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 ...
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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>
Director Fritz Lang was replaced by Archie Mayo as director of the 1942 "Moontide," and one wonders if the film would have been any better with Lang at the helm. With a script by John O'Hara, it's all dry ice, cheap sets, night shots and little action. The great French film star, perhaps the greatest, Jean Gabin, plays Bobo, a dockworker who enjoys being a free spirit. He suffers from blackouts when he's drunk, which is used to advantage by a so-called friend of his, Tiny (Thomas Mitchell), who gets money out of Bobo by hinting that he strangled a man in another town. When a waitress (Ida Lupiho) is rescued from the ocean after trying to commit suicide, Bobo covers for her so she won't be arrested. Eventually they fall in love. This doesn't fit in with the threatening Tiny's plans, as he wants Bobo to seek work elsewhere.
The movie drags along, and it's easy to see the cheapness of the production throughout. It has a certain atmosphere, but it grows tired.
It's a shame that Hollywood had no clue what to do with Jean Gabin, but seeing "Moontide," it's easy to figure out why. With his thick build, weathered face, unruly hair and large nose, he wasn't the leading man material Hollywood was used to, and he was too much a star to be a character actor. Few actors possessed his raw sexuality and charisma, seen much more clearly in Pepe LeMoko and as his signature role, Maigret. It's not for nothing that Marlene Dietrich chased him all across Europe during World War II. He only stayed in Hollywood until 1943 and worked in France as a national institution until his death in 1976. Lupino is very young, frail and pretty here and does a good job. Claude Rains as Nutsy, Bobo's friend, is good but wasted. Thomas Mitchell has the best role among the supporting players. It's a departure from his usual thick nice guys.
If you're interested in Gabin, you'll want to see this. Otherwise, skip it.
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