Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Tiger Fangs (1943)

When I was a kid, I loved Frank Buck's book Bring 'Em Back Alive!  Of course, this was at a time when our elementary school social studies books were hopelessly outdated and laughingly (I now realize) jingoistic about Africa and its people.  My knowledge of that continent was based on the Frank Buck, Clive Beatty, Tarzan, and Bomba movies -- as well as Saturday morning serials -- shown on television.  (Sorry, no Jungle Jim -- even to my unsophisticated mind, that show was b-o-r-i-n-g.)  The jungle was a place of mystery and adventure, of wild uncivilized men and wild beasts, of stunt men in gorilla suits and dangerous pits filled with crocodiles.  Great stuff!

For today's Overlooked Film, I've chosen Sam Newfield's Tiger Fangs, starring Frank Buck as Frank Buck!  Frank has to thwart evil Nazis and Japanese as they try to destroy the rubber industry in Malaysia.  The Nazis (in the form of the evil Dr. Lang and his assistant Henry Gratz) have been drugging tigers, turning them into maneaters.  This pre-PETA plan has to be stopped and Frank Buck is just the man to do it.   Assisting Frank Buck are the beautiful biologist Linda MacCardle, Peter Jeremy, and Geoffrey MacCardle.  Lots of animals, including some African animals (from stock footage) who really have no right being in Malaysia.

June Duprez (The Four Feathers, The Thief of Bagdad) played Linda MacCardle.  Duprez, an English actress, came to America following the fame she received in The Thief of Bagdad, but found few roles because of the high salary her agent demanded.  She left Hollywood in 1946 and retired from full-time acting in 1948.  She died in 1984 at age 66.

The actor playing Peter Jeremy is one of my favorites, the great Duncan Renaldo, Mr. Cisco Kid himself.  Born (probably) in Romania and orphaned, Renaldo came to America on a Brazilian coal ship which then caught fire at a Maryland pier and stranded him.  He made his living as a portrait painter (Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt bought one of his paintings), but was later arrested as an illegal immigrant.  He spent a year in jail because no one knew what his nationality was, then he was released after being signed to a contract and being vouched for by Republic Pictures; eventually he received a pardon from FDR.  Renaldo was typecast as a Latin in many B-movie programmers.  For a while he was one of the Three Mesquiteers.  In 1945, he was cast as the Cisco Kid and the rest is history.

J. Farrell MacDonald (1875-1952) was cast in the role of Geoffrey MacCardle.  MacDonald was a versatile character actor who appeared in hundreds of films (IMDB lists over 330 credits from 1911 through 1951).  Not much appears to be known about German-born Arno Frey who played the evil Dr. Lang.  Frey has 102 roles listed on IMDB, many of them uncredited, many as unnamed German characters.  265 pound actor Dan Seymour's weight and dark looks made him the perfect Hollywood heavy, and a good fit as Dr. Lang's assistant Henry Gratz.  Seymour appeared in many of the classic films of the 40s:  Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, Key Largo, and Johnny Bedelia among them.  Seymour was a good friend of director Fritz Lang and was named executor of his estate.

Director Sam Newfield directed hundreds of low budget movies beginning in 1926 and moved to television (Ramar of the Jungle, Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans, Tugboat Annie).  Interestingly, B-movie producer Fred Olen Ray has also used Sam Newfield, Sherman Scott, and Peter Stewart as pseudonyms (Scott and Stewart were both used by Newfield as pseudonymns).  Tiger Fangs was written by Arthur St. Claire, who penned 21 other movies in the 40s and had credits for five others -- nothing major, just entertaining B-movies.  The movie was produced by PRC Pictures, a bargain basement production company owned by Sam Newfield and his brother Sigmund Neufeld.


1 comment:

  1. A situation where the stories behind the film are more compelling than the film?