Blood on the Moon is directed by Robert Wise and is adapted from a Luke Short story by Lillie Hayward and Harold Shumante. It stars Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan, Phyllis Thaxter, Frank Faylen, Tom Tully and Charles McGraw. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. Story has Mitchum as drifting cowboy Jim Garry, who after receiving a job offer in the mail from old acquaintance Tate Riling (Preston), finds himself pitched in the middle of a war between cattle ranchers and homesteaders.
Effective and tightly crafted Western that has garnered many favourable remarks, due in the main to its ability to veer away from formula suggested by the plot and the technical film noir touches brought about by the great Musuraca. With Mitchum turning in one of his great screen dominating performances, film is driven forward by the psychological aspects brought about by thematics such as duplicity, split loyalties and moral quandaries. Director Wise does a good job of pacing the film, keeping it on the slow burn whilst dialling into Jim Garry's mindset, and picture is further boosted by a great knuckle fight and a rip-roaring siege shoot out at the end. But it's the mood created by Musuraca and Wise that is the real winner. With the film set 90% at night or in darkened rooms, shadow play is high and an oppressive feel adds weight to the psychological clocks ticking away in the narrative. In support of Mitchum, Geddes does spunky cowgirl well, while the presence of Brennan, Faylen and the gravel voiced McGraw is keenly felt.
Good story, well acted and visually potent. 7/10