete and Freddy, refuses to fight any more preliminaries, and Pete reluctantly matches him in a semi-final against a more experienced fighter, Chocolate Ganz, who beats him badly. Tommy, however, believes the decision is close. His fights continue badly, and after he loses in Pomona on a technical knockout, he realizes it is time to quit. That night, he joins his friends on a drive to the beach and insists, despite their protests, that they stop along the way at a café in Beverly Hills. The group is stared at by the clientele and given the "water treatment" by a hostile waitress, who purposely spills glasses of water on their table. After the manager puts out a sign stating that they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, a police officer recognizes Tommy and orders the waitress to serve them. The boys realize that they were served because Tommy is "somebody," and Tommy decides to continue fighting. He vows to Pete and Freddy to obey their instructions and to train like he never trained before. He is scheduled for a semi-final in San Diego, but when a fighter set for the main event withdraws because of illness, Harry Jackson, the arena promoter, tries to get Tommy to fight in his place. Pete, aware that Tommy is not ready, refuses although Tommy wants to fight. When the promoter reveals that the "ill" fighter was seen earlier that day with his manager, Barney Williams, in a bar, he threatens to call off the fight and ruin the boxer and Williams. Pete then agrees to let Tommy fight if the opponent, Art Aragon, does not hurt him and demands $450 from Williams. Tommy is aghast until Pete gives him the money for his father's stand. Although Aragon, also a Mexican American, agrees to let Tommy look flashy for the first four rounds and then let him lose gracefully, Tommy refuses to throw the fight. Although he battles furiously in the first round, Aragon knocks him unconscious with ease in the second. At home, when Tommy finds his young adoring brother Pepe shadow boxing with his gloves, he burns the gloves and the boxing robe that Pete gave him. On Olvera Street, Lucy convinces Tommy that he should go on fighting for things he believes are right. When he sees his father, now happily selling items on the street, Tommy agrees that maybe there are other things he could do.
John R. Carter
Herschel Burke Gilbert
Herschel Burke Gilbert
Fred H. Messenger
Bruce B. Pierce
The working title of this film was Pachuco, a usually derisive term prevalent in the 1940s and 1950s that was used for young Mexican-American men living in East Los Angeles, who often wore "flashy" clothes and were members of local gangs. According to August 1949 news items in Los Angeles Times, the picture was originally to have been made by Ida Lupino and her then husband Collier Young's company, The Filmakers, Inc., and was to star Leo Penn. According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the screenplay that the King Bros. submitted to the PCA in November 1951 was entitled The Ring Is a Trap. After reading the script, PCA officials suggested various changes in the dialogue, commenting, "We feel it would not be good to infer that the police discriminate against these boys because of their nationality."
The film garnered mixed reviews: Hollywood Reporter panned the film, calling it "a depressing, rather pointless harangue on American discrimination against its Mexican minority group" and speculating the film would only be of interest to "East Los Angeles, the Mexican-American population and those who love films depicting minorities as abused in America." The reviewer criticized the film as presenting "such a bleak outlook for the Mexican-American that it emerges only as the type that does this country definite disservice abroad" and as intending "to show that if a Mexican can't make good in the ring, or in some other exhibitional profession, there isn't much hope for him in this 'land of bigotry.'" Boxer Art Aragon, who played himself in the film, had a large following in Los Angeles. January 1952 Hollywood Reporter news items add Ben Cameron, Phil Solomon and Edward Tierney to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The Ring May have marked the only feture film appearance by Robert Altuna who portrayed "Pepe Cantanios."