It seems hard to imagine that in the era of such great westerns as Shane and Wagonmaster a film like The Moonlighter could have been so lacking. This film is let down in nearly all of its scenes by its script. Yet while the script falters, Roy Rowland kind of saves the film through directing some interesting action scenes, including an opening lynching that is fairly riveting to watch, as well as a later fistfight between MacMurray and Ward Bond and horseback riding through a cascading waterfall, all done in decent black and white by ace cinematographer Bert Glennon. It's completely puzzling that the story behind the lynching is dropped in favor of the one about Fred, his brother, and Barbara Stanwyck, a strange love triangle. The roles of MacMurray and the actor who plays his brother should have been reversed, with the younger brother playing Fred's part as the moonlighter (cattle rustler) and Fred playing the loser bank clerk. Yet by the end of the film, it seemed at least slightly better than it was looking like it was going to be. Stanwyck looks convincing in a pretty decent rifle fight even if her affair with moonlighter Fred MacMurray is not anywhere near as hot as it was with him when they were in Double Indemnity.
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