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During production of this film, the title was frequently spelled Moon Tide, as is the title of Willard Robertson's novel. Hollywood Reporter news items note that Fritz Lang was originally assigned to direct the picture, and that he worked on it, with director of photography Lucien Ballard, until December 8, 1941. According to a December 6, 1941 New York Journal American article, noted French actor Jean Gabin, who made his American film debut in Moontide, asked for Lang to direct the film "not only because of their old friendship, but, realizing the importance of his first film here, he wanted a maestro whose work he knew and admired." A December 9, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Lang was switched to another film due to "a disagreement over treatment of the story" and that he was replaced by Archie Mayo. Ballard was replaced by Charles Clarke.
According to November 1941 Hollywood Reporter news items, the studio was negotiating with actor William Gargan to play "a top spot," and Frank Orth had been "set" in the film. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts include Mary Beth Hughes in the cast, her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, famed surrealist painter Salvador Dali created five sketches and three paintings that were used in the film during a "nightmare sequence" when "Bobo" is drunk. A February 10, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that the film could not be shot on location at the San Pedro waterfront, as had originally been intended, due to "war regulations." The legal records indicate that some background process plates were shot at the harbor before the United States entered World War II, and that some of the picture was shot on location at Malibu, CA.
Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that RKO was the first studio interested in producing a film based on Willard Robertson's novel, but that the Breen Office advised against it, stating that "this story could never be approved under the Code." Among the many things to which the PCA objected were the sexual relationship between the two main characters; "the theme that human destiny is influenced solely by 'devils' or 'Fate'"; and the lack of punishment when "Tiny" kills "Ada" [in the book, Anna is called Ada, and she dies while trying to escape from Tiny]. After the property was acquired by Twentieth Century-Fox, the PCA again rejected the story, although it considered the October 1941 script "an immeasurable improvement over the novel." The PCA specifically objected to the suggestion that "Bobo" was "an unpunished murderer"; "the condonation of suicide"; "the suggestion of illicit sex on the part of Dr. Brothers"; and "excessive and unnecessary drinking." PCA officials continued to object to scenes depicting drinking, sexuality and violence, and also the sequence in which "Nutsy" counsels "Ada" that a wife should not be too modest at home. Eventually, however, the picture was approved and awarded a certificate number. Upon its release the film received fair reviews, although the Motion Picture Herald reviewer pointed out: "Because of its strong nature, the picture is aimed exclusively at adult audiences." For his work on Moontide, Charles Clarke was nominated for an Academy Award for Achievement in Cinematography (Black-and-White), but lost to Leon Shamroy (The Black Swan). On April 30, 1945, Humphrey Bogart and Virginia Bruce starred in the Lux Radio Theatre presentation of the story.