A Brooklyn pier racketeer bullies boat-owners into paying protection money but two fed-up fishermen decide to eliminate the gangster themselves rather than complain to the police.
Out of the fog and into the briny. Out of the Fog is directed by Anatole Litvak and collectively adapted to screenplay by Robert Macaulay, Robert Rosen and Jerry Wald from the play The Gentle People written by Irwin Shaw. It stars John Garfield, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, John Qualen and Eddie Albert. Music is by Heinz Roemheld and cinematography by James Wong Howe. The Brooklyn wharf-side is the setting for this melodrama tinted with noirish themes and players. The area is Sheepshead Bay and the local citizens are a gathering of people stuck in a rut they seem incapable of getting out of. Old gentlemen dreamers planning to buy a big boat and sail off to sunnier climes, the local lovely who's in a dull relationship with a dullard – who craves for something more spicy. Other patrons of Sheepshead just while away the hours playing cards in the local restaurant - that's the peak of their excitement, and others are just slaves to the grindstone. Then there's Jacob Goff (Garfield), a chiseller and racketeer, a man who stomps around the wharf like the cock of the hen-house, gathering protection money or casually setting fire to the boats of anyone who dares not to pay their dues… There's a wonderfully atmospheric feel to Out of the Fog, due to the claustrophobic setting of the story and Wong Howe's moody photography. Characterisations are enhanced by some well versed scripting that puts lyrical dialogue into the mouths of the principal players. Goff is the archetypal charming rogue, with a killer smile and sexy danger oozing from his pores, it's no wonder that frustrated Stella Goodwin (Lupino) spies an opportunity to escape her humdrum existence. Hell! Goff even does card tricks. But of course he is a sort of devil in disguise, or fascism in disguise as it happens, and as he tips the lives upside down of the Sheepshead residents, it brings threats and violence to this once quiet little waterfront. 1941 was a key year for film noir, with the likes of The Maltese Falcon and I Wake Up Screaming lighting the touch paper of a film making style that would burn brightly for the next 20 years. Out of the Fog has made its may into some noir publications, which is understandable given the essence of the story and the presence of noir legends Lupino and Garfield, but it's not what I would call essential film noir by some margin. However, it's a comfortable recommendation to like minded noirphiles regardless. 7/10