Night Tide. 1961. USA. Written and directed by Curtis Harrington. With Dennis Hopper, Linda Lawson, Gavin Muir. 86 min.
Presented in a meticulous new digital restoration from the original camera negative and a fine-grain master, Curtis Harrington’s surreal thriller Night Tide stars Dennis Hopper as a young sailor who answers the treacherous siren call of a mermaid—or at least that of a strange girl who appears as a mermaid in a seaside carnival in Venice Beach. Harrington achieved a cult following in the mid-1940s and 1950s with his avant-garde film adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe and the myth of Narcissus, and today he is remembered as one of the pioneers of New Queer Cinema. (Night Tide is invariably compared with the horror films of Val Lewton, yet the openly gay Hollywood filmmaker James Whale seems another guiding spirit.) Belatedly released on the bottom half of a double bill with Roger Corman’s The Raven, Night Tide first caught the attention of critics in Italy and France, who were impressed by Harrington’s dreamlike gothic sensibility, the atmospheric cinematography of an uncredited Floyd Crosby (High Noon), and the West Coast jazz of David Raksin (Laura).
Digital restoration courtesy byNWR.com; supervised by Cinema Preservation Alliance