Cast & Crew
When a man-eating tiger snatches a baby from its mother's arms, the Indian government hires illustrious game hunter Harry Black to vanquish the beast. In the jungle, Harry and his faithful Indian companion Bapu have the tiger in their gun sights when a noisy car scares it away. Harry recognizes the driver as Desmond Tanner, the man responsible for the amputation of Harry's leg during World War II. Desmond, with his wife Christian and young son Michael, has come to India to manage a large plantation owned by a British corporation. When Desmond asks to join the hunt, Harry, who harbors a long-simmering resentment against Desmond for his cowardice during the war, refuses, but after Desmond confides that he wants to make his son proud, Harry relents. Harry's misgivings are justified when Desmond's rifle misfires and he barely grazes the tiger. Infuriated, the beast lunges at Harry and brutally mauls him. In a delirium of pain, Harry's mind slips back to World War II when he and Desmond were bunkmates in a German prisoner of war camp: With the help of the other prisoners, they dig an escape tunnel under the barracks. Once the tunnel is completed, the men scramble into it, but when one is spotted by the German guards, Desmond freezes in fright. Harry loses precious minutes vainly trying to convince him to continue, and so emerges on the other side too late, for the guards gun him down and shatter his leg. After being rescued by his fellow escapees, Harry is taken to the hospital. Back in the present, Harry is transported to the Tanner plantation, where his wounds are treated by a doctor and a nurse. When Christian tries to explain Desmond's behavior, Harry asks if she is happy and she replies that she is content. While Harry recovers, the tiger also regains his strength. One day, Michael comes to Harry for help with his Bible lessons, and when Harry leafs through Christian's Bible, he finds a dried flower that he gave her years earlier. Soon after, Desmond flies to Calcutta to interview for a promotion as co-chairman of the corporation for which he works. When the tiger claims another victim, Harry leaves the partially eaten body as bait. While awaiting the return of the beast, Harry recalls the first time he saw Christian: After his release from the hospital, Harry goes to meet Desmond's family. When Christian asks why her husband, still incarcerated in the camp, failed to escape, Harry lies that Desmond courageously waited behind to watch for the guards. While on a picnic, Harry gives Christian a flower, and soon, they fall in love. Stricken with guilt, Harry bids Christian goodbye and returns to duty. Harry's thoughts return to the present, and he begins to drink to assuage the pain of lost love. When the tiger appears, Harry, drunk, thinks he is hallucinating and calls in fear to Bapu, scaring the tiger away. After Harry embarks on an alcoholic binge, Bapu summons Christian, who locks away his whiskey and chastises him for his behavior. Sobered by Christian's scolding, Harry decides to give up the hunt and leave the territory. When word comes that Michael has been thrown from his horse and is stranded in the jungle, however, Harry, fearing that the boy may be the tiger's next victim, springs into action. With Christian and Bapu following, Harry plunges into the jungle in search of Michael. Stalked by the tiger, Michael has taken refuge in a tree, and when Harry finds him, Christian breaks down in tears of relief and kisses Harry. Upon returning to the plantation, Christian hysterically accuses Harry of destroying her happiness and admits that she still loves him. As Christian drives Harry home, Harry voices his love and they embrace. The next day, Harry tracks the tiger to a cave and when the beast attacks, Harry shoots and kills him. Victorious, Harry hurries back to Christian and is greeted by Desmond, who has just returned from Calcutta. Desmond then informs him that he has been awarded the position of vice chairman and that his new job requires he move his family to London. Christian, realizing that she cannot sacrifice Michael's happiness for her own, resolves to stay with her husband. After Desmond offers a toast to happiness, Christian replies that all one can hope for is contentment. When Harry drives off, Christian senses she will never see him again.
I. S. Johar
The film ends with the following written acknowledgment: "The producer wishes to thank the Government of India for their help and cooperation during the production of this film." The Harrrison's Reports review adds that the film was shot on location in India. According to a July 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, Twentieth Century-Fox co-produced this picture with the British company Mersham Productions, Ltd. A September 1958 New York Times news item notes that I. S. Johar, the well-known producer, writer and director of Indian independent films, made his American acting debut in this picture. When Harry Black and the Tiger opened in London, its running time was 117 minutes. The Daily Variety review of the London opening complained that the film "lost much of its impact through unnecessary length...it runs at least 15-20 minutes too long." By the time the film reached the United States, its runnning time had been cut to 106 minutes.