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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Harry Black And The Tiger (1958)

Hired by the British home office to hunt down and kill a man eating tiger that has been raiding villages in an Indian province, Harry Black (Stewart Granger) must not only contend with his failing courage but the reappearance of a wartime friend (Anthony Steel) and his wife (Barbara Rush) who he fell in love with while Steel was a prisoner in a POW camp in Germany. Directed by Hugo Fregonese and based on the novel HARRY BLACK by David Walker, the film is about courage and fear in their various forms. Granger's fear of the tiger, Steel's fear of escape from the POW camp (which causes Harry to lose his leg) and Rush's fear of leaving her husband for Granger and even the tiger's own fear of death. Granted, the tiger is a man eater and must be destroyed but he's such a beautiful creature and one develops a perverse sympathy for him, wounded and struggling to survive in the jungle as the vultures hover over him ... waiting. Granger, never the most stimulating of actors, is quite good here in possibly his best performance. The authentic India locations give the film an atmospheric feel. John Wilcox (EXPRESSO BONGO) is responsible for the CinemaScope lensing and Clifton Parker the score (his scoring for the goodbye in the rain is particularly lovely). With I.S. Johar (DEATH ON THE NILE) in a BAFTA nominated performance and Kamala Devi (soon to be Mrs. Chuck Connors).

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