Of the movies categorized as “noir westerns” by writers and historians, none is more celebrated than 1948’s Blood on the Moon. The commingling of the Western genre and the noir style crystalized in this extraordinary film, which in turn influenced the development of the Western in the 1950s as the genre darkened and became more psychological. Produced during the height of the post–World War II film noir movement, the picture transplanted the dark urban environs of the city into the western iconography. Instead of being framed in a Monument Valley sunset, Robert Mitchum’s lone horseman opens the picture as a solitary figure in a dark rainstorm, with the Arizona trail replicating the rain-slicked streets of Los Angeles. Mitchum’s existentialist character Jim Garry plays against traditional Western heroes, with shifting loyalties set against an alienating domain where things are assuredly not what they seem.
Blood on the Moon is a classic Western immersed in the film noir netherworld of double crosses, government corruption, shabby barrooms, gun-toting goons, and romantic betrayals. With this volume, biographer and noir expert Alan K. Rode brings the film to life for a new generation of readers and film lovers.
Alan K. Rode is a charter director and the treasurer of the Film Noir Foundation, spearheading the preservation and restoration of America’s noir heritage. A documentarian and producer, he is also the author of Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film and Charles McGraw: Film Noir Tough Guy.
University of New Mexico Press | unmpress.com
“A first-rate look at an undervalued movie that represents a noted Western author (Luke Short), a talented screenwriter (Lillie Hayward), a director who was just coming into his own (Robert Wise), and a star on the ascendence (Robert Mitchum). Alan K. Rode gives us the story behind the story onscreen.”