25 user 7 critic

The Sleeping Tiger (1954)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | 8 October 1954 (USA)
After a convict breaks in a psychotherapist's home, he agrees to rehabilitation rather than arrest but the therapist's wife becomes infatuated with him.


Joseph Losey (as Victor Hanbury)


Maurice Moiseiwitsch (novel), Harold Buchman (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Dirk Bogarde ... Frank Clemmons
Alexis Smith ... Glenda Esmond
Alexander Knox ... Dr. Clive Esmond
Hugh Griffith ... The Inspector
Patricia McCarron Patricia McCarron ... Sally Foster
Maxine Audley ... Carol
Glyn Houston ... Bailey
Harry Towb ... Harry, second criminal
Russell Waters Russell Waters ... Manager of Pearce & Mann
Billie Whitelaw ... Receptionist at Pearce & Mann
Fred Griffiths Fred Griffiths ... Taxi Driver
Esma Cannon ... Scrubwoman with ladder


Psychotherapist Dr. Clive Esmond (Alexander Knox) attempts to rehabilitate convict Frank Clemmens (Sir Dirk Bogarde) in his house after Frank tries to hold him up. The criminal cooperates rather than being handed over to the Police. The therapist's wife Glenda (Alexis Smith) becomes infatuated with the man in the hopes he will take her away.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hidden deep within every woman is a Sleeping Tiger ... when aroused it can turn a saint into a sinner ! See more »


Drama | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


When this movie first appeared, the direction was credited to Victor Hanbury, a real-life Producer, who only agreed to take the credit when the actual Director, the blacklisted Joseph Losey, insisted that this would be a great help to him, as he needed the work. Although several versions of this movie, including the DVD, still credit Hanbury, there are prints where Losey is credited under his own name. The first several times it was shown on British television, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Losey had the credit. See more »


Angry that Frank has left her Glenda wearing a black dress runs from the house, jumps in her car and drives off. Spotting Frank (Dirk Bogarde) walking along the road she stops and picks him up but she's now wearing a coat. See more »


Dr. Clive Esmond: What do you think of him, Glenda? Is he worth saving?
See more »

User Reviews

Provocative Ideas Clouded Over
21 July 2018 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

An overdone psychodrama whose twists and turns require some unfortunate stretches.

Too bad the plot ironies finally drown in a tidal wave of over-emotion. Apparently, ace director Losey couldn't tone down Smith's carpet chewing finale that unfortunately overwhelms what's gone before. At the same time, we're hit over the head with the finale's sleeping tiger irony. I think the audience can put two and two together without that billboard contrivance.

Seems Glenda (Smith) is the highly repressed wife of coldly intellectual Dr. Clive (Knox), who's been neglecting her emotional needs as he pursues his writing and research. In that same pursuit he takes proven felon Frank (Bogarde) into his household in order to test his theory of criminal reform. Clive's main reform tool is to excuse Frank's misbehavior whether criminal or moral in order to get at the causes of Frank's disordered psyche. Needless to say, such indulgences cause all kinds of problems, both inside the household and out.

As Doc's indulgences mount, it seems that an optimistic ideal is being mocked. Namely, that there are no bad people, only mistreated kids who then grow into criminal behavior. For example, while in the Doc's "care", Frank robs a jewelry store, and maybe worse, spits on Clive's generosity by seducing wife Glenda. In return, the Doc simply ignores the mounting transgressions. To me, that willingness, which also puts people in Doc's community in danger, looks like a mockery of a liberal brand of Freudianism then in vogue. It may be a provocative idea for the film to play with. Nonetheless, the tiger upshot undercuts that optimism, at the same time it clouds the film's one very real tragedy.

Anyway, Bogarde comes through with a nicely modulated turn, while Knox deadpans through thick and thin, even as Smith does the sleeping tiger to an ear-splitting roar. Apparently the movie was filmed more cheaply abroad at a time when TV was eating into movie profits. So, on a small budget, don't expect much in terms of scenery or action, though noir master Losey does work in some atmosphere. To me, the story's highlight and genuine tragedy is downplayed, but is present nevertheless if you think about it. As the 90-minutes stands, it's something of a disappointment given the talent involved.

(In passing-depending on the camera angle there are times when it appears Frank and Glenda resemble Lucy and Desi from TV's iconic I Love Lucy. Then again, maybe I had one too many beers!)

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Release Date:

8 October 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La bête s'éveille See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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