Tromba, the Tiger Man (1949)

(a.k.a. TROMBA)
Article #1444 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-26-2005
Posting Date: 7-26-2005
Directed by Helmut Weiss
Featuring Rene Deltgen, Angelika Hauff, Gustav Knuth

A crippled female circus owner rehires an animal trainer whose act involves using hypnotism on tigers, despite the fact that the trainer may have been responsible for the deaths of some acrobats and her own injuries.

When I first saw the title of this movie, I thought it was going to be another variation on the Tarzan story. I turned out to be wrong; it is, in fact, a circus drama, with the sole fantastic element being the use of hypnotism. The hypnotism gimmick is well used; much of the plot actually hinges on this power, and the scene where we see his routine in action is one of the most fascinating animal training sequences I’ve ever seen. Still, it’s mostly a drama involving several characters; beside the trainer and the female circus owner, we have the trainer’s jealous acrobat girlfriend, the owner’s teenage daughter who is trying to get into circus work herself against the wishes of her mother, and an ex-acrobat torn with guilt over the death of another member of his team. All of these characters have relationships with each other, and one of the problems I ultimately had with the movie is that many of these relationships are left unresolved at the end. Still, this may be due to the fact that the American print of the movie runs only 62 minutes, whereas the German print of it goes on for 96 minutes; with a good third of it missing, it’s no wonder that this version falls short dramatically. It’s still interesting to catch because of the somewhat offbeat story, but I’m willing to bet the German version is much better.


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