The offbeat drama The Sharkfighters
(1956) forsakes military combat for risky science, as a Naval research team seeks an effective shark repellent in the field, testing with real sharks. Star Victor Mature's Lt. Commander Staves has an emotional stake in the project, having been personally menaced by sharks after a crash at sea. As the non-scientist Navy team leader, Staves rejects the scientific method to instead try out several ideas at once. Promising anti-shark concoctions must eventually be tested with human volunteers, and lives are put in jeopardy when Staves prematurely claims success. He eventually decides that he must personally serve as experimental shark bait. The tale of man vs. man-eater remains focused on the politics of scientific research. Actor James Olson (The Andromeda Strain
, 1971) makes his screen debut as a young chemist. Beautiful Karen Steele is Staves' patient wife back home. After a featured role in the hit Marty
she graced a number of male-oriented films, including three westerns by director Budd Boetticher. Young producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. chose Cuba's Isle of Pines for his location, which makes the picture a CinemaScope and Technicolor record of Havana before the Castro revolution. Composer Jerome Moross's music score adds a bit of Latin glamour. United Artists' publicity noted the fact that star Victor Mature had served in the Coast Guard back in the war. Asked what he knew about sharks, the actor answered, "They've got lousy table manners."
by Glenn Erickson
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