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Blood on the Moon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blood on the Moon
Blood on the Moon poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Wise
Screenplay byLillie Hayward
Harold Shumate
Based onThe novel Gunman's Chance, 1941
by Luke Short
Produced byTheron Warth
StarringRobert Mitchum
Barbara Bel Geddes
Robert Preston
CinematographyNicholas Musuraca
Edited bySamuel E. Beetley
Music byRoy Webb
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • November 9, 1948 (1948-11-09) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million[1]
Box office$2.4 million (US rentals)[2]

Blood on the Moon is a 1948 RKO black-and-white "psychological" western film noir directed by Robert Wise and starring Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Robert Preston. The cinematography is by Nicholas Musuraca. The movie was shot in California as well as some of the more scenic shots at Red Rock Crossing, Sedona, Arizona. The picture is based on the novel Gunman's Chance by Luke Short.[3]


Drifter Jim Garry is summoned by his friend, smooth-talking Tate Riling. Garry rides into an Indian reservation and finds himself in the middle of a conflict between a cattle owner and some homesteaders. He meets cattle owner John Lufton, and eventually his daughters Amy and Carol. The Luftons suspect that Garry is on Riling's side and are initially hostile, especially Amy. Garry readily admits that he is going to work for his friend. Despite this, Lufton asks him to deliver a note to his family.

Riling tells Garry that he and his partner, Indian agent Jake Pindalest, have devised an elaborate scheme to force Lufton into selling his herd cheaply. Pindalest has rejected Lufton's cattle as unfit to feed the Indians and ordered him to remove his herd from the reservation within a week. Meanwhile, Riling has organized the homesteaders into blocking the move, conning them into believing that he is working in their interest. With no other option, Lufton would have to sell his herd at bargain prices or lose everything. Lufton would never sell to Riling, but he would to a stranger like Garry. Pindalest would then see that the government buys the herd. Riling offers Garry $10,000 for his part in the swindle.

Lufton manages to outsmart Riling and move his herd off the reservation unimpeded; he and Amy assume (incorrectly) Garry read the note, which described the route he wanted Riling to think he planned to take, but Riling was actually tipped off by Lufton's other daughter, Carol, who is in love with Riling. Riling and his men find the cattle eventually and stampede them back onto the reservation. There is not enough time to gather the herd together and move the herd. Garry becomes disgusted when a young man is killed in the stampede, and he switches sides. Amy still does not trust him. Eventually, she comes to trust (and fall in love with) Garry, especially after he stops two of Riling's men from gunning her farther down.

To buy time, Garry deceives Pindalest, who is unaware of his break with Riling, into sending a messenger to the government to extend the deadline. Garry then takes Pindalest prisoner. Riling and his gang track them down. Garry flees to the cabin of Kris Barden, the father of the young man killed in the stampede; they are joined by Amy. A gunfight erupts. Though wounded earlier, Garry sneaks out at night, knocks Pindalest out and dispatches Riling's two henchmen. That leaves the two old friends to face each other. Riling is fatally wounded. Pindalest is taken into custody, and Garry decides to give up his wandering ways, much to Amy's delight.



Critical response

The New York Times gave the film a good review and lauded Robert Mitchum's acting and Lillie Hayward's screenplay:

...Blood on the Moon still stands out from run-of-the-range action dramas. The reason is obvious enough. This picture has a sound, sensible story to tell and, besides, it is well acted. Robert Mitchum carries the burden of the film and his acting is superior all the way...Lillie Hayward's screen play, taken from a novel by Luke Short, is solidly constructed and by not over-emphasizing Jim Garry's inherent honesty, she has permitted Mr. Mitchum to illuminate a character that is reasonable and most always interesting. The same can be said of the rancher's daughter, whom Miss Bel Geddes represents. Others who give worthy help include Walter Brennan, Mr. Preston, Phyllis Thaxter, Frank Faylen and Tom Tully. And a word should be said, too, for the direction by Robert Wise. A comparative newcomer to the directorial ranks, he has managed to keep the atmosphere of this leisurely paced film charged with impending violence.[4]

The film was also reviewed favorably by Variety magazine:

Blood on the Moon is a terse, tightly-drawn western drama. There's none of the formula approach to its story telling. Picture captures the crisp style used by Luke Short in writing his western novels...Picture's pace has a false sense of leisureliness that points up several tough moments of action. There is a deadly knock-down and drag-out fist fight between Mitchum and Preston; a long chase across snow-covered mountains and the climax gun battle between Preston's henchmen and Mitchum, Brennan and Bel Geddes that are loaded with suspense wallop.[5]


  1. ^ JOSEPH W. TAYLOR (Apr 15, 1948). "Horse Operas Western Films Are Hollywood's Sure-Fire Financial Winners: Range From $40,000 'Oaters' To $1.5 Million 'Epics'; Are 25% of Film Output Action, Danger and Chase Horse Operas: Western Films Are Hollywood's Financial Winners". Wall Street Journal. p. 1.
  2. ^ "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety 5 January 1949 p 46
  3. ^ Blood on the Moon at IMDb.
  4. ^ "Mitchum Carries New Cowboy Thriller, film review". The New York Times. November 12, 1948. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  5. ^ "Film review". Variety. November 1948. Retrieved August 5, 2013.

External links

This page was last edited on 23 July 2021, at 07:34
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