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Moonrise (1948)

Passed  -  Crime | Drama | Film-Noir  -  1 October 1948 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 779 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 19 critic

Danny is being despised by his schoolmates because his father was accused to have killed another man and is condemned to the death penalty.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Title: Moonrise (1948)

Moonrise (1948) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Danny Hawkins
Gail Russell ...
Gilly Johnson
Allyn Joslyn ...
Sheriff Clem Otis
Billy Scripture (as Henry Morgan)
David Street ...
Ken Williams
Selena Royle ...
Aunt Jessie
Jimmy Biff
Irving Bacon ...
Judd Jenkins
Jerry Sykes
Houseley Stevenson ...
Uncle Joe Jingle
Phil Brown ...
Elmer - Soda Jerk
Harry Cheshire ...
J.B. Sykes (as Harry V. Cheshire)
Lila Leeds ...


Danny Hawkins, who lives in a psychological shadow because his father died by a hangman's noose, accidentally kills a man in a fight over a girl, Gilly Johnson, and is afraid to notify the police. He wins the love of the girl but when she tries to influence him to admit his guilt, he runs away. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

killer | guilt | son | con game | murder weapon | See more »




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 October 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Borzage's Moonrise  »

Box Office


$849,452 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Moonrise Song (It Just Dawned On Me)
Lyrics by Harry Tobias
Music by William Lava
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the most beautiful American films
16 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Moonrise is made with such care. It is visually both expressive and restrained. It exhibits a remarkable feel for nuance in language (the words of the soda jerk who constantly speaks in late '30's hipster slang being the most obvious sign of this). The film is morally complex and avoids any easy resolutions. For example, Dane Clark as Danny Hawkins seems genuinely disturbed and doesn't turn this into some kind of Ray Milland/James Dean tour de force. Probably he didn't have the chops. But still, this is one of the most affecting things about the film: his hurt goes so deep, neither friendship nor love nor pleasure nor any sense of purpose can really sway it. His emotional violence seems so chimerical that it barely feels like "acting". Rex Ingram as Mose plays his role with an enormous sense of gravitas and dignity, something one rarely sees in Black characters in films of this period. He enables, sure, but he also speaks in his own voice. This is consistent with the film's palpably Southern, swampy atmosphere - it is amazing how Borzage can make studio sets speak like that.The brilliant expressionist opening is often remarked upon, but I also love the elegant, understated crane shot that privileges the couple's ghostly, beautiful dance in the abandoned mansion. And Moonrise (like Murnau's Sunrise, Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, Sirk's Tarnished Angels, Lewis' Gun Crazy, Siegel's The Lineup etc.) makes use of the beloved German Expressionist trope which counterpoises the calculated mass entertainment of Carnivals with the particularity of an individual's crisis or tragedy. I wish there was a whole study written on this theme. While on this subject, I just want to say a little more about the traces of other films I perceive here. Moonrise's connection to Night of the Hunter has often been noted, and the debt to Murnau and Sunrise seems obvious, although Borzage was making a couple of his greatest films at the same moment Murnau was making his masterpiece (both were using Janet Gaynor as their star). One small caveat: I find the ending of this film perhaps a little abrupt, but it is consistent with the film's "moral universe". Which is not too high - faluting a term to use while speaking of this film. Moonrise is a minor masterpiece - why isn't it better known?

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