The Tiger (Tod Slaughter) is a vicious killer. His favorite weapon is the garrote. Detective Hawkshaw (Robert Adair) vows to hunt him down but no one knows what he looks like. The Tiger is in love with May Edwards (Marjorie Taylor) a young woman who sings at the local garden restaurant. May is engaged to Robert Brierly (John Warwick). Robert works at a bank and has just gotten a promotion and a raise. He believes they can now get married since his position is secure. He plans on celebrating with May by having champagne. May is scheduled to go on and sing another song so he waits until she is done to order.
In the meantime The Tiger has heard everything and has an idea to upset Robert’s plans. Using a little sleight of hand he switches Robert’s new bank notes with counterfeit ones. Then he has his partner Melter Moss (Frank Cochran) tell Hawkshaw that Robert has phony money. Robert gets arrested and put in jail.
Tiger then begins a scam as a man who helps the poor from the “Good Samaritan Help Society”, in order to be near May. When Robert gets paroled Tiger needs to come up with something to get rid of Robert once and for all. With May’s help Robert gets a job at the bank of Joshua Gibson (Peter Gawthorne). First the Tiger tries to blackmail Robert. When that doesn’t work he tells Robert’s boss who he really is and accuses him of planning to rob the bank. Robert gets fired. Wherever Robert goes to get a job Tiger sends Moss around to tell his bosses that he is a Ticket of Leave Man. After losing four jobs Robert is at wits end but Tiger is not done with him yet.
“The Ticket Of Leave Man” was released in 1937 and was directed by George King. It is a British thriller based on the 1863 stage melodrama by Tom Taylor. The film is not as obscure as you would think. Since it is in the public domain, you’ll find it in just about every Mill Creek combo pack out there. The film is supposed to be about seventy minutes long so it may be in a shortened version.
The movie is not exactly great. Unless you are a Tod Slaughter fan. He can be a bit of an acquired taste. When he’s not hamming it up, well…, he’s always hamming it up. As you can guess I’m not much of a fan. Even if I was I wasn’t impressed by the film. It’s not horrible but it’s not a horror movie or much of a thriller either.
If you are a Tod Slaughter fan then you’ll get a lot more out of it than I did. Tod is front and center as the infamous Tiger. Most of his killings are done off screen but you do get to hear his maniacal laugh more than once. And Robert Adair as Hawkshaw the detective is just as over the top as Slaughter. When the two of them are on screen together it’s ham on ham on rye.
‘A ticket of leave’ was a document issued to convicts who had shown they could now be trusted with some freedoms. Originally the ticket was issued in Britain and later adapted by other countries including the United States and Canada. It was sort of an early form of parole. The term is now quite dated.