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Blood on the Moon (1948)

Passed  |   |  Action, Drama, Western  |  9 November 1948 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,400 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 11 critic

Unemployed cowhand Jim Garry is hired by his dishonest friend Tate Riling as muscle in a dispute between homesteaders and cattleman John Lufton.



(screenplay), (adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Tom Tully ...
John Lufton
Milo Sweet
Clifton Young ...
Joe Shotten
Frank Reardon
George Cooper ...
Ted Elser (as Richard Powers)
Bud Osborne ...
Cap Willis
Zon Murray ...
Nels Titterton
Bart Daniels


When a shady-looking stranger rides into town to join his old friend it is assumed he is a hired gun. But as the new man comes to realise the unlawful nature of his buddy's business and the way the homesteaders are being used, the two men draw apart to become sworn enemies. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The deadliest range war ever to EXPLODE on the screen! See more »


Action | Drama | Western


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 November 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nacht in der Prärie  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Early in the film, there is gunfire exchanged between Jim Garry and Amy Lufton. Jim fires his rifle 13 times without reloading. While it may seem this would not be possible, because of the size of the cartridges used on the Winchester Model 73, the magazine could hold between 15 and 20 rounds. See more »


Jake Pindalest: Here's the item we were talking about the other day. I think you'll find it satisfactory.
Tate Riling: United States dollars are usually satisfactory, aren't they?
See more »


Referenced in Dead Man (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

When There's Blood on the Moon...Death Lurks in the Shadows
18 June 2006 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

This is perhaps the greatest of the noir westerns. Director Robert Wise had been in charge of the mythical "The Curse of the Cat People," not a sequel to the horror classic, "Cat People," as the studio expected, rather a fantasy film highlighting the imagination of a little girl.

Working with darkness and shadows emphasizing the mood of the picture makes "Blood on the Moon" seem gloomy and pessimistic, but actually the film is more about the redemption of a hopelessly lost cowboy, Jim Garry (Robert Mitchum), who finds meaning in life through the love of a woman, also named Amy (Barbara Bel Geddes) as was the little girl in "The Curse of the Cat People." The opposite of Jim Garry is his so-called pal, Tate Riling (Robert Preston). Rather than redemption, Riling falls deeper and deeper into the maelstrom of depravity, murder, and deception. Even his romance with Amy's sister, Carol Lufton (Phyllis Thaxter), is a treacherous, deceitful one. Riling uses Carol for his advantage, at times against her own family, while she is truly in love with him. Riling has few redeeming qualities and is bad through and through. The relationship between the two, Riling had actually invited Garry to join him, knowing what an expert he was with a gun, is the crux of the film. The story about the feud between the homesteaders, pawns for Riling, and the ranchers is a superficial one. Character studies make the movie worthwhile.

Walter Brennan as Kris Barden, a homesteader fooled by Riling for awhile, has a pivotal role showing how Riling's double dealings and egomania eventually catch up with him and destroy him. "One may smile, and smile, and be a villain" only so long. Barden is a counterpart to Garry's character. Frank Faylen, as Indian agent Jake Pindalest, in collusion with Riling's schemes for self-aggrandizement, on the other hand represents a counterpart to Riling's character.

The title is one of the best ever for a western. Supersitition has it that when there is blood on the moon (a particular atmospheric appearance of the moon), it's a sign that someone is going to be killed. When I was a boy one of my friend's dads operated a movie theater. He had accumulated a closet full of movie posters over the years. One day he was cleaning out his closets and asked me if I wanted the old posters. I eagerly latched on to them. Two posters impressed me above all the others. One was " The Grapes of Wrath" poster; the other was the "Blood on the Moon" one. Something about those titles and the art work on the posters grabbed my mind and my imagination. I didn't get to see either film for many years, eventually seeing them on TV. To me the magic of the posters matched the magic of the movies.

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