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Film May End A 50-Year Jinx
By A Staff Correspondent In]
AT one corner of a four-
acre plot in the West London suburb of Ealing, an Australian author, a handful of British actors, a bevy of bruisers, and a tightly-knit little group of movie-makers have just fin- ished trying to deal a knock- out blow to a 50-year-old jinx.
The jinx-a sore point with a race which has produced Jim Driscoll, Jimmy Wilde and other peerless pugilists
is that Britain has not yet made a fight film that packed a real box-office punch.
In fact, cinematically speak- ing, Britain has scarcely put the gloves on at all.
The last time she did so, in 1939, with "There Ain't No Justice," the whole thing sag- ged woefully at the knees all the way, despite the efferves- cent presence of comedian Jimmy Hanley.
If you go back nearly an- other 20 years you may recall Victor McLaglen in "The Amateur Gentleman." Worth remembering, too. But when you've done this you have plumbed the depths.
Ealing Studios, on the other hand, with probably a greater proportion of screen hits per output than any other film fac- tory on earth, have had an almost unbroken run of world successes since the war-| "Passport to Pimlico,"-"Kind
Hearts and Coronets," "The Lavender Hill Mob," "The Cruel Sea," and so on.
Now the hitherto unattain- able and the currently invin- cible have come to grips.
They have been fighting it out over "The Square Ring," the boxing play by Ralph W.
Peterson which caused quite a rustle when it was produced on the London stage towards the end of last year.
Peterson, 31-year-old Syd- ney-born author, came to Eng- land two years ago complete- ly unknown and achieved fame overnight with his play.
"No doubt the critics would go into raptures over your 'abstract-met formalist1 effort, but I'd like you to paint that wall
(It is to be revived in the West End with an all-Negro company from America about the time the film has its pre- miere-in about two months' time.)
Few films have more simple settings than "The Square Ring," which is based on a simple theme-what goes on "behind the scenes" at a big fight' venue.
All the action takes place in or around a stadium, the greater part in the dressing room or the auditorium.
Peterson's play confined it-
self to the dressing-room and yet managed to score heavily with drama, humour, atmos- phere and characterisation.
Producer Basil Dearden has gained a point which the play lacked-action in the ring.
There is plenty of it, too: real, honest-to-goodness scrap- ping, meticulously handled by well-known British boxing officials, and put over by genuine glove experts with a ferocity that left them-and the actors-bruised and bleed- ing. .
A rugged, rock-jawed Can- adian, Robert Beatty, plays the role of Jim ("Kid") Cur- tis, who is attempting a come-
An early set-back was that Beatty had everything for the role except boxing ability. He confessed that he had done nothing more aggressive in his life than to pull pints in a friend's country pub frequent- ed by local ex-pugilists.
However, after three hours' exercising in the ring with a former British boxing cham- pion, Dave Crowley, every day for a fortnight, he learned enough to make a creditable showing in the ring.
Ealing Studios are now cer- tain that 'The Square Ring" will break the jinx.