AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Moontide
Alternate Title: Moon Tide
Director: Archie Mayo (Dir)
Release Date:   29 May 1942
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 29 Apr 1942
Production Date:   27 Nov 1941--9 Feb 1942; retakes 12 Feb 1942
Duration (in mins):   94-95
Duration (in feet):   8,570
Duration (in reels):   10
Print this page
Display Movie Summary


Cast:   Jean Gabin (Bobo)  
    Ida Lupino (Anna)  
    Thomas Mitchell (Tiny)  
    Claude Rains (Nutsy)  
    Jerome Cowan (Dr. [Frank] Brothers)  
    Helene Reynolds (Woman on boat)  
    Ralph Byrd (Reverend Price)  
    William Halligan (Bartender [Charlie])  
    Sen Yung (Takeo)  
    Chester Gan (["Henry"] Hirota)  
    Robin Raymond (Mildred)  
    Arthur Aylesworth (Pop Kelly)  
    Arthur Hohl (Hotel clerk)  
    John Kelly (Mac)  
    Ralph Dunn (Policeman [George])  
    Tully Marshall (Mr. Simpson)  
    Tom Dugan (First waiter)  
    Vera Lewis (Mrs. Simpson)  
    Tommy Mack (Waiter)  
    Forrest Dillon (Harbor policeman)  
    Max Wagner (Fisherman)  
    William Forrest (Well-dressed man)  
    Paul Burns (Clerk)  
    Marion Rosamond (Girl at beach)  
    Roseanne Murray (Girl at beach)  
    Bruce Edwards    
    Gertrude Astor    

Summary: French-born dock worker Bobo travels from town to town, performing odd jobs and getting drunk at every opportunity. One evening, he comes to San Pablo, California, to meet his Irish friend Tiny, who finds jobs for him. Tiny tells him that there is a job waiting for him elsewhere, and Bobo spends the rest of the night drinking, fighting and flirting with a saloon girl named Mildred. The next morning, Bobo awakens on a bait barge belonging to "Henry" Hirota and his son Takeo. When Henry arrives, he explains to Bobo that they met while Bobo was drunk, and that Bobo agreed to work for him. After policeman George comes by, Takeo explains that Pop Kelly, a grumpy old sailor whom Bobo also met, was choked to death during the night. Bobo is horrified, for he fears that he may be the culprit, and finds Tiny, who wants to go to San Francisco. Bobo agrees, then spends the afternoon with Nutsy, a philosophical night watchman. Bobo and Nutsy are walking on the beach when they see a woman trying to drown herself. Bobo rescues her, then protects her from a policeman trying to arrest her for attempting suicide. The woman, a waitress named Anna, is bitter about Bobo's interference, but Bobo takes her to the barge anyway. Anna, who has led a hard life, cheers up the next day and cooks breakfast for Bobo. He also meets Dr. Frank Brothers, a doctor whose boat has broken down during a cruise with his mistress. After fixing Brothers' boat, Bobo is confronted by Tiny, and Anna overhears Tiny berating Bobo for his heroics. Fearing that she is holding Bobo back, Anna leaves, but returns after Bobo decides to stay in San Pablo and make a home with her. With the help of some paint and curtains, the couple decorate the barge and decide to marry. To avoid the temptation of becoming too intimate before the marriage, Bobo goes with Henry and Takeo in search of bait while Anna tends the barge. Tiny drops by to see Anna and implies that Bobo killed Pop, and that if Anna does not let Bobo go, he will tell the police. When Bobo returns, Anna questions him about his past and Tiny. Bobo admits that his strength can be a liability, for when he was young, he almost choked a jeering cousin to death, and two years previously, he killed a man in self-defense during a fight. Tiny helped Bobo escape and has been living off him ever since. The next day, Nutsy acts as Bobo's best man, and Reverend Price marries Bobo and Anna. Their celebration is cut short by Brothers, whose boat has broken again. While Bobo is repairing it, Anna opens his wedding gift to her, which is a tawdry dress that he bought from Mildred. Anna is dismayed, but Nutsy advises her that a smart wife will not be too modest at home and cause her husband to look elsewhere for excitement. Bobo is still gone when Nutsy leaves, and Anna is upset by the arrival of Tiny, who is more drunk than usual. She offers to keep paying him money each week, but repulses his attempts to kiss her. Tiny keeps advancing, warning her that she cannot tell Bobo or else he will inform the police that Bobo killed Pop. As he talks, Anna realizes that it was Tiny, not Bobo, who killed Pop, and her accusations enrage him. When Bobo and Brothers return, they find the badly beaten Anna and rush her to the hospital. Suspecting Tiny, Bobo chases him out onto the water break, and the terrified Tiny escapes into the water, even though he cannot swim. Bobo tries to help him, but Tiny is washed out to sea by the waves. Bobo then returns to the hospital, where Nutsy informs him that Brothers has sent for a specialist and that Anna will live. Later, Brothers brings Anna to the barge, and Bobo carries her over the threshold. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Archie Mayo (Dir)
  Fritz Lang (Dir)
  Saul Wurtzel (Asst dir)
Producer: Mark Hellinger (Prod)
  Darryl F. Zanuck (Exec prod)
Writer: John O'Hara (Scr)
  Nunnally Johnson (Contr wrt)
Photography: Charles [G.] Clarke (Dir of photog)
  Lucien Ballard (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Richard Day (Art dir)
  James Basevi (Art dir)
  Salvador Dali (Nightmare seq des)
Film Editor: William Reynolds (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
Costumes: Gwen Wakeling (Cost)
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge (Mus)
  David Buttolph (Mus)
Sound: Eugene Grossman (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Make Up: Guy Pearce (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: William Koenig (Prod mgr)
  Dr. C. S. Long (Tech adv)
  Mary Lait Salemsen (Dial coach)
Country: United States

Music: "Moontide" by Alfred Newman; "Remember" by Irving Berlin; "Tiger Rag," music by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.
Composer: Irving Berlin
  Alfred Newman
  Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Source Text: Based on the novel Moon Tide by Willard Robertson (New York, 1940).
Authors: Willard Robertson

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 29/5/1942 dd/mm/yyyy LP11336

PCA NO: 7979
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

 
Genre: Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Blackmail
  Dock workers
  Drunkenness
  Love
  Regeneration
 
Subjects (Minor): Attempted rape
  Attempted suicide
  Barges
  Chinese
  Clothes
  Dogs
  French
  Irish
  Mistresses
  Murder
  Philosophy
  Physicians
  Saloons
  San Pablo (CA)
  Waitresses
  Watchmen
  Weddings

Note: During production of this film, the title was frequently spelled Moon Tide , as is the title of Willard Robertson's novel. HR news items note that Fritz Lang was originally assigned to direct the picture, and that he worked on it, with director of photography Lucien Ballard, until 8 Dec 1941. According to a 6 Dec 1941 New York Journal American article, noted French actor Jean Gabin, who made his American film debut in Moontide , asked for Lang to direct the film "not only because of their old friendship, but, realizing the importance of his first film here, he wanted a maestro whose work he knew and admired." A 9 Dec 1941 HR news item noted that Lang was switched to another film due to "a disagreement over treatment of the story" and that he was replaced by Archie Mayo. Ballard was replaced by Charles Clarke.
       According to Nov 1941 HR news items, the studio was negotiating with actor William Gargan to play "a top spot," and Frank Orth had been "set" in the film. Although HR production charts include Mary Beth Hughes in the cast, her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, famed surrealist painter Salvador Dali created five sketches and three paintings that were used in the film during a "nightmare sequence" when "Bobo" is drunk. A 10 Feb 1942 HR news item noted that the film could not be shot on location at the San Pedro waterfront, as had originally been intended, due to "war regulations." The legal records indicate that some background process plates were shot at the harbor before the United States entered World War II, and that some of the picture was shot on location at Malibu, CA.
       Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that RKO was the first studio interested in producing a film based on Willard Robertson's novel, but that the Breen Office advised against it, stating that "this story could never be approved under the Code." Among the many things to which the PCA objected were the sexual relationship between the two main characters; "the theme that human destiny is influenced solely by 'devils' or 'Fate'"; and the lack of punishment when "Tiny" kills "Ada" [in the book, Anna is called Ada, and she dies while trying to escape from Tiny]. After the property was acquired by Twentieth Century-Fox, the PCA again rejected the story, although it considered the Oct 1941 script "an immeasurable improvement over the novel." The PCA specifically objected to the suggestion that "Bobo" was "an unpunished murderer"; "the condonation of suicide"; "the suggestion of illicit sex on the part of Dr. Brothers"; and "excessive and unnecessary drinking." PCA officials continued to object to scenes depicting drinking, sexuality and violence, and also the sequence in which "Nutsy" counsels "Ada" that a wife should not be too modest at home. Eventually, however, the picture was approved and awarded a certificate number. Upon its release the film received fair reviews, although the MPH reviewer pointed out: "Because of its strong nature, the picture is aimed exclusively at adult audiences." For his work on Moontide , Charles Clarke was nominated for an Academy Award for Achievement in Cinematography (Black-and-White), but lost to Leon Shamroy ( The Black Swan ). On 30 Apr 1945, Humphrey Bogart and Virginia Bruce starred in the Lux Radio Theatre presentation of the story. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   18 Apr 1942.   
Daily Variety   17 Apr 42   p. 3, 6
Film Daily   17 Apr 42   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Oct 41   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Nov 41   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Nov 41   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Nov 41   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Nov 41   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Nov 41   p. 1, 9
Hollywood Reporter   3 Dec 41   p. 1, 8
Hollywood Reporter   9 Dec 41   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Dec 41   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jan 42   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Feb 42   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Feb 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Feb 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Feb 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Apr 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Apr 42   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   17 Apr 1942.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   18 Apr 42   p. 609.
NY Journal American   6 Dec 41   p. 11.
New York Times   30 Apr 42   p. 14.
Variety   22 Apr 42   p. 8.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
Advanced Search
AFI Membership
The definitive list of classic American films

© 2014 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.