Friday, May 26, 2017

Blood on the Moon

Blood on the Moon. Phyllis Thaxter, Barbara Bel Geddes, Charles McGraw.

Blood on the Moon. Phyllis Thaxter, Robert Mitchum

Blood on the Moon. Charles McGraw, Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes.

Blood on the Moon. Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Mitchum.

Blood on the Moon. Barbara Bel Geddes, Bud Osborne, Tom Tully, Robert Mitchum.

Blood on the Moon. Phyllis Thaxter, Robert Preston. The cattle baron's daughter Carol has a love affair with her father's worst enemy, Tate Riling. But when Carol finds out that Tate is swindling everybody, including her, she lashes him on the face with her horse whip.

Verinen kuu / Blod på månen. US © 1948 RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. EX: Sid Rogell. P: Theron Warth. D: Robert Wise. SC: Lillie Hayward – adaptation: Harold Shumate, Luke Short – based on the novel Gunman’s Chance (1941) by Luke Short. CIN: Nicholas Musuraca. AD: Albert S. D’Agostino, Walter E. Keller. Set dec: James Altwies, Darrell Silvera. SFX: Russell A. Cully. Cost: Edward Stevenson. Makeup: Gordon Bau. Hair: Hazel Rogers. M: Roy Webb. S: John L. Cass, Terry Kellum. ED: Samuel E. Beetley.
    C: Robert Mitchum (Jim Garry), Barbara Bel Geddes (Amy Lufton), Robert Preston (Tate Riling), Walter Brennan (Kris Barden), Phyllis Thaxter (Carol Lufton), Frank Faylen (Jake Pindalest), Tom Tully (John Lufton), Charles McGraw (Milo Sweet), Clifton Young (Joe Shotten), Tom Tyler (Frank Reardan), George Cooper (Fred Barden), Tom Keene (Ted Elser), Bud Osborne (Cap Willis), Zon Murray (Nels Titterton), Robert Bray (Bart Daniels), Harry Carey, Jr. (cowboy).
    Loc: Sedona (Arizona), Iverson Ranch and RKO Encino Ranch (Los Angeles), Calabasas and Monogram Ranch (California) 
    US premiere: 9.11.1948. Helsinki premiere: 16.6.1950 Astor, distributor: RKO Radio Pictures Incorporation – tv: Yle TV2 1.12.2002 etc. – VET 30553 – K12 – 86, 87, 88, 94 min
    A BFI Distribution print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Robert Mitchum Centenary), 26 May 2017

About the title. "There is something called blood on the moon" and that is when there is a large red ring around the moon giving it a red appearance. The moon will pass completely into the shadow of the Earth producing a striking total lunar eclipse. The total phase throws an eerie reddish colour across the face of the moon. The Earth's atmosphere acts like a prism, bending a little sunlight into the shadow and giving it a copper tint. In essence, what falls on the eclipsed moon is the light of all the sunsets and sunrises on Earth." It's also something that's suppose to happen before the 'end of days' in the Bible. "The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes”" Ashish Warude, Employed and Mental Maniac, but otherwise a real Catch. Updated 12 Sep 2016

What some says or thinks when they are killing mad. It means that you will spill so much of there blood and so violently that some of it will land on the moon. "Those gangbangers killed my homey. There will be blood on the moon!" by Deep blue 2012, May 11, 2010

AA: In our Robert Mitchum Centenary tribute we screened Blood on the Moon which I saw for the first time although it has been often telecast in Finland. "That is the goddamnedest realest cowboy I've ever seen!" was Walter Brennan's comment on Mitchum as Jim Garry in this film. In five years Mitchum had appeared in some 30 films, including Westerns, among them several Hopalong Cassidy adventures. And war films, such as Story of G.I. Joe. Mitchum's breakthrough came with film noir (Undercurrent, The Locket, Crossfire, Desire Me, Out of the Past).

The Western and film noir were Mitchum's strongest genres at the time. Pursued, made the year before, was a combination of the two, and so was Blood on the Moon. The story is a variation of a basic Western situation (the war between cattleowners and homesteaders), but the power of darkness is exceptionally menacing in this outdoors adventure. There is a sense of the metaphysical in it.

Written by Lillie Hayward, Blood on the Moon features prominent female roles. Barbara Bel Geddes stars as Amy Lufton, the cattle owner's daughter. When Amy meets Jim the battle of wills begins at once as they start to shoot at each other. During the course of the narrative Jim gets to save Amy's life, and later it's Amy's turn to first heal (see images above) and finally save the perilously hurt Jim. In the finale there is a sense of a real possibility of Jim and Amy meeting each other as equals.

William K. Everson praised the screenplay of Blood on the Moon and compared it with William S. Hart's Westerns. Indeed, like Hart's films this movie could also be called "a soul fight". Blood on the Moon is a twilight story, an ordeal in the dark night of the soul. From the beginning, with the lone rider seeking shelter in the rain by nightfall and being almost trampled to death by stampeding cattle, there is a fight with the elements. Later, when Jim captures the crooked Indian agent Jake Pindalest (Frank Faylen), they face a snowstorm.

The sense of menace and mortal danger is omnipresent. The cattle owner Lufton's (Tom Tully) attitude is openly hostile ("work for me or clear out"). Jim plans to work as a gunman for his friend Riling (Robert Preston) who has organized the homesteaders against Lufton, but in the end it turns out that Riling is about to swindle everybody.

Blood on the Moon is a violent film, and there is a sense of real pain and suffering in the fights. A turning-point of the film is the death of the son of Kris Barden. Walter Brennan's performance is moving as he conveys the sense of loss of Kris Barden who has recently lost his wife and now his only son. Brennan may be best known for his comical roles, but he is even better in this serious part.

Like in Out of the Past, the cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca creates a vision of "outdoors noir", as James Wong Howe, too, had done in Pursued. The clouds in the sky are ominous. The landscape is full of warning shadows.

Robert Wise had edited high profile RKO films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Citizen Kane before being promoted to directing four years ago, excelling in Val Lewton's unit. In Blood on the Moon, his first A budget film, he was in top form, working with the trusted RKO team, including the art director Albert S. D’Agostino and the composer Roy Webb. Blood on the Moon shares the distinction of the best Westerns of having a cast where even the supporting parts are intriguing. For instance it is affecting to see the character of Frank Reardan played by Tom Tyler, a Western veteran, also known as Captain Marvel ("Shazam!") and The Phantom. Having been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis he had to quit superhero roles but continued in supporting roles in A-list films, including those by John Ford.

André Bazin saw in the Western our counterpart to the epic and tragic poetry of classical Greece. No year is given to the events portrayed in Blood on the Moon but presumably it is a story of the classical Wild West (which covered some three decades after the American Civil War). A period of turmoil and chaos during which concepts such as justice, society, dignity and a good life collapsed and needed to be reinvented. Blood on the Moon is an original and inventive work in such most profound aspects of the Western.

A print that is clean and complete at 88 minutes yet with a slight sense of being duplicated in a way that does not perfectly convey Musuraca's highly challenging dark imagery.


Robert Wise (1914–2005) sai lentävän lähdön uralleen RKO-studiolla Citizen Kanen (1941) leikkaajana. Ohjaajadebyyttinsä Wise sai samalla yhtiöllä Val Lewtonin kolmessa hienostuneessa tuotannossa (Mademoiselle Fifi ja Kissaihmisten kirous, 1944, ja Pahan vallassa / The Body Snatcher, 1945). A Game of Death (1945) oli uudelleenfilmatisointi legendaarisesta kauhutarinasta Zaroffin koirat (The Most Dangerous Game). Wiselta sujui myös tyly film noir (Syntynyt tappamaan, 1947). Kaikki nämä elokuvat valmistuivat RKO:lle, ja Wiselle tulivat tutuiksi sen ammattilaismestarit, kuvaaja Nicholas Musuraca, säveltäjä Roy Webb ja lavastaja Albert S. D’Agostino.
    Wise sai ensimmäistä kertaa A-luokan budjetin kunnianhimoiseen lännenelokuvaansa Verinen kuu. RKO:n nouseviin tähtiin kuului Robert Mitchum, jolla oli studiolle seitsemänvuotinen sopimus. Verisessä kuussa Mitchum on Texasista saapunut muukalainen Jim Garry, joka temmataan mukaan karjatilallisen ja uudisraivaajien väliseen taisteluun. Tom Tully esittää karjatilallista John Luftonia, ja Robert Preston tulkitsee uudisraivaajien johtajaa Tate Rilingiä, jolla on myös omia intressejä lietsottavinaan. Kohokohtiin kuuluvat jännittävä takaa-ajo vuorilla, Garryn ja Rilingin poikkeuksellisen raju ja verinen nyrkkitappelu ja elokuvan huipentava revolveritaistelu.
    Tarina perustui Luke Shortin romaaniin, ja Wise osallistui tiettävästi Lillie Haywardin käsikirjoituksen kehittelyyn tiiviisti. William K. Everson on kutsunut Veristä kuuta ”yhdeksi 1940-luvun parhaiten kirjoitetuista lännenelokuvista” ja todennut, että siinä on ”samantapaista ankaruutta ja tiukkuutta kuin William S. Hartin mykkäelokuvissa”.
    Aikalaiskriitikko havaitsi, että Wise, ”vielä suhteellisesti katsoen vasta-alkaja ohjaajien rivistössä, onnistuu pitämään verkkaisesti etenevän elokuvan ladattuna uhkaavalla väkivallalla”. Richard Combs, kirjoittaessaan Verisestä kuusta 30 vuotta myöhemmin, arvioi, että tyylillisesti se ”ei onnistu täysin sovittamaan yhteen pyrkimyksiään kohdella lajia eleettömän tarkasti, antaa sijaa ’realismin’ purkauksille ja ottaa käyttöön interiöörien ’ekspressiivisiä’ valaistustehoja, jotka juontavat juurensa Wisen töihin Val Lewtonin tai jopa Orson Wellesin tuotannoissa”.

– John A. Gallagherin (World Film Directors Vol. 1, toim. John Wakeman, New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1987) ja muiden lähteiden mukaan AA 17.5.2017

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