“Blood On The Moon” (Criterion, Amazon)

In my younger years I wasn’t particularly interested in Westerns. As a New York City kid I could relate to urban-scapes and small, claustrophobic rooms. And not that well versed in the U.S. history of the West, I never quite understood the plot or the need for long shots of people riding off into the sunset. But nearly forty years of living in the West has changed my perspective. Having been to Sedona, Arizona, for example, I delighted in recognizing the rock formations framing the setting in Blood On The Moon, a 1948 noir western starring Robert Mitchum ( remember Night of the Hunter, scariest movie ever?), Robert Preston ( Music Man), Barbara Bel Geddes (love her! e.g. Sunset Boulevard) and o.m.g. Walter Brennan!!!! (was he in every western ever made?). It’s actually a pretty good movie, even though I still can’t quite figure out the plot. Mitchum is very sexy, droopy-eyed, Preston is probably better in Music Man (although I have never watched it), Bel Geddes is her usual level-headed wholesome, and Brennan is, well, Walter Brennan–ageless. The lighting for many scenes is Noir as is its loner protagonist trying to forget his past. It’s not a must-see, and it sometimes seems a little longer than its 90 minutes, but I do recommend it for an evening’s diversion and for some of us old fogies, a reunion with some of our favorite stars.

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