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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of two American made films that Jean Gabin did in Hollywood while in exile from his beloved France is this item Moontide. It's not anywhere in the class of The Grand Illusion, Pepe LeMoko, or La Bete Humaine in fact it goes over into melodrama. Still it's a good showcase for his talent and appeal.
Gabin is a happy go lucky sailor who is beached with his pal Thomas Mitchell in the small coast town of San Pablo in California. He's a nasty drunk however who can be provoked to violence and has been. Another waterfront denizen Arthur Aylesworth is killed and Gabin is tormented by the fact that he was on one big bender the night of the homicide and it could be him.
But that doesn't stop him from saving the life of Ida Lupino who tries to drown herself because of her own relationship problems. These two fall for each other and they plan to settle in San Pablo and marry. And of course there's no room for Mitchell in the new setup.
Which doesn't please Mitchell at all. He's basically a leech who's attached himself to Gabin and he doesn't want to give up his meal ticket. Claude Rains who is a droll waterfront philosopher calls him a pilot fish which is a fish that hangs around sharks and lives off the scraps they leave. Time for Mitchell to find another shark.
Given that this is the Code era and that a major studio 20th Century Fox produced Moontide the rather obvious homosexual attachment of Mitchell to Gabin is hard to miss. Perhaps that is something that the original director Fritz Lang might have explored a bit more. In fact the film could have been a classic had Lang stayed with it.
Still the cast acquit themselves well in Moontide and a film with Jean Gabin is always something special.
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