Cast & Crew
John H. Auer
Jeff Shannon, ace television news commentator for the Continental Broadcasting Co. of New York City, is asked by his former boss, newspaper editor Mike Halloran, to aid honest mayoral candidate James Ross. Ross is running against the corrupt Clifford Farrow, who is controlled by political boss Melvin Sutter, and does not have a chance of winning unless influential people back him. Jeff refuses to use his broadcasts for political purposes, even though his best friend, radio ventriloquist Uncle Dan Carter, supports Ross. That night, Jeff and his wife Laurel host a party for their son Buddy's sixth birthday. Jeff's cameraman Peaches Jackson, Peaches' sweetheart Mabel and Uncle Dan attend, but the festivities are ruined when Uncle Dan receives a death threat ordering him to stop his investigation of Farrow. The threat revives Jeff's crusading instincts and he joins the fight against Farrow. The next day, Jeff, Peaches and Uncle Dan gather information about Farrow's shady past and business dealings, and Jeff announces that he will broadcast the information. Just before the broadcast, Sutter comes to Jeff's office and makes it clear that if Jeff says anything about Farrow, Laurel and Buddy will be killed. Jeff realizes he cannot take the risk and goes on with his normal broadcast. Worried about his friends' and family's safety, Jeff does not tell them the reason behind his actions and they express their disappointment in him. Later, Dan receives the final evidence he needs against Farrow and announces he will reveal it in conjunction with Mike's paper, the News-Tribune . The newspaper building is bombed and even though the perpetrator, Curly Parsons, is apprehended, he is freed by one of Sutter's lawyers and murdered by Sutter when it appears that he will reveal Sutter's involvement. Laurel and Jeff fight about his desertion of Ross's cause and he leaves her. Meanwhile, Sutter tries to bribe Dan to keep silent and when Dan refuses, Sutter arranges to have a truck sideswipe Dan's car. Laurel and Buddy are also in the car and Buddy is seriously injured. Dan is killed in the accident, and as Buddy slowly recovers, the boy is overwhelmed with grief that his friend is gone. Jeff shows Buddy one of Dan's rehearsal films to cheer him up and they discover that Dan filmed himself reading evidence proving that Farrow is a murderer who bribed a jury to set him free. On election day, Jeff shows the footage on his broadcast in an effort to turn the tide toward Ross, but Sutter tries to divert attention from it by broadcasting an old horror movie about a giant tidal wave rushing to and engulfing New York. Thinking the tidal wave film is a real news story, the voters are thrown into a panic and chaos reigns in the streets. Jeff discovers the ploy and stops the broadcast, but when Sutter tries to escape he is run over by a panicking truck driver. Jeff forces Farrow to admit the hoax on the air and Ross wins the election. Soon all is well as Ross promises to clean up the city, Buddy recovers and Peaches finally asks Mabel to marry him.
John H. Auer
John Victor Mackay
The picture's working title was Tidal Wave. Hollywood Reporter news items state that William Lively and James Webb were each assigned to write a script for the title Tidal Wave. Lively's contributions to S.O.S.-Tidal Wave, however, have not been determined. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Fred Stone was signed to play the role of "Uncle Dan Carter," but he quit the picture, apparently after deciding that he needed more time to prepare the role before filming. The Hollywood Reporter review favorably compared the film to Orson Welles' radio broadcast on October 31, 1938 of The War of the Worlds, noting that "Process work, picturing the waterfront, then the entire city of New York, collapsing under the pummeling of a surging tidal wave, is amazingly vital drama which will catch the major portion of the audience as unprepared as Welles' air-reign of terror."