Action Of The Tiger (1957): Breakdown by Kain424
Mercenary attempts to smuggle ex-Communists and children to Greece from Communist Albania.
Before he brought James Bond to the big screen with 1962’s Dr. No, Terence Young was a British action and thriller director. Young’s films often featured world-weary heroes reluctantly forced into action by women and circumstance. Action Of The Tiger is one such film.
Taking place in the era of which it was filmed, there are a lot of anti-Communist propaganda elements. The citizens of Albania are living in destitution among ruins, too proud to leave but more than willing to send their children off to capitalist societies. Our hero, played by Van Johnson, is no less a contradiction. Basically a smuggler or mercenary (his occupation is only described as “will do anything for money”), he seems to gravitate toward good deeds. Still, he doesn’t seem all that sympathetic when a woman is struggling for her virtue against his brutish first mate aboard his boat. This topsy-turvy morality continues throughout the film, building an air of uncertainty almost up to the end.
The film itself is a small epic, bringing us to exotic locales and introducing us to various different cultures. Young almost glorifies the lands depicted, but then instills us with a sense of dread and danger, having devious villains and hordes of bandits attack. Allies can’t be trusted and objectives are seen to be as elusive as they are difficult. Every step of our characters’ journey is plagued with setbacks and mounting obstacles. They try to rescue the female main character’s brother, and find him to be blind; as they attempt to escape, they gain more and more child refugees in their group; bandits who help them turn out to be possibly more dangerous as allies. One can never be sure if our protagonists will make it and, if anyone does, who will be left alive by the film’s end.
The action, for its time, is handled pretty well. Violence is emphasized, but not in a gory fashion. There are a lot of people shot and blown up here, but some of it is meant to be pure entertainment. There’s even a bar fight at one point, and this is played for laughs. 007 fans will be interested to note that along with the director of future Bond films, the suave British agent himself appears in the film. Sean Connery plays Mike, Carson’s right-hand man. He’s drunken, unshaven and decidedly non-sophisticated. Still, I find him much more interesting when onscreen than our leading man.
The plot’s been replicated a few times since, but the movie still manages to hold up. Van Johnson’s performance stands out as a bit of a weak point in an otherwise fairly entertaining feature. It’s got plenty of cool plot twists, and it’s 90-minute running time allows for a less than boring viewing. On top of that, Connery’s presence (though in a very limited capacity) makes it a bit of a nice catch for fans.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Van Johnson is Carson
The guy apparently has a pretty bad-ass (or whorish, depending on how you read into it) reputation for doing anything for money. It’s implied that he’s gone and done some very dangerous stuff in the past. There’s a funny moment when the heroine places some money on the table he’s playing poker at. It’s to show him she’s serious, but he just uses it in the game he’s playing and promptly loses it.
As far as acting goes, I can’t say I’m a fan. He seems to be an old school actor, tough because the script says so and never having to prove it. He barely changes his facial expression and in one creepy moment, seems to laugh without smiling. Still, he climbs up a mountain ledge to drop grenades on an outpost of villains. So that’s pretty bad-ass.
[THE BODY COUNT: 29]
There are several battle scenes in the film, and my count here seems fairly close. Van Johnson manages to kill four or five and Carol Martine even gets one in. While most of the deaths are faceless bad or good guys during the battle scenes (including the one Connery kills), there is still one main character that falls prey to the great many bullets whizzing about onscreen.
All in all, it’s a fairly bloodless film, but I suppose the quantity makes up for the lack of quality.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Trifon. I can’t think of a single character in recent memory that has turned me against him so fast. Upon meeting the bandit captain, I immediately took a liking to the guy. Three or four rape attempts, a couple moments of cowardice, and a blackmailing subplot later, and I was more than willing to see the fucker go.
So when our heroine, Martine Carol, kinda talks Trifon into rushing the machine gun-equipped enemy on horseback, I almost gave the film a standing ovation. Almost.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
All the main characters seem to hunger for female touch. In particular, they want Martine Carol. So there’s nothing here.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Twice, our main female character is nearly raped. Both times by supposedly good guys, too. Connery attempts to rape her in Carson’s boat, with Carson looking and not really giving a shit. Afterwords, the Scotsman merely apologizes and the issue is never again mentioned between them.
Still, there is an old “Countess” whom all characters treat with respect until the bad guys arrive. She stubbornly holds her ground when questioned, but then gets a gloved backhand for her pride. Conversation ended.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Without giving too much of the plot away, I liked the entire climactic escape sequence. Terence Young crafts a very tense series of events, all leading to one moment. Everyone’s nearly gotten away, been captured, and are now nearly away again. Everything must go “without a hitch”, but a shadow of an Eve’s dropper shows us that someone has overheard their plan. Will they make it?
The one-liner, I got from the exchange between Carson (Van Johnson) and Tracie (Martine Carol):
Carson: “My usual fee is five thousand, but –“
Tracie: “I don’t expect favors from a cut-price Galahad!”
Carson: “You didn’t let me finish. I was going to say for you, TEN thousand.”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Rape is hilarious if you’re drunk. And no matter how mercenary you may be, a hot woman and children in need are all it takes to get you to change your ways.
[THE CHECKLIST: 14 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[ ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
Action Of The Tiger (1957) © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)