Tiger Shark (1932)

Tiger Shark (1932)

“No fisherman can go to heaven with a bite out of him!”

A proud Portuguese-American fisherman (Edward G. Robinson) loses his hand to a shark after saving his friend and shipmate (Richard Arlen) from death at sea, then marries the beautiful daughter (Zita Johann) of a recently deceased crewman (William Ricciardi), not knowing Johann and Arlen are secretly in love.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Edward G. Robinson Films
  • Fishermen
  • Howard Hawks Films
  • Love Triangle

Reading TCM’s article about the genesis of this “crafty, Depression era rip-off of Moby Dick” provides fascinating insights into its wheeling-dealing director (Howard Hawks), its “scenery-chewing” star (Edward G. Robinson), and its lusty/gory storyline (apparently improvised on the spur of the moment by Hawks, who gleefully “stole” from the 1924 play-turned-film They Knew What They Wanted). Originally entitled Tuna (good thing that changed), the strengths of this rather hoary love triangle lie in Robinson’s enjoyable portrayal as an enthusiastic “Port-u-gee”, and in the exciting footage of fishing-in-action, complete with plenty of heart-stopping, genuinely dangerous moments aboard the ship. Unfortunately, viewers know from the get-go that Robinson’s luckless-in-love “Mike Mascarena” is in for heartache, so we’re simply placed in the unenviable position of wondering how this hopeless situation will work itself out.

Note: Film fanatics may recognize the soulful Johann from her performance in The Mummy the same year; her career was quite short (ending in 1934).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Edward G. Robinson as Mike Mascarena
  • Tony Gaudio’s cinematography

  • Exciting footage of on-board fishing

Must See?
No, though of course it will be of interest to fans of Robinson and/or Hawks.


One thought on “Tiger Shark (1932)

  1. Not must-see.

    Late in the film, there’s a somewhat-exciting sequence involving Robinson’s crew catching fish (as noted above as a ‘redeeming quality’). But, otherwise…at 77 minutes, the film somewhat short-changes plot and characterization. The story’s love triangle sort of suddenly flies at us in an under-developed way. As for Robinson – who can usually do no wrong…it’s not that he’s unbelievable in his portrayal, but he can only add so much to what seems a surface character. It’s not among his best work.

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