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TIGER SHARK (director: Howard Hawks; screenwriters: from the story Tuna by Houston Branch/John Lee Mahin/Wells Root; cinematographer: Tony Gaudio; editor: Thomas Pratt; music: Leo F. Forbstein; cast: Edward G. Robinson (Mike Mascarenhas), Richard Arlen (Pipes Boley), Zita Johann (Quita Silva), Leila Bennett (Muggsey), J. Carrol Naish (Tony), William Ricciardi (Manuel Silva, a Crewman); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Raymond Griffith; Warner Bros.; 1932)
“The action-sequences involving the big fish catches and the attacking sharks, is what gives the film its bite.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A minor Howard Hawks (“Scarface”/”Twentieth Century”/”His Girl Friday”) adventure story that’s based on the story Tuna by Houston Branch and is written by Wells Root.

Captain Mike Mascarenhas (Edward G. Robinson), an uneducated proletarian of Portuguese extraction, is a successful tuna fisherman operating in San Diego, advertising himself as the “best dam’ fisherman in the Pacific.” His only problem is that he’s unlucky with women. During a shipwreck, while in a rowboat with two of the crew, one of them attacks Mike for the water and Mike pushes him overboard to be fed to the sharks. Mike then manages to rescue his best friend Pipes Boley (Richard Arlen), who was pushed into the sea by the men, from the sharks and as a result has his hand bitten off by a shark which forces him to have a steel hook.

Later, while fishing for Tuna, a harpooner named Manuel Silva falls overboard and is eaten by the sharks. Back in San Diego, Mike delivers food and some money to Manuel’s family and finds the only relative is the downtrodden but pretty daughter Quita (Zita Johann). Mike marries the impoverished younger woman even though she tells him she doesn’t love him. Soon Quita falls madly in love with Pipes, Mike’s loyal first mate. Pipes, even though in love with Quita, can’t bear to tell his friend. Unable to work out a reasonable love triangle solution, Mike catches the couple embracing and goes berserk. As a convenience, Mike is killed by a shark after spouting off his life philosophy that the “sharks settle everything.”

Despite the tired love triangle story line, used frequently by Warners, Hawks keeps things breezy and gets a colorful hammy performance from Robinson (sporting a pirate’s earring). The action-sequences involving the big fish catches and the attacking sharks, is what gives the film its bite.

To give it an authentic feel, it was shot on location on the Monterey coast.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”