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Edward G. Robinson,
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Mike is a great tuna fisherman although he lost a hand to a shark years earlier saving Pipes Boley. Now Mike is happily married to Quita and doesn't notice that Pipes and Quita are falling for each other.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
All the old-time Hollywood studios recycled their scripts, turning previously-filmed properties into remakes and then re-remakes. More so than any other studio, Warner Brothers were notorious for re-re-re-remaking their previous films with only very slight changes in setting and dialogue. "Tiger Shark" is an historically significant film, as this movie provided the original template for a plot line which Warners recycled about two dozen times ... each time with just enough changes to fool the audience into thinking they were seeing an original plot. Except for stories which are in the public domain (such as Cinderella), "Tiger Shark" holds the all-time record for being re-made MORE OFTEN than any other movie ... each remake being "disguised" as a new movie.
The basic plot is this: an older man with a physical handicap falls in love with an attractive young woman who owes him a favour. She marries him, more out of a sense of obligation than for love. Then she becomes attracted to a handsome young man who works alongside her handicapped husband. The young man returns her attraction, and they start having an affair. The husband discovers his wife's infidelity, and then (in the climax of the film) he and the younger man duke it out. That's the plot of "Tiger Shark", starring Edward G. Robinson, and it's also the plot of two dozen other Warners films which are uncredited remakes of "Tiger Shark".
Compare this film to "Manpower" (1941), also starring Robinson. In "Tiger Shark" he plays a one-handed fisherman, with a hook at the end of his left arm. In "Manpower" he plays an electrical lineman with a limp. In both films, his love interest is a younger woman with a European accent: Zita Johann here, Marlene Dietrich in "Manpower". Robinson's younger rival in "Tiger Shark" (played by Richard Arlen) is basically the same character as Robinson's rival in "Manpower" (George Raft). The climax of "Tiger Shark" is a fight on the seashore; the climax of "Manpower" is a fistfight at the top of a telephone pole during a lightning storm. Once you allow for the change of setting, they're both the same film. I could make the same connections between "Tiger Shark" and about two dozen other Warners films, not all of them starring Robinson.
"Tiger Shark" benefits from some excellent direction by Howard Hawks. Richard Arlen is unfairly forgotten nowadays, but he was the closest thing Hollywood had to Harrison Ford before Harrison Ford came along. (I'm referring of course to the modern Harrison Ford, not the silent-film actor of the same name.) Arlen gives a good performance here. Zita Johann is excellent here, hampered only by her thick accent. She retired early from films to marry the producer John Houseman, long before Houseman became an Oscar-winning actor. Johann's most famous role is the female lead in "The Mummy" opposite Boris Karloff. When Johann published her autobiography in the 1980s, the publishers' promo material played up the fact that Johann had co-starred with Karloff, but they managed to avoid mentioning *which* Karloff film she'd been in: apparently they were afraid we would think that Zita Johann was a "scream queen" actress who only starred in horror films.
I'll rate "Tiger Shark" 7 out of 10 on its own merits, or 9 points if you're an aspiring screenwriter who wants to study this film so you can learn how a single plot line can be reworked repeatedly.
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