×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Moontide

It's hard to imagine how 20th Century Fox topper Darryl F. Zanuck expected 1942's "Moontide" to transform the great Gallic thesp Jean Gabin into an American movie star.

With:
Cast: Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains

It’s hard to imagine how 20th Century Fox topper Darryl F. Zanuck expected 1942’s “Moontide” to transform the great Gallic thesp Jean Gabin into an American movie star. A twisted romance set among waterfront lowlifes, the b&w pic resonated with neither critics nor auds, though as this DVD debut makes clear, there seems every reason to hope cineastes may now embrace it for what is always was: a keenly observed, highly atmospheric film distinguished by several superb performances and a captivating, if quotidian, mise-en-scene. Solid extras like a full commentary track and meaty “making-of” featurette should only help raise its standing.

Based on a salacious 1940 novel by thesp Willard Robertson as scripted by literary highbrow John O’Hara, pic follows unlikely romance between rough vagabond stevedore Bobo (Gabin) and San Pedro hash-house waitress Anna (Ida Lupino in unusually vulnerable mode), a would-be suicide he saves from drowning. Material may be tame by today’s standards, but anyone familiar with the production code and its strict enforcement will marvel at how Zanuck and company ever got it made. Bonus features imply they barely did.

Though much must be inferred (prostitution, casual sex, violent tendencies), some elements remain eyebrow raisers even now, most especially the strange homoerotic relationship between Bobo and his psychopathically possessive friend Tiny (Thomas Mitchell, brilliantly cast against type), who ultimately assaults Anna in an attempt to keep Bobo for himself. Also notable is Claude Rains’ unexpected turn as a dog-eared wharf philosopher.

“Moontide’s” virtues extend beyond storyline and acting to tone and mood. For that, Fritz Lang deserves some credit, as studio records reveal he shot three weeks of footage before Archie Mayo ascended as helmer. Salvador Dali hovers as well, having sketched the alcohol-fueled blackout scene that haunts Bobo.

But kudos for the pic’s fog-shrouded, noir-lit nautical setting really belong to lenser Charles Clarke (who netted an Oscar nom for his work) and art directors Richard Day and James Basevi, both legends in their field. Though obviously soundstage bound, the pic smells of salt spray.

Extras here add much, providing context for fully appreciating the film. But though the featurette “Turning of the Tide: The Ill-Starred Making of ‘Moontide'” is one of Fox’s best — insightful comments and useful information balance out the occasional vapidity — the commentary track is more problematic.

Prepared and narrated by the worthy Foster Hirsch, it suffers from his stubborn refusal to let the pic breathe. He fills practically the entire run time with overdub, resulting in needless repetition and annoying padding. That said, Hirsch has certainly done his homework, and the best of the information he imparts enriches our appreciation of a film that seems poised for increased regard.

Moontide

$14.98; Release date: Sept. 2, 2008

Production: Fox Film Noir.

Crew: Running time: 94 min.

Cast: Cast: Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains

More Digital

  • Evan Williams, Twitter founder (R) and

    Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Steps Down From Company’s Board

    Twitter co-founder Evan “Ev” Williams is stepping down from the company’s board, Twitter announced in a SEC filing Friday afternoon. Williams will depart from the board at the end of this month, according to the filing. “It’s been an incredible 13 years, and I’m proud of what Twitter has accomplished during my time with the [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Shuts Down Controversial Ovano VPN App

    Responding to a continued backlash over its data collection practices, Facebook pulled the plug on its Ovano VPN app Friday. Ovano, which promised users an added level of privacy while using public Wifi hotspots, was used by Facebook for market research purposes. Facebook removed the app from the Google Play store Friday, and the company [...]

  • Smosh

    Smosh Acquired by Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment

    UPDATED: Smosh, the long-running YouTube comedy brand, has been acquired by Mythical Entertainment, the company formed by Rhett & Link, hosts of comedy show “Good Mythical Morning.” As first reported by Variety last week, Mythical emerged as the leading candidate to buy Smosh, which was left stranded after parent company Defy Media shut down without [...]

  • China Video Streaming Giant iQIYI Loses

    Chinese Video Giant iQIYI Loses $1.3 Billion in 2018

    Chinese video streaming firm iQIYI lost over $1.3 billion in 2018, as revenues and subscriber numbers ballooned. The deepening losses reflected ever higher spending on original content production. Announcing its first full-year financials since a March IPO that launched it onto the NASDAQ, iQIYI said that it lost $1.3 billion (RMB9.1 billion) last compared with [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Aims to Top $1 Billion in Revenue in 2019, Beats Holiday Quarter Earnings Expectations

    Roku wants to become a billion-dollar company in 2019, and invest more in its ongoing international expansion. The streaming-device maker told investors on Thursday that it expects to generate between $1 billion and $1.025 billion this year, and that international growth was one of its key investment areas for 2019. Roku made these announcements as [...]

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content