EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|BLOOD ON THE MOON (director: Robert Wise; screenwriters: Lillie Hayward/from the novel by Luke Short; cinematographer: Nicholas Musuraca; editor: Samuel E. Beetley; music: Roy Webb; cast: Robert Mitchum (Jim Garry), Barbara Bel Geddes (Amy Lufton), Robert Preston (Tate Riling), Tom Tully (John Lufton), Walter Brennan (Kris Barden), Phyllis Thaxter (Carol Lufton), Charles McGraw (Milo Sweet), Frank Faylen (Jake Pindalest), Tom Tyler (Frank Reardon), Clifton Young (Joe Shotten), George Cooper (Fred Barden), Bud Osborne (Cap Willis, foreman of Lufton's ranch), Richard Powers (Ted Elser), Harry Carey Jr. (Cowboy); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Theron Warth; RKO; 1948)|
|"Above average western."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Robert Wise ("The Haunting"/"The
Side Story") directs this above average western. The photography by Nicholas Musuraca imbues it with a shadowy
film noir b/w look. Wise has said that this was his
"first big feature." Writer
Lillie Hayward's script digs
deep for the psychological intensities needed to make the melodramatic
moments sizzle, as she adapts it from the novel by Luke Short. Rising star at the time Robert Mitchum, as
the brooding luckless rugged cowboy with a change of heart after
suffering from pangs of conscience, gives the film a lift with his
moving dark portrayal as the reluctant gunslinger for hire. The film's
traditional plot of homesteaders in a range war with ranchers has been
seen too often, but this straightforward depiction of that plot does it
as good as its ever been done.
The hard-luck broke drifter Jim Garry (Robert Mitchum) has been promised a big money job by his
ex-partner of two years ago Tate Riling (Robert Preston), and sneaks
into town through the hills to see him. The scheming crooked Tate has a
wild scheme to bilk big rancher John Lufton (Tom Tully) of his herd and
in the process make suckers out of the naive small ranchers who side
with him in revolting against the big rancher without realizing that
Tate's only using them to fight his battle. Hired gunslingers Reardon (Tom
Tyler) and Shotten (Clifton Young) turn off Jim with their bad vibes, who
sees himself as just a cowpoke who made a few bad decisions but is not
a hired gun. Jim also feels uncomfortable dealing with Tate's partner
in the scheme--the crooked new Indian agent Pindalest (Frank
Faylen). The agent's part
in the scam is to refuse to buy Lufton's steers to feed the reservation
and thereby force Lufton to sell the steers at a ridiculously low price
to the stranger Jim, who he will not know is working for Tate.
Garry can't go through with
the crooked scheme after the son of small rancher Kris Barden (Walter Brennan)
is accidently killed. He also has a few run-ins with Lufton's feisty
younger daughter Amy (Barbara
Geddes) and after a bad start
the two become lovers, as Jim switches side and has the film's
centerpiece barroom fistfight with Tate.
Lufton's oldest daughter
Thaxter) has become the oily
Tate's lover, who promised her marriage after he gets some money. She
feeds him info on where pop keeps the cattle until she learns that Tate
was only using her.
Things are neatly resolved in
a climactic shootout between Tate and a badly wounded Jim. In the end,
Jim's luck changes, as he picked the right side and has Amy's father
approve their marriage plans.
If you like Mitchum's usual
detached act, you'll love this flick.
REVIEWED ON 9/27/2010 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ