Man-Eater of Kumaon


1h 19m 1948

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1948
Premiere Information
New York and San Francisco openings: 1 Jul 1948
Production Company
Monty Shaff Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett (London and New York, 1945).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m

Synopsis

In the Kumaon jungle of northern India, American doctor John Collins hunts tigers, attempting to erase painful memories wrought by his wife's recent decision to leave him and take their child. Feeling ill, he shoots at a tiger but manages only to injure its paw. When his bearer warns him that they must find and kill the tiger or it will wreak havoc, Collins ignores his pleas and instead returns to the district hospital, where an Indian doctor diagnoses him with malaria. Over the next days, the tiger, unable to stalk his animal prey with a wounded paw, struggles to survive, while Collins tries to heal both physically and psychologically. The Indian doctor tells Collins that the tiger is killing villagers, but Collins does not care, and when he leaves town days later he does not realize that the tiger is following him. At an abandoned village, he finds a starving boy named Panwah, who informs him that the tiger killed most of his fellow villagers. Out of duty, Collins prepares to take Panwah to the nearest village, Champawat. There, village leader Ganga Ram teases his son, Narain, for pampering his beloved, pregnant wife Lali. When Collins arrives, Ganga Ram agrees to take Panwah, even though he fears that the tiger will follow the boy into their village. Lali takes the boy into her care, and Collins leaves, but when the tiger attacks Lali a few days later, Narain runs for days to find Collins and brings him back. After a dangerous surgical procedure, Lali recovers but loses her baby. The next day, Collins tracks the killer tiger and, when he sees a four-clawed paw print, realizes it is the tiger he wounded. Even though the community considers him guilty of the killings and has no way to protect itself, he does not want to stay to hunt the tiger. When Ganga Ram tells him they will therefore have to kill the animal themselves, and that Collins cannot be blamed for his actions because they are fated, Collins remembers his wife accusing him of selfishness. He then informs Ganga Ram that Lali will never be able to have children, and learns that she must leave so that Narain can re-marry and have a son who can read the prayers for him when he dies. Collins, horrified, decides to stay in the village and hunt the tiger, which also begins to hunt him, leaving prints by his cottage door. The villagers set traps for the tiger, which do not work, and more people are killed. During the ordeal, Lali continues to insist that she must leave while Narain begs her to stay, prompting Collins to ponder the couple's self-sacrificing love. Meanwhile, the village men demand that Ganga Ram move them to another village. As Lali prepares to go, Collins visits the couple and tells them that until that moment, he had never known any of his patients as people, and adds that success is meaningless if you are alone. When Narain insists that he will never remarry, Lali fears that he will destroy his life for her, so when she hears the tiger outside, she tells Panwah to inform Collins that she has gone to the river to provide human bait. Collins runs to the river in time to save Lali, and when the tiger attacks him, he kills it. Fatally wounded, Collins dies smiling. The villagers are so grateful to Lali that they demand that she stay Narain's wife, with Panwah as their required son.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1948
Premiere Information
New York and San Francisco openings: 1 Jul 1948
Production Company
Monty Shaff Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett (London and New York, 1945).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The credits include a written prologue by author Jim Corbett explaining that tigers will only eat men if they are injured or infirm. Although the end credits list Wendell Corey before Joanne Page, and specify his character name as "Dr. John Collins," the opening credits list him below Page as "The Hunter." Although early news items in Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Examiner reported that the film was to be shot in India, and a September 1946 Hollywood Reporter article stated that producer Monty Shaff met with Jagadash Natarajan, India's information head, no sources confirm that any location shooting took place. The San Francisco premiere took place aboard the Pan-American Cipper Carthay, a cruise ship that left for Calcutta on June 29, 1948.