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Blood on the Moon

Year: 1948
Studio: RKO
Director: Robert Wise
Cast:
Robert Mitchum ... Jim Garry
Barbara Bel Geddes ... Amy Lufton
Robert Preston ... Tate Reiling
Walter Brennan ... Kris Barden
Phyllis Thaxter ... Carol Lufton
Frank Faylen ... Jake Pindalest
Charles McGraw ... Milo Sweet

Plot synopsis: Drifter Jim Garry is drawn into a range war between cattlemen and homesteaders in post-Civil War Utah. At first brought in on the side of the cattlemen by old friend Tate, he slowly starts to side with the homesteaders.

Verdict: A little-known gem of a film, with Mitchum in his element as the morally conflicted outsider. While not as noir-ish a western as Pursued, the camerawork of noted noir cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca (who lensed Out of the Past), makes the most of the film's black-and-white moodiness. A barroom brawl between Mitchum and Preston is a real standout.

Behind the Scenes: Robert Wise, who made his directorial debut with this film, told a Mitchum biographer that when co-star Walter Brennan, a veteran Western player, saw Mitchum in outfit for the first time in the scene depicted above, he said, That is the goddamnedest realest cowboy I've ever seen!"

Read more: Robert Mitchum, The Westerns