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Sgt Schiller (George J.Lewis) has developed the Gyro-compass, which
would enable planes to fly blind & stay on course ... which is of
course essential for trans-Atlantic flights. But when he tests the
compass, his plane suddenly disappears near Halfway Island, a tropical
island amid the Atlantic, where colonel Bennett (Robert Warwick) plans to
build a landing strip - back then also essential for trans-Atlantic
flights. Curiously enough though, Schiller's sister
Frances (Ann Rutherford) finds the gyro compass in Douglas' (Robert
Frazer) office, & he is a businessmen who might lose money should a
landing strip be built on Halfway Island.
And what nobody knows, a criminal named the Tiger
Shark, has put up a mining & smuggling operation on Halfway Island,
& he has a deathray to shoot down planes.
Thing is, nobody knows where or who the Tiger Shark is, not even his men,
because he always appears masked.
Soon, marines Lawrence (Grant Withers) & Mack (Adrian Morris)
embark on a mission to Halfway Island, but their plane is shot down by the
mysterious death ray & they scarcely survive the attack. Somehow
though, they can not only find out quite a bit about the Tiger Shark's
operations on Halfway Island, but also make an escape back home ... but
withthe Tiger Shark's men hot on their trail., & they try to get them
at pretty much every corner.
Still, Lawrence & Mack can eventually take a battallion of marines
to Halfway Island, & even if the Tiger Shark's men try to attack them
with all they have got, in the end, the Marines can defeat & either
kill or capture all of his men. Only the Tiger Shark, who has paid the
island a surprise visit, can again escape.
Back in the USA, Lawrence, Mack & Colonel Bennett soon come to the
conclusion that the Tiger Shark must be shady businessman Buchanan (Frank
Glendon), which he not only denies, he also sheds serious suspicion onto
above mentioned Douglas ... But before anything substantial can be found
out, the Tiger Shark's men, thinking Buchanan to be the Tiger
Shark, break him free from teh Marine's headquarters - only to during
their getaway, chased of course by Mack & Lawrence, find out that
Buchanan is not the Tiger Shark after all - & so they toss him
out of their speeding car.
Back at the base, Buchanan tells the Mrines he knows now who the Tiger
Shark really is ... but is shot before he can reveal the actual name, shot
by the Tiger Shark himself, who then takes off to Halfway Island. Mack
& Lawrence go after him, & even had enough foresight to bring
parachutes in case they are shot down by the Tiger Shark's death ray -
which they are of course.
On the ground, the Tiger Shark plans to use the natives against the 2
Marines, & he himself tries to make a getawy with all his fortunes
& the last of his henchmen (who was disguised as a native), however,
soon the Marines corner him in his cave, & only withthe greatest of
efforts can he & his henchman overcome them, but only after they have
torn off his mask & found him to be Kota (Jason Robards sr), colonel
Bennett's own servant. With the marines knocked out though, Kota the Tiger
Shark & his man get into a fight over the loot ... which ends with
Kota shooting his adversary dead, but not before he can make sure the
nitro glycerin right behind Kota blows up ... boom. Now that was the last
of the Tiger Shark. & our heroes, Mack & Lawrence, of course get
Of course, on one hand this film is an unreflected glorification of the
American Marine Corps, which any liberal thinker cannot condone. On the
other hand though, Fighting Marines though is a slick & fast-moving
action serial, that simply cuts from one fistfight or chase to the next,
with Grant Withers & Adrain Morris as likeable protagonists, some
fancy tropical settings, some action in the air, some science fiction
devices (most notably the death ray), & a genuine love for the story's
pulp origins. & one cannot say much nicer things about a serial, by
the way Mascot's last ever.