Cast & Crew
When wealthy French heiress Tracy Mallambert travels to Athens to hire an unscrupulous captain named Carson to smuggle her into Communist-held Albania, the captain refuses, warning her that the country is overrun with secret police. Later that evening, Carson is forced to flee the police in his yacht after his drunken deck hand, Mike, becomes embroiled in a tavern brawl. Once at sea, he finds a persistent Tracy in the wheel room. Already en route to Albania on other business, Carson agrees to take Tracy for an inflated fee. The next morning, Carson returns to the yacht after telegraphing his Albanian contact and finds Mike assaulting Tracy. At first, Carson caustically refuses to help the self-assured woman, but finally subdues Mike. Humbled by the incident, Tracy reveals that she is looking for her brother Henri, a western diplomat rumored to have become a Communist. The next morning, the yacht arrives at a rocky hillside in Albania where Carson's contact, Kol Stendho, takes them to a fishing hut and introduces Tracy to the "trade" in which Carson is involved: the smuggling of Greek children out of Albania. Four trembling Greek children are awaiting safe passage to Greece, having been left behind or kidnapped during the Communist takeover. Carson begrudgingly agrees to escort Tracy to Vosjev, where Henri is being held, and leaves the children to wait for their return. He then orders Mike to return with the yacht the following night. En route to Vosjev, Kol shoots a checkpoint guard and then hastily drops Carson and Tracy off to continue on alone, knowing that other Communist soldiers will soon be in pursuit. As they walk into the deserted town, Tracy hears someone playing the church organ and runs into the vestibule, where Henri, now blind, is seated at the keys. Her brother explains that when he tried to commit suicide while in Communist custody, government officials blinded him and sent him to Vosjev to keep him quiet. Moved by the young man's tragedy, Carson agrees to smuggle Henri out of the country. After introducing Tracy and Carson to his young friend Abdyll, Henri takes them to the Countess of Valona, who asks that they smuggle her granddaughter Mara, Henri's lover, out of Albania as well. When the group reaches the fishing hut later that day, two military guards hold them at gunpoint. In the ensuing fight, Carson punches one guard out and knocks a gun across the floor. After Tracy shoots the other guard with the gun and drops it, Abdyll picks the firearm up to use as a toy. The group, now including the Greek children, then flees into the barren hillside, where a gracious farmer and his wife invite them to eat and stay the night. Later, Carson, softened by the children's request to wish them goodnight and Tracy's motherly care, intimates that he undertook the journey out of his love for Tracy. The next morning, the farmers add their own children to the group, who continue towards the border. After the group accepts food at a shepherds' camp, several jeeps filled with security guards catch up to them and load them in trucks. Believing they are about to meet impending doom, Tracy tries to get Carson to admit his feelings for her and the children. Suddenly an Albanian guerrilla army of mountain horsemen ambushes the caravan of security police trucks. The bandit's captain, clad in a conglomeration of German, American and Albanian uniforms, boastfully introduces himself as Trifon and insists that Tracy accompany him on his horse, while the others travel with his men back to a hidden village of Albanians. Later that evening, when Tracy returns Trifon's brusque kiss to make Carson jealous, Carson suddenly points his gun at Trifon. After Trifon also pulls out his gun, his father wisely forbids any more kissing for the evening. The next morning, Trifon blackmails Tracy into staying with him in the village in exchange for providing the rest of the group safe passage out of Albania. Later, Trifon and his soldiers accompany the group to within a half mile of the border, where Communist security guards are stationed. When Trifon's bandits attack the guards below, giving the group a chance to escape through a heavily guarded checkpoint in the cliffs above, Trifon refuses to climb the dangerous cliff face to disperse the guards with grenades. While Carson tackles the cliff, Tracy insists that Trifon prove his bravery before she will return with him to the village. High above, inexperienced mountaineer Carson falters in his steps, causing rocks to fall on the guards, who begin shooting at him. To prove his bravery, Trifon orders his bandits to ride directly into the guards' fire and attack them. After being mortally wounded, Trifon deliriously raves about disarming the Communists as he dies in Tracy's arms. With their path now clear, the group reaches a border station bearing Greek signage in the morning. When the station turns out to be a Communist ruse, guards return the group to the fishing hut, where Kol, now posing as a Communist dressed in an officer's uniform, interrogates Carson. Soon after, in a moment alone, Kol hands his own children over to Carson and assures him that he will help them get through the guards and board the yacht safely when Mike arrives. A security guard, having overheard the plan, holds Kol at gunpoint as they approach the dock where the yacht is waiting. With over a dozen armed guards hidden in the cliffs above ready to stop the smugglers, Tracy realizes the plan has failed. As she bends down to hug the children, Abdyll secretly hands her his gun, which she slips to Carson. Holding a security guard at gunpoint, Carson safely loads the children on the yacht. When the guard shoots Kol, surrounding soldiers begin firing. From the dock, Carson helps the wounded Kol onto the boat and returns fire on the guards while ordering Mike to push off. As the boat takes off, Carson jumps into the water and is pulled aboard to safety by a towline. Later on the boat, Carson embraces Tracy and jokes that families are trouble, but suggests he would gladly start one with her.
Joseph D. Blau
John W. Meyer
A. W. Watkins
George W. Willoughby
Adrian D. Worker
TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON
The new schedule for the evening of Tuesday, December 23rd will be:
8:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime
9:45 PM A Guy Named Joe
12:30 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
2:30 AM The Last Time I Saw Paris
4:30 AM Thrill of a Romance
Van Johnson (1916-2008)
Van Johnson, the boyish leading man whose clean cut, All-American appeal made him a top box-office draw for MGM during World War II, died on December 12 in Nyack, New York of natural causes. He was 92.
He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on August 25, 1916, in Newport, Rhode Island. By his own account, his early childhood wasn't a stable one. His mother abandoned him when he was just three and his Swedish-born father offered little consolation or nurturing while he was growing up. Not surprisingly, Johnson found solace in singing and dancing lessons, and throughout his adolescence, he longed for a life in show business. After graduating high school in 1934, he relocated to New York City and was soon performing as a chorus boy on Broadway in shows such as New Faces of 1936 and eventually as an understudy in Rodgers and Hart's musical, Too Many Girls in 1939.
Johnson eventually made his way to Hollywood and landed an unbilled debut in the film version of Too Many Girls (1940). By 1941, he signed a brief contract with Warner Bros., but it only earned him a lead in a "B" programmer Murder in the Big House (1941); his contract soon expired and he was dropped by the studio. Johnson was on his way back to New York, but as luck would have it - in the truest Hollywood sense - friends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz introduced him to Billy Grady, a lead talent scout at MGM, which was currently Ball's new studio. Johnson was signed up and almost immediately MGM had a star on its hands.
It might have been slow going at first, with Johnson playing able support in films such as Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant and The War Against Mrs. Hadley (both 1942). By 1943 the studio capitalized on his broad smile and freckles and starred him in two of the studio's biggest hits: A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy. Those two films transformed him into a boxoffice draw with a huge following, particularly among teenage girls. A near fatal car accident that same year only accentuated the loyalty of his fans, and his 4-F status as the result of that accident created an opportunity for him when so many other leading actors of the era (James Stewart, Clark Gable) were off to war. Johnson was quickly promoted as MGM'sleading man in war heroics and sweet romancers on the big screen: The White Cliffs of Dover, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (both 1944), Thrill of a Romance, the episodic Week-End at the Waldorf (both 1945), and a musical remake of Libeled Lady entitled Easy to Wed (1946).
Hits though these were, it wasn't until after the war that Johnson began to receive more dramatic parts and better material such as supporting Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the political farce State of the Union (1948). other significant roles included the well-modulated noir thriller The Scene of the Crime, the grim war spectacle Battleground (both 1949), the moving domestic drama Invitation (1952) in which he played a man who is paid to marry a woman (Dorothy McGuire) by her father. Before he left MGM, he closed his career out in fine form with the sweeping musical Brigadoon, co-starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and the lilting soaper The Last Time I Saw Paris (both 1954) with Elizabeth Taylor.
After he left MGM, the parts that came Johnson's way weren't as varied, but he had his moments in The Caine Mutiny (1954), the beguiling romance drama Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman; and his lead performance in one of the first successful made for-TV-movies The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957). By the '60s, Johnson returned to the stage, and played the title role in London's West End production of The Music Man. He then returned to Broadway in the drama Come on Strong. He still had a few good supporting parts, most notably as Debbie Reynolds' suitor in Norman Lear's scathing satire on marital differences Divorce American Style (1967); and television welcomed his presence on many popular shows in the '70s and '80s such as Maude, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and of course Murder She Wrote. There was one last graceful cameo in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), yet for the most remainder of his career, Johnson worked mainly on the dinner theater circuit before retiring from showbiz completely by the mid-90s. He is survived by a daughter, Schuyler.
by Michael T. Toole
TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON
Action of the Tiger
In a small role as Mike, Carson's rough-hewn first mate is Sean Connery. His most memorable moment in the film is when he gets to chase Tracy around Carson's boat in a failed attempt at seduction. Martine Carol, it should be noted, was France's biggest sex siren in the early fifties until she was usurped by Brigitte Bardot. Her off screen life often generated headlines, especially after a failed suicide attempt in 1947 when she threw herself in the Seine River after a torrid affair with married actor Georges Marchal.
Many believe that Connery made his movie debut in a 1958 film entitled Another Time, Another Place, the poster of which prominently displayed the words "Introducing Sean Connery." In truth, Connery had already done supporting turns in a handful of small films, including No Road Back (1957), Hell Drivers (1957) with Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan and Herbert Lom, and Action of the Tiger, directed by Terence Young. The Scottish actor would reunite with the latter director for Dr. No (1962) five years later. After that, Connery and Young made two more Bond films together, From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965).
Producer: Joseph Blau, Kenneth Harper, Johnny Meyer, George Willoughby
Director: Terence Young
Screenplay: Robert Carson, Helen Goss, Peter Myers, James Wellard (novel)
Cinematography: Desmond Dickinson
Film Editing: Frank Clarke
Art Direction: Scott MacGregor
Music: Humphrey Searle
Cast: Van Johnson (Carson), Martine Carol (Tracy Malvoisie), Herbert Lom (Trifon), Gustavo Rojo (Henri Malvoisie), Jose Nieto (Kol Stendho), Helen Haye (Countess Valona).
by Scott McGee
Action of the Tiger
The opening and closing cast credits vary slightly in order. The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, A Claridge Film Production starring Van Johnson, Martine Carol, Herbert Lom: Action of the Tiger." The film closes with the following quotation: "'In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger . . . ' William Shakespeare's Henry V."
As portrayed in the film, Albania was under Communist control beginning in the 1940s, while Greece, its southern neighbor, remained allied with Great Britain and the United States. By 1948, after leading resistance against invading Italian and German forces in the early 1940s, Albanian Communists had consolidated power and allied themselves with the Soviet Union. The southern-most region of Albania, which was depicted in the film, was known as Northern Epirus and had a substantial Greek minority.
Action of the Tiger was the first and only production for Van Johnson Enterprises, Inc. As noted in reviews, portions of the film were shot on location in Spain, which stands in for the Albanian countryside, with cast headquarters in Almunecar, Spain. Additional shooting took place in Athens, Greece and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in Boreham Wood, Elstree, England. Action of the Tiger marked actress Martine Carol's first major role in an English language film.