The Moonlighter (1953)

Approved   |    |  Western


The Moonlighter (1953) Poster

A cattle herder turned rustler runs from a lynch mob and falls, again, for an ex-lover.

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5.8/10
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  • Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in The Moonlighter (1953)
  • Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in The Moonlighter (1953)
  • Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in The Moonlighter (1953)
  • Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in The Moonlighter (1953)
  • Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in The Moonlighter (1953)
  • Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in The Moonlighter (1953)

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17 May 2012 | Michael_Elliott
Great Opening Sequence Then All Downhill
The Moonlighter (1953)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

A rather bizarre Western starts off with a huge bang but then slowly dies into melodrama. Fred MacMurray plays a man believed dead but he shows back up at his mother's house swearing vengeance on what's happened to him. He then realizes that his former love (Barbara Stanwyck) is now seeing his younger brother (William Ching), which sets off a love triangle. THE MOONLIGHTER is an incredibly disappointing film when you consider the cast and especially after how well it got started. I'm not going to spoil the first fifteen-minutes because it delivers a few key plot points that are best if you don't know them going in. I will say that the entire sequence contains some terrific drama, great action and even a couple good laughs. The entire sequence is build around them wanting to lynch a cattle robber but there are many complications that come from this and it really leads to a terrific sequence. Sadly, after this, the film turns into a silly soap opera and the love story between MacMurray and Stanwyck is never believable. The two of them are always good together and their past films prove that but there's very little fire here between the two. I think a lot of this is due to the silly screenplay, which just goes crazy in the second half of the film and even the director makes some silly mistakes including using a score meant for a comedy during a couple critical killing scenes. The ending is without question one of the worst in film history and how characters just flop is downright silly. Even the big action climax at the end doesn't work as the director brings no suspense to it. The actors are fine and that includes Ward Bond as a bad guy but the film is just a mess. Originally this was shown in 3D but outside of the opening credits I didn't see a single thing fly to the screen so this movie's reputation of being one of the worst 3D movies is probably true.

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