5.8/10
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The Moonlighter (1953)

Approved | | Western | 19 September 1953 (USA)
A cattle herder turned rustler runs from a lynch mob and falls, again, for an ex-lover.

Director:

Roy Rowland

Writer:

Niven Busch (story and screenplay)
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Cast

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

In the early 1900s, Wes Anderson is arrested for night-time cattle rustling (moonlighting). He had been gone from his home town for five years, leaving his sweetheart, Rela, to wait for him. Wes' brother, Tom, has chosen a different path in life and works as a teller in a bank in Rio Hondo. Tom is in-love with Rela and he pressures her to marry him in Wes' absence. Languishing in a sheriff's jail, Wes is awaiting trial, which promises to be a fair one, at least according to the town sheriff. But an angry lynch mob of local ranchers agitate in front of the jail, swinging a hanging rope and hankering for Wes' blood. When the sheriff leaves his jail for a lunch-break, the mob breaks into the jail, grabs an imprisoned hobo by mistake and hangs him. The lynch-mob believes to have hung Wes but he is safe, in jail. After he escapes from jail, Wes vows revenge on the members of the lynch mob. During the following days, Wes raids the ranches of those who participated in the lynch mob. He burns... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le voleur de minuit See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to a contemporary article in the Los Angeles Times, Alan Ladd and Kirk Douglas were being considered for the male lead in this film. See more »

Goofs

The sheriff and deputy go together for a meal and leave the old man turnkey while there is a mob outside the jail. Then when the turnkey runs out the back to get the sheriff some of the lynch party easily overpower the lawmen and get the sheriff to identify the rustler's cell. The sheriff talked pretty tough before heading out for a meal. See more »

Quotes

Rela: You've changed, Wes.
Wes Anderson: Nobody stays the same.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits roll up from behind the scene of mountains, and include "Photographed in Natural Vision 3 Dimension", See more »

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User Reviews

 
Set Off No Sparks
8 April 2012 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

One wonders why Warner Brothers chose to make The Moonlighter in 3-D and yet not bother with color. That almost to me seems self defeating if you're trying to lure people out of their homes and away from their television screens.

And why do this on a minor western? Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck who made the classic Double Indemnity for Paramount almost a decade earlier set off no sparks in The Moonlighter. MacMurray is in the title role and when one is a Moonlighter one is a cattle rustler who plies his trade during the evening hours. Either way it can get you lynched as a mob from the town where MacMurray is in jail does, but to the wrong guy thinking it's him.

Which allows him to take some revenge on those that wanted to do him in, like Clint Eastwood in Hang 'Em High. Still a wanted man Fred goes back to the old home town where he wants to take up bank robbery and visit his sweetheart Barbara Stanwyck. But she's now seeing his brother William Ching.

Nevertheless Fred does attempt a robbery with old outlaw colleague Ward Bond. After that the plot gets so ridiculous that I almost dare you to see it.

In color it would have been better, but there is a nice sequence at a waterfall involving the stars that must have been great in 3-D. But for my money it's not enough to make up for a really ridiculous plot in a film that neither star thought highly of.


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