AN EALING STUDIOS FILM
THE SQUARE RING
Starring Jack Warner as Danny Felton; Robert Beatty as Kid Curtis; Maxwell Reed as Rick Martell; Bill Owen as Happy Burns; Kay Kendall as Eve; Bernadette O’ Farrell as Peg Curtis; Eddie Byrne as Lou Lewis;
Sidney James as Adams; Alfie Bass as Frank Forbes; Bill Travers as Rowdie Rawlings; Ronald Lewis as Eddie Lloyd; Joan Sims as Bunty
And Joan Collins as Frankie
Art Director-Jim Morahan. Editor-Peter Bezencenet. Director of Photography-Otto Heller. Screenplay by Robert Westerby. From a Play by Ralph W Peterson. Additional Dialogue by Peter Myers. Assistant Director-Norman Priggen. Produced by Michael Relph. Directed by Basil Dearden.
Jim Curtis known as Kid, a once top championship boxer, is making a
comeback from obscurity. Trying to get over a failed marriage, he yearns for one more year at the top, before finally retiring. But tragedy strikes a blow, when he goes head to head with Rick Martell and now he must fight for his life in THE SQUARE RING!!
©1953 Ealing Films 83mins B/W Reg2 Dvd- Optimum Classics.
Made in 1953, Joan plays a small role of Frankie, the girlfriend of a disillusioned boxer played by her then real-life husband Maxwell Reed. The film relates the events of an evening at a provincial boxing stadium and was originally a stage play by Ralph W. Peterson. Reed plays Rick Martell, a boxer known for throwing fights, who has lost all his self respect and hides it behind a mask of pure bravado! Life was almost imitating art as Reed himself was feeling less than adequate, blaming Joan for upstaging him in their scenes together. She felt uneasy around him and the frightened look she conveys in the film was not all down to her acting. Critics at the time of it release were mixed, one commenting. “A Uneven mix. Veering between comedy and tragedy.”
A TV version starring Sean Connery in the role of Rick, along with Alan Bates, was broadcast as an ITV play of the week in 1958. Joan at this time was beginning to become fed up of been a Rank starlet as she hated the roles she was been offered. She wasn’t keen on the incompetence of the hairdressers and makeup artists they employed. She was appalled at the levels of makeup she had to wear : "three inches of slop" she commented in an interview In 1980. But it did teach her to properly clean her face every evening of all makeup and she started to do her own makeup on film sets, which she still does to this day.
After “The Square Ring” Rank had no other roles for Joan and Reed so they decided to accept a limited run of the Pulitzer prize winning Thornton Wilder play “The Skin of Our Teeth.” In it Joan played the part of Sabina, a maid and a temptress in the household of George Antrobus, played by Reed. Joan was not only delighted with the excellent reviews she received, but also that she had proved her RADA bosses wrong, in that she was a film star who could take the lead in a west end role.
Also in the film is Kay Kendall, who starred in Joan’s first film “Lady Godiva Rides Again.” She was eager to do more comedies but was cast in this under her Rank contract. She commented at the time: “It has ponderous dialogue. I had to wear pin cushion shaped costumes and a wig that made me look like Danny Kaye in drag!” Location shots were filmed at Waterloo Station. “The Square Ring” is classic British movie making with a cast of familiar faces, including Carry On favourites Sidney James and Joan Sims and is made in the true Ealing tradition.
© 2010 Mark McMorrow