Moontide (1942)

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Ida Lupino and Jean Gabin (and Claude Rains and Thomas Mitchell!) in a strange piece of borderline noirishness!
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US / 95 minutes / bw / TCF Dir: Archie Mayo, Fritz Lang (uncredited) Pr: Mark Hellinger Scr: John O’Hara, Nunnally Johnson (uncredited) Story: Moon Tide (1940) by Willard Robertson Cine: Charles Clarke, Lucien Ballard (uncredited) Cast: Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains, Jerome Cowan, Helene Reynolds, Ralph Byrd, William Halligan, Victor Sen Yung, Chester Gan, Robin Raymond, Arthur Aylesworth, Arthur Hohl, John Kelly, Ralph Dunn, Tully Marshall, Vera Lewis, Tom Dugan.

On Amazon.co.uk a commenter called Now Zoltan (I assume that’s not his real name) has complained that I omitted this movie, which he regards as quintessential to the genre (“a cornerstone noir, one of my favourites”), from my A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir. He also complained about a typo as if it were an error of fact, which I thought was a bit unfair: 675,000 words of information-dense text? Of course you can expect a few typos—though hopefully not very many!

Anyway, I checked my entry for this movie in my personal catalogue and saw that I’d given it the NSH (noirish) rather than the NOIR classification. Since it stars Lupino, Gabin and Rains, three of my all-time favorite actors, and since Fritz Lang was involved, in the ordinary way I’d have bent over backward to include it in the book—i.e., to persuade myself it was sufficiently noir that it oughter go in.

An enigma on the back of a conundrum, and puzzling too.

It had been yonks since last I’d watched the movie, and to be honest I could remember little about it, so I decided to give it another whirl to see if I could work out why I’d decided to omit it. Here goes.

Jean Gabin as Bobo.

Bobo (Gabin) is a longshoreman, and ostensibly a good one, but he has a penchant for hard drinking. Tonight in the saloon called The Red Dot he’s well and truly hammered, to the dismay of his sidekick Tiny (Mitchell), who wants to Continue reading

Never Too Late (1935)

vt Hit and Run

US / 53 minutes / bw / Reliable Dir: Franklin Shamray (i.e., Bernard B. Ray) Pr: Bernard B. Ray Scr: Jack Natteford, Carl Krusada Story: Bennett Cohen Cine: Pliny Goodfriend Cast: Richard Talmadge, Thelma White, Robert Frazer, Mildred Harris, Vera Lewis, Robert Walker, George Chesebro, Bull Montana, Paul Ellis, Lloyd Ingraham.

Never Too Late - 1 Helen spies through the window on Lavelle

 Helen (Thelma White) spies through the window on Lavelle.

Seducer, blackmailer, jewel thief and all-round Frenchman Maurice Lavelle (Ellis) has used his sleazy skills to extract a string of pearls from Marie Hartley (Harris), wife of Police Commissioner George Hartley (Frazer). Marie’s loyal, cute, feisty, spunky, brash (add adjectives to taste) and most importantly unmarried sister Helen (White) is doing her best to get them back. She watches through a hotel window as he hides them in the heel of a gimmicked shoe and puts the shoe in his trunk. As she tries to stick him up, the cops arrive, Lavelle flees and Helen tiptoes away from what looks to be a pretty substantial shootout.

Next we know, the reclaimed trunk and its contents are being offered as a job lot at a police auction of recovered goods. Helen is there, bidding as much as she dare for the item; bidding against her are two obvious sleazebags, who, as we’ll later discover, are Lavelle’s goons: Matt Continue reading

Missing Girls (1936)

US / 66 minutes / bw / Chesterfield Dir: Phil Rosen Pr: George R. Batcheller Scr: Martin Mooney, John Krafft Story: Martin Mooney Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Roger Pryor, Muriel Evans, Noel Madison, Sidney Blackmer, Ann Doran, Dewey Robinson, Wallis Clark, Cornelius Keefe, Ed. Keane, Oscar Apfel, Frank Sheridan, Matty Fain, George Cooper, Ben Carter, Frank LaRue, Ethel Clark, Lloyd Ingraham, Vera Lewis, Robert Fiske, Al Hill, John Dilson.Missing Gir;s 1936 - 0a openerMissing Girls 1936 - 0c opener optionMissing Girls 1936 - 0b opener option

After being struck by her father George (LaRue, no relation, so far as I can establish, of Jack La Rue, whose birth name was Gaspere Biondolillo) for going out on a date with “that Dixon boy,” Ann Jason (Doran) runs away from home and heads for the big city. There she finds work as a waitress, but when one day the boss tells her that in future she’ll be working for no wages, just tips, she turns in desperation to the Travelers Aid Society, a charity run by Dorothy Benson (Evans) to help all the unfortunate runaway women who’re seeking their fortune. Dorothy impulsively offers Ann a job as a Continue reading