Nacht im Hafen (1942)

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Nacht im Hafen: Directed by Archie Mayo, Fritz Lang. With Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains. In California, Bobo and his mooching ‘pal’ Tiny are doing odd jobs and getting drunk and they hide a secret about the unsolved murder of sailor Pop Kelly but suicidal waitress Anna, saved by Bobo, unravels the mystery.

“Moontide (1942)u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWhat a surprise, and with some well known actors in little known roles. And one little known actor in the U.S., the great French star Jean Gabin. All put together in an elegant, fast, and sympathetic way.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe story is rather sweet, a love story between two unlikely loners, the charming and volatile hard drinking Bobo, played by Gabin, and the young and troubled Anna, played by Ida Lupino. Each of their pasts looms and interferes in the romance, mainly through the maliciousness of Bobou0026#39;s old friend, another violent man played by Thomas Mitchell. And then there is the incomparable Claude Rains (you wonu0026#39;t recognize him in the first scenes with his beard), who plays a truly good friend. All of this takes place in a little fishing shack at a big stone breakwater on the California Coast somewhere, and most of it takes place at night. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eArchie Mayo, who made a lot of really good films and few if any masterpieces (u0026quot;Petrified Forestu0026quot; is his most famous, from 1936), really does show mastery of storytelling here. And with cinematography by Charles Clarke good enough to get an Oscar nomination (with some help by the more famous Lucien Ballard), you can see why this is better than most. Fritz Lang is shown as a co-director behind the scenes, and you get suspicious that the visual strength of all this is partly his doing. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBut it is the story itself that might be the achilles heel here–it progresses with some twists that are suggested in the first few minutes, and that donu0026#39;t turn and surprise us later. The end is the end you expect, all neatly packaged.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eNot that you donu0026#39;t mind so much–the leading characters are, if nothing else, very likable. But along those same lines, I think every scene is filmed by-the-book. Very likable, and competent, and rather beautiful all along, but lacking the edges of uncertainty, of emotional depths you would expect from these kinds of characters, even of drama in the few scenes of violence. u0026quot;Moontide,u0026quot; with its poetic title, insists somehow that it is a just a performance and an entertainment, a light romance, even though itu0026#39;s just an inch from tipping into something much bigger.”


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