Monday, July 26, 2010

The Sounding Sea

Comicon 2010 is done, and unlike most years I didn't come home with a million strange little trinkets, lip balms, and tote bags advertising shows on the USA network that I will, no doubt, never see. This time I just said NO to extraneous plastic.

But that doesn't mean that I came home empty-handed! In fact, Gabriel and I made one of our greatest Comicon finds ever on Saturday: an original poster for the wonderful cult film Night Tide. If you have never heard of this film it is definitely worth finding and watching. Written and directed by Curtis Harrington in 1960, it's an obvious homage to the Val Lewton films of the 40s. It's also Harrington's first full-length feature; up to that point he had been known for his experimental short subjects.

A very young and surprisingly fresh-faced Dennis Hopper stars as Johnny Drake, a young seaman on shore leave. He soon meets Mora (Linda Lawson), a woman who believes herself descended from a race of sirens. They bond in a jazz club that you wish really existed but of course wouldn't be half as cool if you really went there. And that's just the set up, before you learn that Mora lives in an apartment on the Santa Monica pier. Above a carousel. With a semi-tame seagull that comes and goes as he pleases. It's also before you learn that she works in a cheesy sideshow as a "mermaid", floating in a tank of water all day. Felling the psychosexual vibe yet? If not, just stick around for the dream sequence which involves Mora emerging from a bath, dropping her towel for Johnny, turning into an octopus, and trying to kill him.

All of this makes the film sound much cheesier than it really is. Sure, it should come off that way, but somehow it skirts the line and tumbles down into the wilder, more spell-binding territory of dream logic. Some of the imagery is truly stunning, and by the end you really feel for poor Mora, and for Johnny too. And for the moody Santa Monica of old, filled with hot jazz clubs and spooky sideshows which exert their own siren song despite having never really existed either.

4 comments:

  1. That does sound very, very cool. Crass though it may be to point out, too, you did well to find that at an affordable price so soon after Hopper's passing.

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  2. Sounds extremly intresting. I'd like to see it someday.

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  3. That's true, Tatty! As we were buying it the guy taking the money suddenly noticed Hopper's name: "Oh, I guess you got a good deal there..." I think he hadn't looked through his stock before setting it out!

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