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After a drunken binge on the San Pablo waterfront, longshoreman Bobo fears he may have killed a man. In his uncertainty, he takes a job on an isolated bait barge. That night, he rescues lovely Anna from a watery suicide attempt and installs her on the barge. But Tiny, Bobo's longtime pal and parasite, hopes to drive Anna away before domestic bliss tears Bobo away from him; the still unsolved murder may be just the wedge Tiny needs. There's fog on the water and evil brewing... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
a decent noir with a few really nice touches, such as the main stars
Jean Gabin didn't star in many American films, and Moontide was the only one I could find from my local library. Maybe it was for the best; his presence on screen is very (and I mean this as a compliment) French in tone and inflection and even in style of speak. In English he fares reasonably well, and gives a solid performance as the "gypsy turned peasant" Bobo who saddles up with ex-suicide-attemptee Ida Lupino on a tiny bay community. This being said it's a kind of character that works for Gabin's limitations in the language. Because Bobo is a Gypsy it works that Gabin's English is only so fluent and has the kind of facial expressions that reflect that (as opposed to say Grand Illusion where he was so natural that it was staggering). Lupino, thankfully, is a great match, and the two have some very nice scenes together as a married couple who face trouble when one of Bobo's prior troubles comes back to haunt him, even as it wasn't his fault.
The direction is competent and the writing has some moments of cleverness or tenderness or even insight. And as the drama ratchets up one gets involved if only on a perfunctory, conventional level. But the director Archie Mayo (replacing, of all directors, Fritz Lang) some moments that really stand out for me. One that I might never forget, and should stand up among some of the quintessential early 40s noir films, is when Bobo has his drunken binge the first night at port and after causing a ruckus in the bar with punching out the guy and making the girl upset goes from bar to bar. In a montage that provides a drunken angle to the camera and editing tricks, we see Bobo going further and further, hearing characters repeat things like "drink, drink" or whatever and it is purely intoxicating to see this. It's the kind of sequence, which lasts a good long 5 minutes, that almost promises this to be a great film.
It isn't, but it was worth a shot, and for those who are curious or just big Gabin or Lupino (or Claude Rains) fans, it's worth a shot.
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