Ida Lupino in Moontide (dir. Archie L. Mayo [replacing Fritz Lang], 1942).
Jean Gabin as Bobo.
Alcoholic montage sequence courtesy of Dalí.
The massive publicity campaign undertaken by Twentieth Century-Fox to make French star Jean Gabin into an American heartthrob was largely a failure. It's interesting to think what audiences made of him in Moontide. He's aggressively aloof, ungainly, almost simian. It appears at times as though America is an alien planet for him, with an unbreathable atmosphere. But it's also clear why he was a star in the first place: he seems in control of every interaction between every part of his body and the camera, down to the minute shadows cast by his facial pores and wrinkles.
The same can be said for Ida Lupino, whose ethereality is always compellingly at play with her back-alley sickliness. She glides limpingly, you might say. You might say that's what this entire movie does. The limp can partly be attributed to the replacement of Fritz Lang as director with the terminally prosaic Archie Mayo, but fortunately enough of Lang's touch remains to give Mayo a healthy push start.
The entire movie is shot on sets, creating a dislocated, dreamlike sense (or the sense that you are watching a filmed play, depending on how generous you want to be). A brief, surreal montage sequence by Dalí is barely a departure from the general mood.