Newest Reviews
Dolce Vita, La
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
East, The
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
No Man of God
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Newest Articles
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
  Tiger Bay Go East Young Man
Year: 1934
Director: J. Elder Wills
Stars: Anna May Wong, Henry Victor, Lawrence Grossmith, Margaret Yarde, René Ray, Victor Garland, Ernest Jay, Wally Patch, Graham Soutten, Brian Buchel, Judy Kelly, Ruth Amber
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Overhearing a group of stuffy gentleman dismissing romance as sugary nonsense, young Englishman abroad Michael (Ernest Jay) sets out to prove his belief that the spirit of romance thrives even amidst the most sordid surroundings. He arrives in Tiger Bay, a lively, multiracial yet seemingly forever squabbling sector where glamorous nightclub proprietress Lui Chang (Anna May Wong) is struggling to protect her English foster sister Letty (René Ray) from the lascivious attentions of surly sailor Olaf (Henry Victor). Michael comes to their aid, but gets a knife in his shoulder for his trouble. As Michael recuperates, he and Letty fall in love while Lui Chang is targeted as part of a protection racket run by Olaf and his thugs.

Not to be confused with the 1959 Hayley Mills drama of the same name, Tiger Bay is a starchy but intriguing melodrama notable largely for the striking presence of early Asian-American film icon Anna May Wong and an editing credit for the young David Lean. Wong made her mark in silent cinema with a number of scene-stealing supporting roles, but American anti-miscegenation laws prevented her from landing the leading roles she deserved. Nevertheless she became a major star and fashion icon across Europe, appearing in German operas and on the British stage before creating a sensation with Piccadilly (1929), the first of five English films where she played the lead. Returning to Hollywood, Wong made a splash opposite Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express (1932), but the combination of studio racism and harsh criticism from the conservative Chinese government consigned her to B movies and stereotypical “dragon lady” or self-sacrificing “butterfly” roles. Tiger Bay shunts Wong towards the latter but she outshines everyone else in the film with a performance of quiet grace, dignity and complexity, including a daring quasi-lesbian relationship with Letty. Although some consider Wong a gay icon, there is no evidence to confirm her rumoured relationships with Leni Riefenstahl were anything other than platonic, although she supposedly had a scandalous affair with Dracula director Tod Browning whilst underage.

The rest of the cast, particularly Margaret Yarde as twittering barmaid Fay, overplay their roles in the manner of many British potboilers, to the point where it becomes uncertain whether the film is a parody. Scenes shuffle between drama and farce, making time for the antics of a comedy parrot while reams of mindless chatter between supporting players do little to advance the plot. While appealingly idealistic, sappy lovers Michael and Letty exist purely to be kidnapped and abused and the plot seemingly sets out to disprove Michael’s romantic notions and rub his nose in the squalid realities of life. A late twist reveals Whistling Rufus, a shabbily dressed character glimpsed hanging out with the neighbourhood kids, is really an undercover policeman spying on Olaf and his cronies. And yet he proves completely useless, sitting back so Michael can subdue Olaf’s thugs before Lui Chang finally ends their villainy, although the strict moral censorship of the time requires this poor, long suffering, selfless woman pays a heavy price. The film moves briskly thanks to Lean’s editorial flair and the art direction by director J. Elder Wills is nicely evocative.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 2559 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: