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The Raging Tide

Posted by martinteller on November 14, 2012

“Why is it all cops are so big?  Aren’t there ever any little cops?  You might try hiring a few.  Little men are smarter, there’s not so much space between their ears.”

San Francisco hood Bruno Felkin (Richard Conte) has just bumped off one of his rivals.  He tips off the cops then races to his girlfriend Connie’s (Shelley Winters) apartment to establish his alibi.  Trouble is, Connie isn’t home.  Knowing that the police are blocking all exits from the city, he hides out on a fishing boat.  After it sails, he is discovered by the captain, Hamil Linder (Charles Bickman) and his rebellious, bitter son Carl (Alex Nicol).  Carl grows to enjoy life on the sea and recruits Carl to take care of business in the city.  Including keeping his gal company, who is being hounded by the tenacious cop Kelsey (Stephen McNally).

I’ve had a couple of blah movies so far this Noir-vember, but this is the first real dud.  The set up doesn’t make a lick of sense (why does he make that phone call? if he can run to Connie’s apartment in under 7 minutes, why does he assume the police will think he couldn’t have?) and it’s pretty much the only part of the movie that feels truly noir.  Mostly it’s the main characters finding redemption in various ways.  Bruno discovers the father figure he wishes he always had, and feels useful for once.  Carl gets over his rebellious streak and learns to appreciate his old man.  Connie gets weary of ducking the law and falls in love with a nicer guy.  This isn’t noir, it’s an after-school special.

Conte is okay.  I don’t know what else to say about him… all three leads are kind of all over the place, but he feels the most consistent.  Winters is at her best playing shabby, kinda pathetic dames.  In this tougher mold, she’s less convincing, but she does get most of the best dialogue and knows how to deliver it.  Nicol and McNally are forgettable.  But the worst of the leads is Bickman, who imparts an awful lot of old-timer homespun wisdom in one of the hackiest Swedish accents I’ve ever heard.  John McIntyre also gives a painful performance as a “colorful” (read: annoying) character on the docks, and the pack of boozy wharf bums are even worse.

Add a sentimental score and it adds up to a boring and muddled movie, with slippery character motivations and no bite.  Rating: Poor (43)

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