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The Moonlighter (1953)

5.9
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Title: The Moonlighter (1953)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Rela
...
Wes Anderson
...
Cole Gardner
William Ching ...
Tom Anderson
John Dierkes ...
Sheriff Daws
Morris Ankrum ...
Alexander Prince
...
Slim
Charles Halton ...
Clemmons Usqubaugh - Undertaker
...
Tidy
Sam Flint ...
Mr. Mott - Bank President
Myra Marsh ...
Mrs. Anderson
William Kerwin ...
Tony
Tom Keene ...
Sheriff (as Richard Powers)
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Storyline

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Taglines:

The beam of the moon - the scream of a woman - the savage meeting of "The Moonlighter" and his Midnight Lady! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Romance | Western

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

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Release Date:

19 September 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le voleur de minuit  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Warner Bros. also released this movie in 3-D. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A 3D disaster - dreadful, dreary and demoralising
3 April 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I can't recall the last time I watched a film that so poorly served its stars.

I can only imagine that Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray went home every evening, locked the door, pulled the shades and bawled their eyes out over THE MOONLIGHTER. It's a truly demoralising viewing experience so I can only imagine how terrible it must have been to actually work on it.

Writer Niven Busch has given them practically every cliché in the Western genre to mouth, and he's so intent in cramming in every last hoary phrase that he doesn't even bother to ensure that it at least makes sense. In too many scenes Stanwyck and MacMurray appear to be talking across one another, reciting lines that have very little to do with what the other just said to them.

This 1953 film is a tragic comedown for two stars who had set the screen alight 9 years earlier with their unforgettable portrayals of a weak willed insurance salesman and a murderously cold-blooded femme fatale in 'Double Indemnity.' If they'd never done anything else that film would assure them of a place in movie history, and after scaling those heights it can be difficult to understand why they would willingly plumb the depths with this sub-standard turkey.

The answer, I'm guessing, is money and the need to earn a paycheck. In the early 1950s westerns were often the last stop before the despised medium of television for film stars on the slide (even Claudette Colbert made a western!). Neither Stanwyck nor MacMurray were box office hits anymore and I imagine they were grateful to accept the script when it was offered to them.

One senses they both went into the project with the best intentions but neither of them sounds remotely convincing regurgitating the abysmal dialogue and there's absolutely no sense of the smoldering passion supposedly burning between them. MacMurray speaks mostly in a high pitch monotone while Stanwyck operates on autopilot. Given that this is the great Barbara Stanwyck it's high quality autopilot - better than many other actors on their best day - but still far beneath what's she's capable of.

This black and white movie was originally released in 3D but it's hard to tell (I watched it in 2D) just how much use director Roy Rowland made of the special effect. Nothing comes flying out of the screen and there's few shots that would have benefited from the extra depth that 3D offers. My best guess, based on the slightly unusual lighting in some medium close up scenes of the two stars in a clinch, is that they would have appeared to be in front of the screen with the background further behind them than it actually was. If I'm right, it's really not worth the price of a pair of 3D specs.

Unconvincing, implausible, boring, clichéd, embarrassing, demoralising and just downright bad, THE MOONLIGHTER is truly terrible in every regard and a stain on the reputation of its illustrious stars. The only saving grace is that it is almost completely forgotten today. I only wish I could erase it from my memory.

Read more of my reviews at http://thefilmivejustseen.blogspot.com/


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