movie review: The Raging Tide (1951)

The Raging Tide stars Richard Conte, who we’ve seen in a bunch of recent movies reviewed here, and probably why it showed up on my screen one day. Conte is another criminal who kills a rival and has to run out of town. The motive is pretty obvious so now he needs to pretend he wasn’t around. But it seems like every avenue in San Francisco is blocked by the cops, and no one can vouch for him otherwise, so he does the next best thing: hides out in a commercial fishing boat and head to sea.

The fishing boat is run by a father/son team and the son isn’t sure about anything, including his interest in fishing. So Conte is discovered and they’re like “okay, well, you’re going to learn to fish with us.” The son is suspicious, the dad not so much: he loves showing Conte the ropes and Conte starts to love the freedom of the open sea and a day’s hard work. However, Conte can’t leave his crime business unattended, so he sends the son back on land to check on a few things and relay info back to him, so Conte could see if the coast (er, land) is clear. The son starts to like the high life that Conte was living in, including getting close with Conte’s girl, played by Shelley Winters. The cops start to piece things together, who is this slab of working class meat showing up wearing all these nice suits and hanging out with shifty characters? and those hilly roads might lead to the pier leading back to Conte.

Things happen? This was a pretty good one: I thought it’d be an over the top tense hostage movie with Conte keeping the father at gunpoint while the son is forced to clumsily do Conte’s bidding in a world he never stepped his sealegs in. Instead it’s Conte putting up with the monotony and physical strain of working on a boat and enjoying it, it could be his life but he can’t pull a switcheroo with an innocent doofus just because he found a new calling.

There’s really not much more to say than that – I enjoyed it, the drama and Conte’s attempt at a new life. Check it out if you can. The son is played by Alex Nicol, who had a pretty long career in movies & tv, and would direct a lot of television. I know him from his directorial debut, which he also had a role in: The Screaming Skull, from the ninth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s a great episode, but by itself the movie is kind of blah and boring, and other than an effectively creepy floating skeleton effect near the end, no one would need to risk the free burial in the event you died from watching it.  

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