The Moonlighter re-unites the stars of the great film noir Double Indemnity but to much less effect in this modest and rather tepid Western. Fred MacMurray plays the title character ,a moonlighter being a kind of cattle thief.As the movie opens he is in a prison cell awaiting trial while an inflamed mob is intent on lynching him before he can stand trial.They break into the gaol and summarily execute the wrong man due to mistaken identity. He sets out to wreak revenge on the killers but is wounded and returns home where he finds his sweetheart -played by Stanwyck-on the verge of marrying his bank teller brother.He becomes involved in a bank robbery with tragic results and Stanwyck sets out to bring him to justice.
The performances are acceptable and the major problem is the script by Niven Busch which -perhaps through budgetary and time constraints -never gets to explore the ramifications of the story ,which ends abruptly.
A minor Western it just about passes muster but could have been a lot better.It is however interesting to note that the Stanwyck character is the one most respected by the other characters and the town Marshall has no qualms about deputising her .In addition it is she who delivers the goods --early feminist Western maybe ?
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