A Movie A Day: MOONTIDE (1942)
I told the guy yes. I told the guy no. I told the guy yes. I told the guy no…
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection or from my DVR and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today we follow director Archie Mayo over from yesterday’s THE PETRIFIED FOREST. History almost fucked up that jump for us. Apparently Mayo was brought in to direct after Fritz Lang was dropped from the film. You can see a lot of Lang’s influences in the movie, specifically a really fucked up drunk scene at the start of the picture.
I’m not kidding, it’s actually kind of scary. It’s like ‘40s whisky was brewed with LSD. Our lead, Frenchman Jean Gabin, gets drunk on whisky in a sailor bar and we’re treated to a nightmare of Lewis Carroll proportions. There’s a fucked up spinning clock, fish-eye lens close ups of characters repeating dialogue, a disappearing woman at a bar (who repeats the quote I used for the subhead a few times), etc.
It’s genuinely terrifying stuff and so completely unexpected in a movie like this.
Gabin is a seaman who is the nicest guy in the world, but can be brutal with his fists if you cross him… especially when he’s drunk. He blacks out after the horror show that is the “getting drunk” montage and wakes up in a little floating bait shop run by two Chinese guys.
He’s wearing a new hat and doesn’t remember the night before. The Chinese guys seem to love him, begging him to work for them, selling bait for $2 a day plus a bottle of saki every single day. He goes to move on, then hears about a man murdered the night before. This old man was strangled and this news stops Gabin in his tracks.
Now he’s worried that in his blackout he murdered this man and later on in the movie we find out that he has nearly strangled someone before. His best friend, the lecherous Tiny (played by a sweaty Thomas Mitchell with giant bushy eyebrows), is less of a friend and more of a blackmailer, having been the sole witness to the so called strangling. I guess minus the guy he almost killed, but either way this dude has the goods on Gabin, so he can be a douchebag, taking a good amount of his money.
I would hesitate to spoil this if it were at all attempted as a surprise, but it’s clear from the very second we see Tiny the next day that he’s the killer. The first thing he does is act like he has ants in his pants, trying to get Gabin out of town, taking a high-paying job up in San Francisco. Gee, I wonder why he’s so eager to get out of town and why he lights up when Gabin tells him that he can’t remember anything from the night before.
The movie doesn’t hinge on this secret, thankfully. No, more central is the romance that develops between Gabin and the gorgeous Ida Lupino who plays a messed up girl who tries to drown herself. Gabin saves her and then keeps her from being arrested for attempted suicide.
Lupino is not only pretty, but a damn good actress to boot. Yesterday I talked about Bette Davis annoying me a little bit with her breathy, rapid-fire airhead stereotypical acting. Lupino is the exact opposite. She’s a darker character, but her delivery is much more internalized, subtle.
Lupino is the catalyst that begins Gabin thinking about abandoning his gypsy life. Add on his wise, wise Teddy Roosevelt looking friend (with the unfortunate name of Nutsy, which always sounds like “nazi” every time someone mentions him) played by one of my all time favorite ever actors, Claude Rains and you have everyone around him nudging Gabin into settling down once and for all.
Rains is quite brilliant in this movie. I have no idea what his motivations are, but he takes an instant liking to Gabin and even starts covering up some things tying him to the murdered man. Like the hat that Gabin wakes up wearing belonged to the dead man and Rains just decides to grab it and burn it. I guess Gabin makes a hell of an impression.
But Rains is so immensely likable that I didn’t need to know why he covers for this guy. It’s enough that he judges him to be a good and decent person, not the murderer that everybody is looking for.
And I’m not kidding when I say Rains is essentially playing Theodore Roosevelt. He’s got the five o’clock shadow, the thick mustache, the glasses and the rough rider-ish hat. I have no idea if that was always planned, decided at the last minute or meant as some visual metaphor that went over my head.
This is another Fox Noir release that I don’t really feel comes off very noirish. The finale, for sure, as Gabin slowly stalks Tiny hellbent on revenge, is very foggy with stark black and white imagery. That feels noir… and the crazy drunk sequence could have been from something like MURDER, MY SWEET, but the rest of the movie is actually a kind of sweet love story. Lupino is no femme fatale, that’s for sure.
And also of note, be sure to pay attention to the Chinese guys who hire Gabin. There’s an older guy and a young one… the older guy has an accent, but not the exaggerated “So Solly Cholly” way that is typical of this era, but what’s really interesting is the younger guy has zero accent whatsoever. Which is realistic, but not common at all in films of the ‘40s. It’s something small, but it stuck out to me as being quite progressive.
Final Thoughts: Gabin is so likable and Lupino is so hot that the center romance really worked for me. The writing’s pretty good, too, so the foundation is solid. Add in yet another winning, charming performance from Claude Rains, some fantastic black and white photography and a sweet central romance gives us a really fun and interesting overlooked film. It falls short of “gem” status, but not by much.
Here’s what we have lined up for the next week:
Tuesday, December 23rd: NOTORIOUS (1946)
Wednesday, December 24th: THE INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS (1958)
Thursday, December 25th: THE HIGH COMMISSIONER (1968)
Friday, December 26th: THE SILENT PARTNER (1979)
Saturday, December 27th: PAYDAY (1972)
Sunday, December 28th: A STRANGER IS WATCHING (1982)
Monday, December 29th: THE NEW KIDS (1985)
Tomorrow's a biggie, in more than one respect. First, it's a giant gaping hole in my Hitchcock knowledge (Notorious) and secondly it marks the 200th AMAD title. Holy shit! Hard to believe, 200 movies in. I also have a bit of announcement to make, so see you folks tomorrow for that movie, following the great Claude Rains over!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried
October 25th: A Bucket of Blood
October 26th: The Bloodstained Shadow
October 27th: I, Madman
October 28th: Return to Horror High
October 29th: Die, Monster, Die
October 30th: Epidemic
October 31st: Student Bodies
November 1st: Black Widow
November 2nd: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
November 3rd: Flying Tigers
November 4th: Executive Action
November 5th: The Busy Body
November 6th: It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
November 7th: Libeled Lady
November 8th: Up The River
November 9th: Doctor Bull
November 10th: Judge Priest
November 11th: Ten Little Indians
November 12th: Murder On The Orient Express
November 13th: Daniel
November 14th: El Dorado
November 15th: The Gambler
November 16th: Once Upon A Time In America
November 17th: Salvador
November 18th: Best Seller
November 19th: The Holcroft Covenant
November 20th: Birdman of Alcatraz
November 21st: The Train
November 22nd: Gunfight At The O.K. Corral
November 23rd: Mystery Street
November 24th: Border Incident
November 25th: The Tin Star
November 26th: On The Beach
November 27th: Twelve O’Clock High
November 28th: Gentleman’s Agreement
November 29th: Panic In The Streets
November 30th: The Hot Rock
December 1st: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
December 2nd: The Day of the Dolphin
December 3rd: Carnal Knowledge
December 4th: The Cincinnati Kid
December 5th: Pocketful of Miracles
December 6th: Mikey & Nicky
December 7th: Two-Minute Warning
December 8th: The Sentinel
December 9th: How To Steal A Million
December 10th: What’s New Pussycat?
December 11th: Being There
December 17th: The Party
December 18th: Casino Royale
December 19th: The Stranger
December 20th: Brother Orchid
December 21st: The Petrified Forest
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Dec. 23, 2008, 3:14 a.m. CST
She was great.
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:17 a.m. CST
Check this one out, if you haven't seen it: a noir directed by a woman! Lupino was decades ahead of her time in '53.
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:19 a.m. CST
Notorious is brilliant! The key shot is the shot of the key.
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:20 a.m. CST
CUTTER'S WAY BEAUTIFUL GIRLS THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS SOUTHERN COMFORT
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:22 a.m. CST
Stick MEET ME IN S LOUIS into the mix; or maybe BAD SANTA.
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:24 a.m. CST
The Last Waltz; Stop Making Sense; Woodstock; anything with Sigur Ros...
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:28 a.m. CST
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:31 a.m. CST
Bram Stoker's Dracula The Sugarland Express Kundun
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:38 a.m. CST
Dec. 23, 2008, 4:45 a.m. CST
on what Quint's big announcement is going to be. I'm no odds maker, so I'm not even going to try, but suggestions<P>Quint is leaving (ala Mori)<P>Quint is staying but AMAD is moving to another site and he'll be pulling double duty<P>AMAD will be going to a movie a week<P>AMAD will be ending<P>Quint got himself a gig on TCM with Robert Osborne because of AMAD
Dec. 23, 2008, 4:52 a.m. CST
On December 31st, Quint will be watching Jaws as part of AMAD...because he's been leading us along all this time and he's never really seen it!<p> Thanks for the review, Q-man. It inspired me to google image search Ida Lupino for about the tenth time this year...
Dec. 23, 2008, 5:38 a.m. CST
by drew mcweeny
... I'm not going to give it away early, because Quint would kill me, but I'll give you a hint... <P>... Wachowski Sister. <P>That's all I'm saying.
Dec. 23, 2008, 5:51 a.m. CST
by Edward Brock
But seriously, this column rules.
Dec. 23, 2008, 6:16 a.m. CST
that is a hell of a hint, HELL of a hint, I can't even imagine<P>I love it, i was going to be heere anyways, but now I hav to find out what it is
Dec. 23, 2008, 6:27 a.m. CST
Um, yeah I'm totally cool with that. I won't treat him different in the least. I mean her, hir... Fuck, sorry. I jus- I just can't deal with this right now!
Dec. 23, 2008, 7:39 a.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
Dec. 23, 2008, 7:41 a.m. CST
by Shut the Fuck up Donny
If you look up Quintessa you'll find links to wine, cigars, luxury yachts, online modeling applications, and a miniature horse farm. <p> Maybe Quint won the lottery and is going to go all "wine, women, and song" for a year? <p> Me, I think Quint's going to start raising miniature horses. <p> This was rather random post, wasn't it?
Dec. 23, 2008, 8:03 a.m. CST
Worth watching just to see James Spader as a BLONDE!
Dec. 23, 2008, 8:26 a.m. CST
Claude Rains was a class act, just great in everything I've seen him in. I'm curious as to your feelings about his character, Quint, when you watch him in Notorious.
Dec. 23, 2008, 9:24 a.m. CST
He remains to me one of the strongest visual directors of all time. There's always some element that was new and exciting about each of his films. While I know he's well regarded in cine-circles, I wish his work was more well known to the masses.
Dec. 23, 2008, 9:26 a.m. CST
Hadn't heard of this one... but accoring to the product description in Amazon: "Fueled by cocaine and armed with a shotgun, Eddie's lust turns to uncontrollable rage, as he takes Abby on a date from hell!" How could that go wrong eh?
Dec. 23, 2008, 11:38 a.m. CST
Apart from the 'spot the Lang' influence - clocks as Quint points out - it is just such a joy to see the great Jean Gabin in an English speaking role. He has the presence of a Tracy or a Mifune - great actor. ANd Lupino more than matches up - any chance we'll be visiting her best noir turn in Road House? Love Rains hat in this too - but not so much the towel-whipping naked Rains part. I'd have said the central affair, though, was more Tiny's obsession with Bobo. And Mitchell is superb - much as I love his 'normal' roles he does make a fabulous bad guy.
Dec. 23, 2008, 4:51 p.m. CST
by Napoleon Park
I don't see Q going A Movie Every Other Day on us - even less likely 2 movies a day.<p>So I'm going to guess he signed a book deal to get these published. Or should.
Dec. 23, 2008, 8:32 p.m. CST
I hope it is positive. The column is the best idea in years and it has been consistent. This is what I did with a group of other video store clerks a decade ago, bring home a non new release and watch and trade up, and discuss it. I have started back watching a film a day, went from the Party, Skin Deep, and then Blind Date.
Jan. 7, 2009, 9:49 a.m. CST
Thomas Mitchell as a bad guy. The guy's one of my favorite character actors and I was just thinking I couldn't remember him being a bad guy in anything.
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