Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Johnny Stool Pigeon

From sea to shining sea! 

That’s the attempted reach of 1951’s The Raging Tide, yet another film noir offering highlighting the streets and alleys of San Francisco.  With steely-eyed direction from prolific director George Sherman (Larceny, The Sleeping City) and ace cinematography from Russell Metty (The Stranger, Touch of Evil), The Raging Tide is what happens when the cold blast of gunfire echoes through the fog of the city and another gangster gets what's coming to him.

"limps along once the story changes and more characters are introduced"


The Raging Tide starts out great, but limps along once the story changes and more characters are introduced.  Turns out, the only thing RAGING in this movie is the sea . . . and an ON FIRE performance from Shelley Winters, who brings more to her role than was ever written in the original script.

And so another gangster’s rival has just gone lights out.  With a gun in hand, Bruno Felkin (Richard Conte) has to get clear of the city.  Unfortunately, his go-to gal, Connie (another mesmerizing performance from Shelley Winters) isn’t able to cover for his actions, so he hides himself overnight in a docked boat.  His intent is to ride out the swarm of police and detectives that will ultimately descend upon Connie, who works as a hat check girl.  It is not to head to sea, but that’s what happens when an elderly captain (Charles Bickford) and his unhappy son (Alex Nicol) arrive in the morning for their fishing trip.

Will they buy his story and let him fish with him or is it curtains for Bruno? Can he make a deal that will save his life?Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Johnny Stool Pigeon

And don’t forget about his girlfriend.  Connie is not like other gun molls.  She puts up with none of the police attempts to get her to rat out her boyfriend.  She’s stronger than they had originally thought and leans back - even as the police intensify their questioning of her - harder.  It’s a solid performance from Winters; one that goes to show that she was in fine form throughout her career in Hollywood.

While competently shot, The Raging Tide - outside of its title - isn’t much of a drama.  It also isn’t film noir either.  This is a solid cops and robbers type of flick which doesn’t really challenge viewers with any of the themes associated with the film noir movement.  Film Noir, as a genre in film, stems from the assault of way too many “Happy Endings” in Hollywood.  It’s a natural response full of pessimism and fatalism and, as a result, it butters this reviewer’s bread.  For about a decade, writers and directors could see that audiences weren’t interested in fairy tales anymore.  There was too much poverty; too much death and destruction; too many wars.  And the push to urban life had created an economic disparity that lingered long after any romantic ending did.  

People needed the darkness to be acknowledged and, from 1944 to 1955, it was cinema’s prime celebrity as highly cinematographic films - cheaply made - fell onto the rain-soaked streets of Home Town, USA.  But this one has a sappy ending and, even if there are sacrifices made, can’t help but feel a wee bit too artificial for its own good.

The Raging Tide, now on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber’s Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI, is merely one offering from that defining era of filmmaking.

3/5 stars

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: The Raging Tide (1951)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- April 26, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
: English SDH

Discs: Blu-ray Disc; three-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Not even the fury of the lashing sea could match the raging passions that bound them! A San Francisco gangster is rubbed out by rival Bruno Felkin (Richard Conte, Cry of the City), who himself reports the crime to Homicide Lieutenant Kelsey (Stephen McNally, The Lady Gambles) in an alibi scheme which fails. To escape, he stows away on a fishing boat, where skipper Hamil Linder (Charles Bickford, Duel in the Sun) receives Bruno kindly. Later, Bruno enlists Hamil’s son Carl (Alex Nicol, Because of You) to do his dirty work offshore, but things turn sour when Carl takes an interest in Bruno’s girl Connie (Shelley Winters, He Ran All the Way). An exhilarating, stormy climax highlights this unique seafaring noir from director George Sherman (Larceny, The Sleeping City) and cinematographer Russell Metty (The Stranger, Touch of Evil).  


With a crisp black-and-white 2K transfer, The Raging Tide lands on blu-ray thanks to the crackling efforts of Kino Lorber.  Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout. Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it. The blacks and grays are handled expertly by the transfer.  Beads of sweat are visible, wet city streets, textures in clothing, and even the dirt in the pavement is all visible with fine textures throughout.


Bang! Bang! Bang!  Shots are fired on the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which accompanies this film noir flick.



  • The NEW commentary from Film Historian David Del Valle and Producer Miles Hunter will delight fans of this noir flick.

Special Features:

There is a collection of trailers for future releases, including one for this release.

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 2/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

2.5/5 stars

Film Details

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Singapore

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
93 mins
: George Sherman
Ernest K. Gann
Shelley Winters; Richard Conte; Stephen McNally
: Noir | Crime | Action
Not even the fury of the lashing sea ... could match the raging passions that bound them!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Little men are smarter. There's not so much space between their ears."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 1951
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 26, 2022.
Synopsis: After a San Francisco gangster murders a rival criminal, he seeks shelter on a fisherman's boat while the police are man-hunting him and pressuring his girlfriend into betrayal.


Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Singapore