Night Tide (Harrington, 1961)

Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide is maybe most notable for a performance by a young Dennis Hopper, 6 years after he surfaced as Goon in Rebel Without a Cause.  This is a Hopper who would be remarkably different from the one so familiar to 70s-forward audiences.  Here he’s so vulnerable and quiet; he’s not yet the easy riding anti-establishment figure to come.

Night Tide would make a great double feature with Carnival of Souls from 1962.  Hopper plays Johnny Drake, an itinerant sailor, who falls in love with Mora (Linda Lawson), a mermaid in the local carnival with a dark past.

For being a thin, no-budget (IMDb estimates it at $25,000) film, Night Tide has some nice atmosphere.  It’s a little thin on plot at times, but its fun set pieces and jazzy, A Bucket of Blood feel, make it a good watch.

One of the funniest moments is a nightmare sequence that has Hopper wrestling an obviously fake octopus:

Picture 1 Picture 2

It’s a little cheesy, but I like the homemade, no-money aesthetic, and Hopper plays it entirely straight-faced.

There’s a nice sequence towards the end of the film that really takes advantage of the beach-front location.  Johnny goes out alone on the beach searching for Mora, who has disappeared.  It’s mostly quietly shot, really just emphasizing the sound of the waves.  Harrington has a pretty good shot selection here, emphasizing the depth underneath those docks:

Picture 4 Picture 5 Picture 6 Picture 7 Picture 8 Picture 9 Picture 11

Harrington keeps the camera pretty eye-level here, save that one overheard shot (#4 above).  That’s in contrast to the lead-in to the climax of the film when Johnny trots through the carnival:

Picture 12 Picture 13 Picture 14

That lone close-up brings us even nearer to Johnny and the other two camera angels are low.  It’s a good use of the dramatic angle, and really uses that ferris wheel well (love that first shot just above).  I really like it when filmmakers shoot different locations in different ways.  Granted sometimes it’s not called for, but here I think it is.  Harrington’s inflected angles in this last sequence recall something closer to The Lady from Shanghai and all its noir-ness, where that beach scene and its brooding pace couldn’t be further from Welles’ trickery.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements

About dcpfilm

Shooting, teaching, writing and watching the Phillies.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s