Jonah Goodwin (Thomas Mitchell) and Olaf Johnson (John Qualen) are a tailor and a cook, living in Brooklyn. Life isn’t rosy, but the men have one thing that keeps them going: the fishing trips they take together after work. They dream of buying a larger boat, which would allow them to leave their jobs and become professional fishermen.
But, they’ve got families to support, so they keep up the daily grind. Jonah has a daughter, Stella (Ida Lupino), who is engaged to pier auctioneer George Watkins (Eddie Albert). George is kind and adores her, but she’s becoming bored with their simple, routine life.
Stella’s life gets shaken up with the arrival of Goff (John Garfield), a rough-edged gangster who makes his living demanding money from the locals — including Jonah and Olaf, who are forced to pay Goff five dollars a week in order to protect their boat. Stella knows nothing of this, and finds herself falling for Goff and all of the excitement he brings
Out of the Fog was directed by Anatole Litvak. The screenplay was written by Robert Rossen, Jerry Wald, and Richard Macaulay from the play “The Gentle People,” by Irwin Shaw. Also worth mentioning, the film was photographed by the great James Wong Howe!
This is another one of those films that I probably would’ve eventually watched anyway, but became super excited to watch because of the cast. This one features four TMP favorites: Ida Lupino, John Garfield, Thomas Mitchell, and Eddie Albert!
Ida is in top form here, as a young woman fed up with the sameness of her everyday life. Albert is her sweet hometown beau, and Garfield is the dangerous but captivating racketeer who promises excitement and change.
The banter between Lupino and Garfield early on in fantastic. A favorite exchange:
Stella: “I’m sorry, I never heard of you.”
Goff: “You will pretty soon. From coast to coast, they’ll hear of me.”
Stella: “I can wait.”
The sass! In another favorite moment, Garfield uses one heck of a pickup line: “You’re not the type to rot, sister.” Who wouldn’t fall for that charm, eh?
In fact, the entire film has some great dialogue. Eddie Albert has a wonderful, poignant monologue about true happiness and the “phony” nature of Goff’s money-driven life.
But, the dialogue isn’t always great in the “Wow, this is brilliantly written” sense. Sometimes it’s the “I can’t believe that just came out of their mouths!” sense. Case and point:
Jonah, referring to Goff: “He’s a disease.”
Stella: “Then it’s a disease I wanna catch!”
Had I been eating popcorn, I probably would have choked on it when I heard that line. Luckily, I had no snacks to accompany this movie, so I just got a good laugh out of it.
Whether they’re bringing little slices of cheese into the film with their words or genuinely captivating the viewer, the performances in this film are great across the board. Garfield’s performance in particular is very strong. His character is brutal — completely heartless. Garfield got me so angry that I was actually rooting for his character to die, which sounds twisted, but any performance that can evoke such strong emotion is worthy of a round of applause.
The film is also beautifully photographed, with several drop-dead gorgeous shots (like that one of Eddie Albert in the window as Ida is walking up the stairs, which I wish I could find a screenshot of.)
Out of the Fog is a very intriguing drama of crimes, romance, and life in 1940s Brooklyn, told by an excellent cast. My excitement for the film stemmed from that cast, but I’m happy to say that after watching, I was pleasantly surprised by the whole package: the story, the performances, the photography, the atmosphere. I greatly enjoyed this film!