Archie Mayo and Fritz Lang direct Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino and Claude Rains in this crime romance where a dockyard thug and a suicidal woman try to rebuild their lives on a houseboat.
Tough and charismatic French star Gabin’s first lead Hollywood vehicle. The always wonderful Ida Lupino playing a little bird with broken wings who comes under his care. A houseboat setting that allows various personalities around the dock to drift in and out of their tentative romance. A thick mood of fog, booze and torpor including a Salvador Dali designed drunken wig-out sequence. Fritz Lang started this project but quit. Allegedly as he and Gabin had both been Marlene Dietrich’s lover and the tension that brought was unworkable. I’d suggest the project isn’t an obvious fit for Lang. The plot is loose, almost indistinguishable. It really is just the community and potential threats anchored around the cautiously chaste but obviously attracted to each other unlikely couple bobbing in and out of scenes. Will Gabin’s Bobo stay on the straight and narrow and settle down? Can Lupino’s Anna survive the more brutal elements of his past that haven’t quite accepted he is moving on? The movie does boast stand out B&W photography by Charles G. Clarke. Deservedly Oscar nominated, you can cut the moody pre-noir atmosphere he creates with a rusty knife.
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