If the sixties had been the forties and Curtis Harrington had had his way, he would have become a film director in the dark, brooding style of his idol, Val Lewton. With the explosion of color film in the mid-sixties, that didn't quite happen, and Harrington did the best he could with television movies like "How Awful About Allan", "The Cat Creature" and "Killer Bees" plus the occasional offbeat theatrical feature. But in 1963, he was permitted one chance to make a black-&-white classic: "Night Tide".
Clearly inspired by "The Cat People", this haunting love story stars an impossibly young-looking Dennis Hopper as a naive sailor who falls in love with a mysterious mermaid at a seaside carnival. Hopper not only looks like a baby here, he's so painfully vulnerable, it's hard to believe that he could play a grungy, lived-in "Easy Rider" within six years of this film. The late Luana Anders, another future cast member of "Easy Rider", is the nice normal girl who supplies chilling commentary on Hopper's dark-eyed seductress Linda Lawson. While Harrington is deeply sympathetic to the dilemma faced by his central characters, he effectively contrasts their romance with graphic nightmare fantasies. "Night Tide" is THE perfect film to watch on a dark and stormy night.
© 2009 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 5/20/09
USA - 1961