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directed by Howard Hawks
USA 19

Have you heard? Mike Mascarenhas (Edward G. Robinson), the blustery, socially awkward San Diego trawler captain with a hook for a left hand, is getting married. One problem: Mike's bride (Zita Johann) has eyes for Mike's crewman and friend (Richard Arlen). Tiger Shark's storyline of red-blooded workingmen in love with the same woman would surface again in Warner's Slim and Manpower. And before those three titles there was They Knew What They Wanted, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sidney Howard play that reportedly provided a seed of inspiration for director Howard Hawks. Yet even more powerful than the durable tale of a love triangle are Tiger Shark's scenes of commercial fishing: the strikes, the reeling in, the dangers...the circling of voracious sharks.



It is difficult to determine who is the more ferocious character in this film: The real shark seen in the underwater sequences, or star Edward G. Robinson. Robinson plays a Portuguese tuna boat skipper--the self-styled "best dam' fisherman in the Pacific"--who years earlier had lost his hand to a shark while rescuing best friend Richard Arlen. Robinson promises to look after the daughter Zita Johann of a recently deceased crew member. He proposes marriage; she accepts, more out of gratitude than love. The girl eventually falls for Robinson's pal Arlen, who wants to break off the relationship before Robinson gets hurt. But Robinson catches the lovers together, and vows to kill Arlen. In attempting to throw his ex-friend to the sharks, Robinson is accidentally pulled overboard to his own death. Warner Bros. would unofficially remake Tiger Shark several times over the next ten years; while the professions of the two leading male characters would change, the basic "triangle" plot remained the same.


Legend has it that director Howard Hawks filmed Tiger Shark for Warner Brothers while on a fishing trip in Hawaii. Despite the off-handed nature of the production, the film -- based on the play, They Knew What They Wanted -- still manages to touch upon many of Hawks' signature themes. There's a morally complex love triangle, an examination of trust and loyalty, and the impending doom of an outside instrument of death (the sharks). Tiger Shark's driving story line is delivered in a typically Hawksian, no-nonsense style; the fishing scenes are highly charged and very realistic, significant for a film made in the 1930s. Two years after his breakthrough role in Little Caesar (1930), Edward G. Robinson proves his versatility as the Portuguese tuna boat skipper with a bitter, resentful side.


A minor but highly enjoyable Hawks adventure, with Robinson in expansive form as the Portuguese tuna fisherman who marries a friend's daughter, only to find that she has lost her heart to his younger buddy. Warners revamped the love-triangle story countless times, and Hawks himself reworked it for Barbary Coast; but the film's virtues lie less in its plot (which, with its protagonist mutilated by a shark, occasionally drifts rather waywardly into Moby Dick territory) than in its jaunty mood and in the evocative tuna-fishing sequences, shot on location on the Monterey coast.  

Excerpt of review from Timeout Film Guide located HERE


Theatrical Release: September 22nd, 1932


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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:17:21

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.79 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: February 24th, 2010
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Chapters 12





Tiger Shark is a well-made film. It is both a decent adventure and seems to have some interesting depth from Hawks. It's surprising simply because of the film's age - that it would be this cinematically... sophisticated. I guess that is not unique, but I'm still impressed with this level of full-bodied vintage filmmaking.

It's standard single-layered but progressive in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and looks ... old with some frame-specific damage (see last two captures). This is an early Warner Archive (with the old cover) and is an MoD DVD-R.  The image is a little green and has inconsistencies. It's a bit muddy - more apparent for the age and production limitations that the transfer.  The disc supports the film - appearing watchable - and the weaknesses are generally forgivable - all things considered.

The mono sound is as weak as similar efforts from the era and pretty unremarkable. There are no subtitles offered and no supplements - not even a trailer.

I imagine that this is probably the only way to see this outside of a lucky, late-night, television broadcast. I don't know if others will feel the same way about Tiger Shark as I do - but I will, certainly, revisit this oddly compelling flic. This would be the only way to get the value out of a DVD purchase.  

  - Gary Tooze



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Region 0 - NTSC


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