Saturday, April 30, 2016

Moontide (1942) Part I: An introduction

After writing about Ida Lupino's role in "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine," I realized I knew very little about her and wanted to learn more about this intriguing lady and see more of her films. I was surprised to discover that I had already seen her in two films, Search For Beauty and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but had not recognized her as the actress I knew from the Twilight Zone episode I had seen many years prior.
Ida Lupino and Buster Crabbe in Search for Beauty.

Adventures with Nigel Bruce and Basil Rathbone.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention also seeing her fantastic TV appearance as evil-doing swinger, Dr. Cassandra, in the penultimate episode of the Batman TV series from the 1960s. I have also seen television episodes she directed from Thriller, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone, but have yet to see a film she has directed, which I'll be seeking out next. You can learn more about Ida in this documentary.

Super cool Ida with then groovy hubby, Howard Duff.

After searching for movies with Ida Lupino,
I was delighted to stumble upon Moontide, mostly due to the surprise of finding Jean Gabin, who I loved in Le Quai des brumes, Le jour se lève, Pépé le Moko, La Grande Illusion, and La Bête Humaine. I was unaware that he had been in any American films, though I learned this was only one of two he made while here in the United States during the Nazi occupation of France. In addition, there was Thomas Mitchell, who I enjoyed in Only Angels Have Wings, Gone With the Wind, and It's a Wonderful Life. The icing on the cake was my sweetheart, Claude Rains, who I adored in The Invisible Man, Casablanca, Notorious and Now, Voyager. Along with Ida Lupino, it was quite a stellar cast that ensured there would be something for me to love about this movie.

I picked this little number up on a Fox Film Noir DVD, which has good picture quality and some decent extras, including a commentary track and an informative featurette on the making of the film. In it, I learned that Fritz Lang had initially started directing the movie, but was disgruntled for a variety of reasons, and left it to Archie Mayo to finish (Mayo also replaced Lang on the 1941 film, Confirm or Deny). It was supposed to have been filmed in San Pedro, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor forced the closing of ports, and a set had to be created. Salvador Dali designed the drunken hallucination sequence, but much of it was not used, as it was deemed much too scary for American audiences. You can see a few sketches from his initial design at moviediva, which includes some excellent background notes on this film.

If you are interested, check out this film before reading Part II, where I will share my favorite images and discuss this film in its entirety. If you are a Jean Gabin fan, this is one you will want to see. If you are not familiar with him, then here is a taste from Port of Shadows (Le Quai des brumes), a film that is likely to come up in any discussion of Moontide.

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