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Moontide (Fox Film Noir) (1942)

Jean Gabin , Ida Lupino , Archie Mayo  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Claude Rains, Jerome Cowan, Ralph Dunn
  • Directors: Archie Mayo
  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, Full Screen, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2008
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001CC7PLW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,876 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Moontide (Fox Film Noir)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by Foster Hirsch, author of The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir
  • Turning of the Tide: The Ill-Starred Making of Moontide featurette
  • Still photo galleries

Editorial Reviews

The little-known but affecting film noir Moontide is full of surprises, especially for the many film fans who may not have seen it until its release on DVD. It stars Jean Gabin, a huge star in his native France, who was trying to cross over to Hollywood stardom in this film, but ended up making just two Hollywood features. It also stars Ida Lupino as his love interest, and who is very affecting and memorable in what could have been a two-dimensional role. Gabin plays Bobo, a wharf rat with a drinking problem working up and down the West Coast of the U.S., and happens on the desolate Anna (Lupino), whom he sees trying to kill herself in the sea. That two such broken characters can find love and help heal one another is one of the main themes of the film, and an unexpected one in the hard bitten genre of film noir. Gabin and Lupino really shine, though Gabin can be a bit hammy in his jauntiness. Playing against type as the bad guy, with unspeakable intentions, is Thomas Mitchell (at the time much beloved, having just played Scarlett O'Hara's Pa in Gone With the Wind). Claude Rains is also affecting, as the local failed intellectual. The story behind Moontide is at least as engaging as the film itself, and happily, this DVD edition includes a 25-minute documentary on the hurdles, some nearly fatal, that faced this little film on its way to be made in 1941. First, it was to have been filmed on location in San Pedro, California--but then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and every port on the West Coast was suddenly girded for possible attack, so the elaborate wharf set was created on the Fox lot. There were tons of risqué themes in the original book upon which the movie is based, and the tales of getting it past the censors are riveting.

And the behind the scenes drama was also intense; master director Fritz Lang started the film, but quit in a snit, and was replaced by the journeyman Archie Mayo. Surrealist Salvador Dali was hired to create a hallucinatory alcoholic dream sequence, but his imagery was reportedly too disturbing to use, so the studio threw it out, but replaced it with an appropriately "Dali-esque" scene, complete with menacing clocks and shuddery imagery. Film buffs won't want to miss this fascinating mini documentary. --A.T. Hurley

Product Description

Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino. An alcoholic dock worker discovers he's killed a man in a late-night brawl. But when he flees to a brooding temptress, he starts to suspect he's been framed. A dark drama from the screenwriting pen of John O'Hara. 1942/b&w/94 min/NR/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
My first introduction to the great French movie star Jean Gabin came not from his French classics like "Grand Illusion" and "Pepe Le Moko," but from this incredible, haunting overlooked gem -- one of the great lost classics of the 1940s -- which, thanks to Fox DVD, is no longer lost!

1942's "Moontide," one of only two American-made/English-language films in which Gabin ever appeared, is not only one of the most powerful and absorbing Films Noir you'll ever see in your life, but it's brilliantly made, as well: While the credited director of the film is Archie Mayo, Fritz Lang ("Metropolis") directed a handful of sequences, and Salvador Dali even contributed a great, surreal "drunk" sequence. The chemistry between Gabin and Ida Lupino is electric and, indeed, I can't speak highly enough about "Moontide," a film which will stay with you long after the final credits have ended. I'm excited that it has finally merited a DVD release, here in the US.

To read more about Jean Gabin and "Moontide," check out my book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO, which is available at, as well as through [...].
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hello, Dali September 18, 2008
Back in 1941, director Archie Mayo (The Petrified Forest, Charley's Aunt, A Night in Casablanca) faced the unenviable task of stepping in to rescue a 20th Century Fox film project called Moontide, which had been abandoned by the great Fritz Lang not too long after shooting had begun. As one of the pioneering German expressionists, Lang was a key developer of the visual style that eventually morphed into a defining noir "look" (some of his pre-1940s classics like M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse and Fury are generally considered seminal proto-noirs). Moontide was also to be the American debut for Frenchman Jean Gabin, already a major star in Europe (Pepe le Moko, The Grand Illusion, La Bete humaine). Needless to say, the pressure was on for Mayo to deliver. And "deliver" he did, with this moody and highly stylistic sleeper, ripe for rediscovery.

Gabin stars as Bobo, an itinerate odd-jobber (the type of character Steve Martin might call a "ramblin' guy") who blows into a coastal California fishing community with a parasitic sidekick named Tiny (Thomas Mitchell) in tow. Adhering to time-honored longshoreman tradition, Bobo and Tiny make a wharfside pub crawl the first order of business when they hit port. It is quickly established that the handsome, likable and free-spirited Bobo loves to party, as we watch him go merrily careening into an all-night boning and grogging fest. The next morning, Bobo appears to be suffering from a classic blackout, not quite sure why or how he ended up sacked out on an unfamiliar barge, wearing a hat that belongs to a man who has met a mysterious demise sometime during the previous evening.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, entertaining, but not great September 27, 2008
By jd103
As a big fan of noir and old black and whites, it's fun to still be able to find an old unknown to me movie like this one and be able to enjoy it. And I did enjoy it for some surreal and unpredictable scenes (such as the drunken night, the locker room, and an unusual wedding gift) and some actors (Rains seemingly a perfect fit for his part, lovable character actor Mitchell playing well against type here, Lupino solid given what she had to work with), but I thought Gabin was fairly clunky throughout and calling it a great film is seriously overrating it. I wouldn't call it noir either even though it's got a French actor, night scenes, and fog.

I haven't listened to the commentary yet, but there's a 25 minute documentary about how it came to be the film it is which I found at least as interesting as the actual movie. It talks about why original director Fritz Lang left, the many topics in the original source material which couldn't get past the censor (and yet somehow did in less obvious ways), and how the film is different from the original story as a result.

It's a fun movie and you'll probably like it. Just don't prepare yourself to see a classic masterpiece.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sea wall of love November 3, 2008
A lovely, lyrical film about the power of the ties that bind us. I see that it was nominated for an Oscar for cinematography, and it definitely shows.

Bobo (Jean Gabin) is a world traveler, a longshoreman who typically comes in to town and leaves with the tide. He is, unfortunately, a very strong man and a bit of a capricious drinker. Due to these tendencies, he has picked up a ramora fish who is unwilling to let go of his meal ticket. When Bobo goes on a bender and an old man ends up dead, the ramora ("Tiny" played by Thomas Mitchell) tucks this nugget into his nasty little pocket to use against Bobo when the time comes. The time comes in the form of lovely frail Anna (Ida Lupino), saved from drowning. Claude Rains shows up as the conscience and soul of the whole affair. "Nutsy" never sleeps ("Not since 1936. Or was it 1937?") maybe because he doesn't want to miss a second of the gorgeous love story unfolding in front of him.

The early drunk scene is truly odd and revelatory. I said to the King of Noirs "looks like German Expressionism". Little did I know how right that was, as Fritz Lang was replaced as the director. That makes sense with the inclusion of both Claude Rains and Jean Gabin...the whole thing rolls like a gently psychedelic germano-french new wave Noir.

Ida is lovely and the performances are first rate all around. The allegory of the sea wall, with the giant anchors along the top, should be inducing film school theses galore. Excellent. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Ida Lupino
Very good mystery. Thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Had never heard of it before. Never seen an Ida Lupino movie I disliked and this adds to that list.
Published 4 months ago by Bmuhs20659
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Film Noir
I'm not sure why, but I love this movie and can watch it over and over again. It's very soothing to me. There is no exploitive content. Warning:! This movie is for romantics only. Read more
Published 6 months ago by C. Duncan
5.0 out of 5 stars "There's Fear In The Night!"
Moontide is a strange and great film from 1942 that the world forgot. The mood and atmosphere of Moontide are most interesting, and the viewer will find it to be a dark story with... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jeremy Shingles
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie revisited
I saw Moontide many years' ago and have always wanted to see it again. It lived up to expectations. A thriller, romance, human empathy. Read more
Published on November 24, 2011 by Annette S. Urquhart
4.0 out of 5 stars Drifter's Farewell
There are a million ways, a million ways cinematically and maybe in life too, that boy meets girl, crime noir or not. Read more
Published on November 13, 2011 by Alfred Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Again, not one of the better film noirs!
This has all of the elements one would expect for a really intriguing story, but somehow it just doesn't work. Not sure just doesn't. It's mediocre at best.
Published on September 6, 2011 by Pendeplume
3.0 out of 5 stars Moontide
Jean Gabin's debut & penultimate US film. He's quite good in an English-speaking role; it's a shame he & Hollywood just weren't into each other. Read more
Published on August 19, 2011 by Charles D. Fulton
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise
I had never seen this movie before but found it to be very enjoyable. I do like Ida Lupino so I gave it a chance. Loved the story.
Published on November 27, 2010 by Annie Oakley
4.0 out of 5 stars mystery
I absolutely adore old mystery movies. This one is great. Some things you see coming and others you don't. Enjoy it.
Published on August 3, 2010 by J. Kroeckel
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite noirs.
I loved this film! I got involved in it and cared about the main characters. Jean Gabin is fascinating to watch. I've added this to my list of favs.
Published on April 12, 2010 by Bernini
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