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  • I was barely out of my teens when I visited the set to see my father, Glenn Kirkpatrick, who was camera assistant, and his friend, Charlie O'Rork (camera operator). They had shot one of producer John Hugh's earlier films, "Yellowneck".

    I was looking for the working title, "The Cry of the Laughing Owls", then remembered it was released as "Johnny Tiger".

    I remember being impressed with the power of the very presence of Robert Taylor. I saw a scene where Gereldine Brooks finished a scene with Taylor in bed (both were fully clothed) and was struck by the intimacy of that simple scene.

    I though that Tay Garnet started directing the film and was replaced by Paul Wendkos, but that was a long time ago. I distinctly remember Wendkos getting very upset by the frequent clouds that passed in front of the sun, which would change the lighting in the midst of filming. He began exclaiming "FLORIDA!" as if it were spelled with four letters.

    I remember the director ordered the set crew to "age" the beautiful little schoolhouse exterior to look broken down. He wanted the actors to develop and internalize the changes that take place in Johnny Tiger and the community.

    Probably the most memorable moments off screen were those created by Chad Everett, who, in full Indian make up and attire ate his lunch off a buck knife. Little boys, who were dressed as little Seminole Indians, sat awe-struck at his feet.

    Unfortunately I've never seen the final film.
  • Johnny Tiger was a film that Robert Taylor hoped would help him transition to older more mature roles. He's a man of academia who's taken a position on a Seminole Indian reservation in Florida. While there, he encounters the charming and reckless title character played by Chad Everett.

    Everett is the grandson of the old chief Sam Tiger played by Ford Rainey. The grandson and grandfather are estranged as Everett has been too long living in the white man's world and won't assume his rightful place in the tribal councils.

    In a plot gambit obviously taken from The Corn Is Green, Taylor recognizes Everett as a most intelligent young man. Not quite Will Hunting type smart, nevertheless Everett has the potential for bigger and better things.

    Taylor feels it's those backward Indian ways holding him back. Education and literacy are the answer and he develops a messianic fervor on the subject. Taylor would be described today as a secular humanist, but he does learn the wisdom of Hamlet's words to Horatio about there being more things on heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy.

    If Johnny Tiger was made today, it would be a natural project for Lou Diamond Phillips with his partially Cherokee heritage no one would object to the casting. You could never get away with casting Ford Rainey and Marc Lawrence who plays the Seminole medicine man in Indian roles today. Still they are not bad in them and those players, Everett included, do not insult or demean the people they portray.

    Probably this film should have made its debut on television. I remember it being released back in the day as the second half of a double bill with a Munster film. Not exactly an opportunity to showcase the players, including most importantly Robert Taylor.

    Geraldine Brooks plays the government doctor on the reservation and she's a most fetching female who tries very hard to humanize Taylor and derail him from his mission which is essentially to destroy what little is left of the Seminole culture. Brenda Scott is Taylor's daughter who gets involved with Everett, further complicating things.

    Johnny Tiger is not a bad film, it was never really given a chance to find its audience back in the day.

    Though I do wonder about where Seminole Indians would have heard of tigers from the real India.
  • My sister and I saw this movie when we were in our teens. We were simply in awe of Chad Everett and watched it over and over. We have looked high and low trying to find a copy of it on tape or dvd and it is simply not for sale any more. We found it to be funny, serious and thought provoking all at the same time. We would love to find a copy for our home viewing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Johnny Tiger is a surprisingly good film. This is a new Robert Taylor, a serious actor, older and wiser. His character is a teacher on an Indian reservation who finds that the Chiefs grandson has a intelligence that had not been tapped yet. He pursues Chad Everett to be the first of his race to become highly educated, and possibly bring that education back to the children. There are various character insights where the old chief butts heads with Taylor, telling him that Johnny's place is with his people. Taylor won't give up, and alienates his own daughter because of his obsession with this boy. Geraldine Brooks plays the doctor, who wants to bring out the real man in Taylor and not just the teacher. He is all tied up emotionally, and she tells him so, but he just doesn't get it. Finally, after his daughter leaves and marries Johnny, and his young son is lost in a fire, only to be rescued by the old chief, does he begin to open up to his own feelings. This is basically a character study movie and Taylor does a great job as the teacher. This is the film he thought would bring change to his career, allowing him to play more serious roles, but the studio didn't promote this film. It is a shame because it is one of Taylors best.
  • susanneharp21 July 2006
    They filmed Johnny Tiger in Longwood Florida when I was about 13, or 14. They shot some scenes in the Longwood Hotel, that was behind my house, and also DownTown and behind the Railroad tracks at the Train Depot.. My family became friends with some of the actors, and they asked if I would consider playing a young Indian Girl who was suppose to be drowning and Robert Taylor was going to rescue me! Was I ever excited. They dug a trench behind the Depot and filled it with water. Anyway, it was fun! I don't know if they cut the scene or not, as I never saw the movie, but that was the thrill of my young life!Plus, we got to meet all the actors!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I haven't seen this movie in years, but it used to be on TV a lot when I was a kid. I saw it at least two or three times and really loved it.I never knew that others had seen it and liked it when they were younger, too. I remember some scenes fairly vividly, including the tribal medicine man diagnosing the little girl's doll, Robert Taylor telling a snake to get out of the schoolroom, the oldest daughter waiting at the bus station to run away, and Johnny finding her and taking her home with him, Robert Taylor expressing his gratitude when the old Chief rescues Taylor's children from a fire.

    I've never forgotten this movie. It was a really powerful adult drama to me at the age of thirteen or fourteen.

    Any chance of this movie ending up available for home purchase?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    George Dean (Robert Taylor) is an angry and defeated man. He has been fired from his job as a college professor and is forced to take a job as a teacher of Seminole Indian children on an Everglades reservation. He is broke and angry when he arrives at his reservation with his three children.

    At the same time, Chief Sam Tiger (Ford Rainey) of the local Seminole tribe is dying. He has seen his death coming soon and is desperate to get his grandson, Johnny Tiger (Chad Everett), to replace him. His son, Johnny's father, left the tribe and died of alcoholism in the white world.

    Johnny himself is living in two worlds. A self-proclaimed half-breed, he is a hard partying man who seems to be on course to follow his father's fate. As the movie progresses, Johnny becomes a pawn in the battle between the school teacher and his grandfather. Dean wants Johnny to go to college on a scholarship—the first of his tribe to do so. He isn't entirely selfless about this. He thinks Johnny is a good subject for publishing a book that would bring him recognition in the academic world. Chief Sam, however, is equally desperate for Johnny to abandon the white man's world and settle down to running the tribe.

    In the meantime, there are two romantic relationships going on. Johnny is attracted to George's daughter, Barbara (Brenda Scott) and the local doctor (Geraldine Brooks) falls for George.

    In a dramatic twist, Randy, George's youngest child (Steven Wheeler) is trapped in a forest fire. His frantic father plows around in the woods looking for him but it is Sam who decides his fate.

    The premise of this film is interesting—extremists of very different points of view thrown against one another with no hope of compromise. The endless battle between old and new raging on in an unusual setting.

    Ford Rainey and Marc Lawrence are excellent as the tribal chief and medicine man. Chad Everett is muscular and energetic as Johnny. Geraldine Brooks is intelligent and sultry as the doctor. Brenda Scott is innocent and lovely as George's eldest daughter. The editing has a number of highlights; George is contemptuous of the tribe as "savages." As he says the word, the film cuts to a group of 1960s young people gyrating to rock music.

    The women in Johnny Tiger aren't treated well. George seems completely uninterested in Barbara except for helping him get close to Johnny. He doesn't protect her early in the film when Johnny is frightening her with his horse and blatantly uses her later to win Johnny over. Johnny also has a slutty girlfriend. The wonderful Geraldine Brooks waggles her butt at the camera when she is first seen. Later she asks George to hand her the bottoms of her pajamas.

    Nonetheless, the interplay between George and the doctor is good. There is a wonderful scene where she grabs George and throws him down on the bed, kissing him enthusiastically. When they surface he splutters and acts indignant. She concludes that he has no feelings. By the end of the film she has decided that he "shows promise."

    The problem is the usually wonderful Robert Taylor. Still handsome in his mid fifties, Taylor just isn't convincing as a pompous, arrogant, defeated twit. George is totally self-centered and completely oblivious to the needs of others. Robert Taylor's persona has almost always been larger than life. He is believable as a dedicated doctor, a strong and handsome lover, a soldier, a Roman commander, a knight, a tough cop, a gangster. We believe him when he's saving lives, fighting off armies, taking on Nero, rescuing maidens, taming the West, saving herds of horses and so on. Taylor is not believable as a wimp. In one scene he is called upon to cry and does so unconvincingly. Men of his day did not cry. It is also hard to believe he would be so passive in his interactions with the sexy doctor.

    This is not to say that he doesn't have good scenes. His anger against Sam Tiger is convincing, especially when they're head to head. George's belief that the "only purity in this world is knowledge" rings true.

    Robert Taylor wanted "Johnny Tiger" to be the beginning of his transition into character roles. He was tired of being the "beautiful lover," as Ava Gardner put it. He told an interviewer that his days in the boudoir were over and then hastily corrected himself--"on film." However, Universal Studios abandoned this picture, not promoting it at all and eventually reducing it to second billing to "The Munsters."