Much of the success of the film [from the 1940 bestseller by Willard Robertson] may hinge on reaction to Jean Gabin. He’s a pleasing and able player, but fails to project warmth and personal feeling.
Gabin, known as an earthy player in France, is given just that type of role in Moontide. He’s an itinerant dock-worker who for years hasn’t had a home and is chiefly interested in getting drunk. Until, that is, he rescues from the surf a hash-house waitress (Ida Lupino) intent on killing herself.
Moontide is a series of incidents, although the overall impression is of a single important event in a man’s life. Despite the speed with which director Archie Mayo paints each incident, the total effect is one of slowness and lacking suspense. Mayo’s artistic direction is too even-paced to provide the occasional kick that any story requires.
1942: Nomination: Best B&W Cinematography