20th Century Fox

94 min     6.3     1942     USA


After a drunken night out a longshoreman thinks he may have killed a man.


John Chard wrote:
Sunnyside Up and Red Dot. Moontide is directed by Archie Mayo and adapted to screenplay by John O'Hara from the novel written by Willard Robertson. Its stars Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell and Claude Rains. Music is by David Buttolph and Cyril J. Mockridge, with cinematography by Charles G. Clarke. Sometimes weird, sometimes wonderful, but also wasteful, Moontide is a choppy experience. Hindered by production code strong arming and Fritz Lang and Lucien Ballard leaving the initial production, there's an over whelming feeling of what might have been. Story finds Gabin as Bobo, a salty sailor type living and working at the quayside, he likes a drink and after one particularly boozy night he wakes to think he may have killed somebody. Inconvenient since a troubled lady he helped has started to impact greatly on his life. Pilot Fish Pondering. Story is absorbing by way of the characters, around Bobo is Tiny (Mitchell), who is a leech by way of having a hold over Bobo. Then there's Nutsy (Rains), who not as his name suggests, is something of an intellectual, while Anna (Lupino) has attempted suicide and on whose appearance sets in motion a chain of dramatic events. All characters operate in and around the waterside, rubbing shoulders with various unseemly types, and it's this setting, with the tech craft on show, that grips from the get go. Most scenes are filtered through film noir lenses, with mists constant, dim lights prominent, and the glistening of the water belies the darker edges in the play. A drunken hallucinogenic dream is Dali in effect, which is one of a number of strange scenes throughout, of which is where we find the bizarre sight of Tiny whipping Nutsy in the shower! Certain touchy things are inferred delicately, and conversations are never less than attention holding. If only the plot wasn't so erratic, with so many infuriatingly dangled carrots, then we could have had a higher end proto noir to savour. Splendidly performed, though, with Mitchell and Lupino not playing to their usual types, and the visuals a real treat for the so inclined of noirish persuasion (Clarke was Oscar Nominated for his work), giving us just enough to have a good time with. Still can't help hankering for Lang and Ballard though... 6.5/10