"Ebb Tide," the latest film in Technicolor, is a great disappointment; first, Director James Hogan falls in love with his blues and greens, second, for the most part the actors either overplay or underplay their parts, and third, the picture starts so slowly that one is led to believe that the first two reels are still sitting in the Back Bay luggage room.
As for color, perhaps we have been spoiled by the perfection of "A Star Is Born," the color in the present film completely obscures both plot and character portrayal, and even with its black and white, "Hurricane" paints a far truer picture of the South Seas atmosphere than does "Ebb tide." Though Francis Farmer is a good enough excuse for forgetting a plot innumerable shots of a dilapidated schooner in a sunset are not.
Stevenson's story is common knowledge. Suffice it to say that Oscar Homolka, as the liquor beridden skipper who lost his ship and his papers while suffering from overmuch tipping of the bottle, is at times excellent and at times downright boring. Barry Fitzgerald, as the disreputable cockney, almost holds the picture up on his own shoulders only to damp it by horribly overacting. Ray Milland and Miss Farmer supply the love interest, but neither get very excited over their emotion; in fact the former does not know how to walk on the screen, let alone act. As a mugger, however, Mr. Milland is tops to those who watched him to walk off with "The Gay Desperade." Most discouraging of all is Lloyd Nolan's completely unconvincing role as Atwater, the insane owner of a pearl bed.
In these days when screen action is swift and vivid and of absorbing interest, the growing luridness of "Ebb Tide" is not a pleasant change in cinematic diet but in spite of its spasmodic gait it does create tension in its closing minutes. Nevertheless one still goes home distracted by unanswered situations and incidental superfluities in the script. In short, "Ebb Tide" is not recommended.
A remarkably good state show saves the evening from being a total wash-out. Twelve diving beauties of the Lottie Mayer Disappearing Water Ballet submerge themselves in a fascinating manner; Hal Le Roy taps far better than it has been Boston's privilege to enjoy for some time, and three unknown young ladies throw themselves all over the stage with amazing abandon.