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After newlywed Claudia Rankin's husband is murdered, she sets out to avenge his killing by posing as a criminal and successfully infiltrating the gang of car thieves responsible for his death. However, this puts her own life in peril.
Entertaining Republic 40's crime-mystery with comic touches
Republic Pictures will always be best-known for its serials and westerns and John Wayne films, but their feature films, most of which resemble the "B" programmers of, say, Columbia or Universal, are a little-known asset of the studio. Most haven't been shown on TV in decades and few have been released on video. Republic issued a strange assortment of excellent and not so good (such as When Gangland Strikes) features back in the VHS days, but nothing really in 15 years. Republic features were almost always entertaining, economical, professionally made, well-cast, and tightly paced...just like their westerns. This particular feature, the first director credit of Philip Ford (nephew of John), casts the witty, square-jawed leading man of serials and b-action films, Kane Richmond, as a private eye sucked into a web of dirty dealings involving a nightclub owner, his wife, her "friend", etc. The night club is the Tiger Club, and thus the wife is the "Tiger Woman" of the title. No, this is not a jungle film and has nothing to do with the serial of the same name. Xavier Cugat vocalist and Republic leading lady Adele Mara plays Sharon, the Tiger Woman, and shows a range of emotions from confused, naive victim to mourning widow to shrill black widow. Ms. Mara is always a delight to see--her large seductive eyes are not soon forgotten!--and she did a lot of work for Republic in the mid and late 40's. Her boyfriend is played by British actor Richard Fraser (Picture of Dorian Gray), whose accent slips in here and there, and who does a good job of playing a character who thinks he's in control of the relationship with Ms. Mara but who is simply a plaything to be discarded. As always, Kane Richmond is the perfect b-movie leading man--handsome, athletic, witty, self-deprecating even while the character he's playing might be vain--and he and Adele Mara take what could be a standard, unimaginative mystery programmer and make it special. Also usual for Republic is the fine cast of colorful supporting players such as Cy Kendall (often a heavy, here a quirky police detective) and Gregory Gay (as a mobster/mortician (!!!!!) of uncertain ethnicity!). The print reviewed is a 16mm Hollywood Television Service (Republic's television syndication arm) copy with the republic logo removed, so it's possible that this copy could have a few minutes trimmed from the original theatrical release print, but most of these b-programmers are under an hour anyway, and the films moves quickly and gets a lot done in a short time. I also acquired at the same time as this film one made the next year at Republic with the same two stars, PASSKEY TO DANGER, and will try to review that within the next few weeks. THE TIGER WOMAN is a pleasant way to kill an hour, the mystery angle works quite well and while the conclusion could probably be anticipated, the film leads the viewer down so many other blind alleys that when the REAL conclusion comes it almost seems to come out of the blue. If only one could see the Republic library on some cable channel...
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