5.8/10
431
15 user 5 critic

The Moonlighter (1953)

Approved | | Western | 19 September 1953 (USA)
A cattle herder turned rustler runs from a lynch mob and falls, again, for an ex-lover.

Director:

Roy Rowland

Writer:

Niven Busch (story and screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Rela
Fred MacMurray ... Wes Anderson
Ward Bond ... Cole Gardner
William Ching ... Tom Anderson
John Dierkes ... Sheriff Daws
Morris Ankrum ... Alexander Prince
Jack Elam ... Slim
Charles Halton ... Clemmons Usqubaugh - Undertaker
Norman Leavitt ... Tidy
Sam Flint ... Mr. Mott - Bank President
Myra Marsh Myra Marsh ... Mrs. Anderson
William Kerwin ... Tony
Tom Keene ... Sheriff (as Richard Powers)
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Storyline

In the early 1900s, Wes Anderson is arrested for night-time cattle rustling (moonlighting). He had been gone from his home town for five years, leaving his sweetheart, Rela, to wait for him. Wes' brother, Tom, has chosen a different path in life and works as a teller in a bank in Rio Hondo. Tom is in-love with Rela and he pressures her to marry him in Wes' absence. Languishing in a sheriff's jail, Wes is awaiting trial, which promises to be a fair one, at least according to the town sheriff. But an angry lynch mob of local ranchers agitate in front of the jail, swinging a hanging rope and hankering for Wes' blood. When the sheriff leaves his jail for a lunch-break, the mob breaks into the jail, grabs an imprisoned hobo by mistake and hangs him. The lynch-mob believes to have hung Wes but he is safe, in jail. After he escapes from jail, Wes vows revenge on the members of the lynch mob. During the following days, Wes raids the ranches of those who participated in the lynch mob. He burns... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"I'LL GIVE YOU AN HOUR TO CHANGE MY MIND 'MOONLIGHTER' BEFORE I TURN YOU IN!" (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le voleur de minuit See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Ben Mankiewicz on TCM, Barbara Stanwyck did her own stunts during the waterfall scene, and despite becoming black and blue, never held up the production. See more »

Goofs

The sexed-up image of Rela (Barbara Stanwyck), in a short skirt, and low cut blouse, prominently displayed on the poster, is nothing like the politely clothed, 45 year old Stanwyck who appears in the film; the provocative line of dialogue attributed to her on the poster, is never heard. See more »

Quotes

Rela: You've changed, Wes.
Wes Anderson: Nobody stays the same.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits roll up from behind the scene of mountains, and include "Photographed in Natural Vision 3 Dimension", See more »

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User Reviews

 
Babs and Fred Can't Do Anything With This Western
31 July 2008 | by alonzoiii-1See all my reviews

Fred McMurray left Barbra Stanwyck five years ago, always promising to return. But, while Babs drifts into an engagement with Fred's brother, Fred has been stealing cattle by moonlight (and barely misses getting lynched for his efforts). Will Babs find true love with THE MOONLIGHTER when he returns to town, or will the production code force Fred to pay some awful penalty before she gets the chance?

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray made four movies together. Three of them are classics. This justifiably obscure western is the one that isn't. This is true, even though screenwriter Niven Busch was responsible for the great Stanwyck western -- The Furies. What goes wrong here is a mediocre and very disjointed plot that always seems to be darting off in a new, random direction, just when the old plot elements are developing some tension. There's nothing wrong with the acting. Fred and Babs play their roles well. It's just that the movie itself gives the two stars less scenes together than you would think, and cheats Babs of screen time to develop her character in the later portion of the film. Finally the film suffers from a tacked on ending that is five parts production code nonsense and five parts 3-D outdoor spectacular climax.

A western disappointment. All parties involved have done better work.


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