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One critic said of Linda Stirling, acknowledged queen of serials, and of the "The Tiger Woman", that it is by far her best serial. The photographic qualities, cinematic development and acting affirm his opinion, in my judgment. The plot involves a tantalizingly vague jungle location, which some suggest was South America. The prize is oil; and the Inter Ocean Oil Company's owners are after it, as well as men from a nefarious rival organization. The kicker in this interesting setup is the long-lost daughter of a millionaire, one who was lost very young and has become queen of the local tribe. The rivals plan to find evidence that the girl called Tiger Woman is the missing daughter, replace the girl, born Rita Arnold, with a fake who will cede them the oil rights--but first they have to sabotage their opponents, before they can claim the inheritance, and steal their other prize, the oil. The Tiger Woman (who came out of the skies to become leader of a local tribe and a near-goddess to others nearby) is opposing their attempts; all InterOcean has going for it is in this situation is Allen Saunders (Rock Lane), their ace engineer and troubleshooter. Other critics have noted that Spencer Gordon Bennett has introduced here out-of-place elements that the classic action film directors John English and William Witney would not have allowed. But the fact is that this serial is very attractively directed and the leads are very good separately and together. Stirling is gorgeous and looks good in motion; and Lane is attractive, bright and can even act (he was later in his career the important voice of "Mr. Ed" the talking horse in a TV series). The queen may be habitually overdressed, but she is dressed attractively; there is also an exotic dance during a torture rite aimed at Saunders, and the leads are obviously attracted to one another and hit it off from the first. The rest of the plot is (as usual in series) repetitive and made to halt for cliff-hanger moments resolved (the next week during original release) by near-impossible escapes. This was a late serial, and Bennett dressed his opus up with rollicking fistfights, demolished furniture and group battles. The sudden escapes here include the usual being supposedly unconscious and hurtling toward a cliff in a moving vehicle, being trapped in a mine as flaming oil approaches and many more. My favorite kitsch moment is the Tiger Woman's escape from the motorboat as it heads toward a steamboat full of explosives. But the distinguishing quality of this serial I assert is the regal quality of Stirling and the unusual charisma of Lane. The supporting cast is good as well. Six writers and another director were needed to mount this expensive-looking production, the latter Wallace Grissell. Nice guy Duncan Renaldo is Lane's partner throughout the proceedings; George J. Lewis plays a capable villain. LeRoy Mason, Crane Whitley, Robert Frazer, Rico De Montez and Nolan Leary are also featured along with very capable stunt men and women. The lucid cinematography for the piece was provided by Bud Thackeray and Ernest Miller; the art direction was the work of Fred A. Ritter with set decorations by Otto Siegel and Charles S. Thompson. I saw this serial during a 1950s re-release, and I can recall how lovely Linda Stirling was, and how excitingly different. These were the days when she was allowed to fight successfully, and be menaced thoroughly, while in most films women stood around and bit their knuckles during any time of menace. This is not a great serial, but given all the later jungle girl, lost heiress-queen spinoffs, it was the most influential by far.
What a pleasure to see such a beautiful hero. I am a serial buff and always look forward to seeing Linda, along with the blond version of Jean Rogers (Flash Gordon serials.)I was sorry to learn of her passing since I would loved to send her a fan letter after all these years of her movie making. I am not kid and generally would not think of sending out fan letters. As a writer, I believe her story would make an interesting book. In retrospect, we don't have many around who can play her with the attractiveness and agility of her part as the "Tiger woman". The only place I see that these days is on the TV series from New Zealand, Conan Doyle's The Lost World.I understand she got into the business without experience and from a career as a model. This is an action packed serial, with a body count as high as you can find in any serial. It has the traditional fight scenes with a multitude of break-away chairs and cliff hanger endings. Why don't the theaters play these "chapters" on Saturday Matinees any more? I think that is where all of the movie buffs discovered the magic of film.
Tiger... leopard..., who cares!!! The important stuff is that serials
like this was supposed to be just for us, kids who don't make a fuss
about feline taxonomy, furry expertise or nothing like that. And, of
course, it remains what's really relevant: emotion, suspense, romance,
perils of all kind, (which is about the same), flammables and
explosives, dangerous natives, not so native villains, the White
Goddess always running walking the thin line, hanging from a thin rope
and semper fi always around to rescue her, or the other way around,
exactly as it should be in real or surreal life. At 67 I'm still a kid
and I'll never forget my white knuckles matinées back in a small sort
of a barn acting as a movie house in an even smaller village down in
the countryside of Chile, South America.
Therefore, don't waste us time with useless technical comments... Leave them for Matrix unloaded, uploaded or reloaded.
A few months ago I saw all full chapters of the Tiger Woman on a free web page that I'll leave for you to search is you care as I did. It took me back more than 50 years in a nanosecond and it made me know how I was and reacted to magic every Sunday afternoon.
What else should you expect from a movie serial?
In reviewing "Panther Girl of the Kongo" I confused the costume for this film as being the one that Phyllis Coates wore in "Panther Girl." Sor-ry. This film has the heroine (Linda Stirling) wearing a leopard skin costume and being called "The Tiger Woman." She does not resemble a tiger in any way, shape or form. "Monkey Woman" is more suitable as all she does is swing through trees and get knocked out cold in her many fights with the villains. Allan "Rocky" Lane mugs as the hero (he was better as "Mr. Ed") who is ever-so-hell-bent on building an oilwell but keeps getting foiled by old hand-me-down George J. Lewis who is ever-so-hell-bent on not having it built. The stuntwoman for Linda Stirling has a bit to do here, but doesn't get quite the workout that the one for Kay Aldridge did in "Nyoka and the Tigermen." Duncan Renaldo could not play anyone but "The Cisco Kid." The Cisco Kid never had to play a scene where he looked scared. The scene where the water is rushing into a cave (boy, Republic loved those caves, didn't they?) and traps Stirling and Renaldo equals Will's crocodile tears session on "Big Brother 2." Puh-leeze. Not convincing in the least. Nothing better on TV? Kill time with this one. (if only to see Allan Lane at his conceited worst.)
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