A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tiger Shark (Howard Hawks, 1932)

Richard Arlen, Edward G. Robinson, and Zita Johann in Tiger Shark
Mike Mascarenhas: Edward G. Robinson
Pipes Boley: Richard Arlen
Quita Silva: Zita Johann
Tony: J. Carrol Naish
Fishbone: Vince Barnett
Manuel Silva: William Ricciardi
Muggsey: Leila Bennett

Director: Howard Hawks
Screenplay: Wells Root
Based on a story by Houston Branch
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio
Film editor: Thomas Pratt
Assistant director: Richard Rosson

Howard Hawks made a classic in 1932, but it wasn't Tiger Shark, it was Scarface. Which is not to say that Tiger Shark isn't a very good film. It has a hugely energetic performance from Edward G. Robinson and some terrific second-unit footage (supervised by Richard Rosson) of actual deep-sea tuna fishing, beautifully edited into the story. It also has Hawks's efficient zip-through-the-slow-parts direction. The slow parts are provided by the film's too-familiar love triangle plot: Quita marries Mike, the homely older man, out of a sense of duty, but falls in love with Mike's first mate, Pipes, with a predictable outcome. Hawks later admitted that he stole the plot from Sidney Howard's 1924 Broadway play, They Knew What They Wanted, which was filmed in 1940 by Garson Kanin and which Frank Loesser turned into the musical The Most Happy Fella in 1956. The film really belongs to Robinson, who seems to be having great fun upstaging everyone, which isn't very hard with a second-string supporting cast. Arlen is stolid, and although Johann has a sultry exotic presence, it was put to better use in her other 1932 film, Karl Freund's The Mummy, in which she plays the woman stalked by Boris Karloff's Imhotep because of her resemblance to his long-dead love.

Turner Classic Movies

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