“I've been mixed up in a lot of things, Tate, but up to now, I've never been hired for my guns.”
Whenever I think of Film Noir I think of Out of the Past, Night of the Hunter, Laura, Daisy Kenyon, The Killers, Leave Her Heaven, Whirlpool, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Black Widow. I think of tough guys with guns roaming the streets of New York with revenge on their minds or poor everymen who have had a tough time and they get mixed up in something they never wanted. These films take place in cities where everything is gritty and fast paced. Never in a million years would I have thought a Noir could take place in the Midwest with cowboys and ranchers. One such western Noir is Blood on the Moon starring a recurrent Film Noir actor Robert Mitchum.
Jim Carry (Mitchum) is heading out to an old friend of his named Tate. He was just about to camp out for the night when a herd of cattle come stampeding towards him. He manages to get up into a tree before he is crushed. In the chaos he loses his horse and all his camping equipment. A man comes by and makes Jim follow him to his camp. The leader of the group is a man named Lufton. They are having trouble with a rancher who has kicked Lufton off the Indian reservation where his cattle feed. Lufton tells Jim his house is near the basin and for him to go there. As Jim is riding by the basin he is shot at. He finds out the shooter is one of Lufton’s daughter’s named Amy (Barbara Bel Geddes). She keeps shooting at him before her brother stops Jim.
The bad guy Milo hears that Jim has been asking for Tate. Milo thinks Jim is a cattle detective. Jim is only looking for a job he is not in town to be on anyone’s side. Eventually Jim gets into a shoot out with some of Milo’s men. Tate has been working with Milo. He gets his information about where Lufton and his group will be from Lufton’s other daughter Carol who is in love him. Tate recognizes Jim in the shoot out and tells his men to stop firing. When the two former friends are alone Tate tells Jim that Lufton is the enemy the government has been working to get Lufton off the reservation. Tate has the plan to corner Lufton and then buy his cattle cheap. He has told the men that they are fighting for their own land when in reality they will not be getting any.
Carol and Tate meet secretly at a small house. Carol knows what Tate does. She was trying to make her father see both sides. She gets information out of her father. Everyone thinks Jim was the one to gave away the information of where Lufton would be. Lufton tells Amy he has Jim pegged as the spy all along. Jim winds up saving Lufton and Amy from two of Tate’s men in town. He leaves after this so he will not cause or become entangled in anymore trouble. Tate catches up with Jim in another town. They get into a fight and Jim beats Tate unconscious. One of Tate’s men goes to shoot Jim but he saved when a man named Kris shoots the guy.
After the fight Jim goes back to Lufton’s house. He wants to warn him of what had happened. He leaves again but this time Amy wants to go with him and follows. She wants Jim to go back and accept her father’s apology. Jim likes Amy and decides to go back yet again. Carol goes back to Tate. She has learned the truth about him through Jim. Tate is not denying what he is doing. She feels used and upset.
Now Tate is desperate for the land. He has his men surround Lufton’s house. He is looking for a shoot out with Jim.
Blood on the Moon was alright. I liked the Noir feel of it. I never knew before this that there was such a thing as a western Film Noir. Robert Mitchum was perfect for his part. To me, besides Dana Andrews, he is the male face of Film Noir. Mitchum did not over act he always seemed calm and cool. Blood on the Moon, to me, was a boring story but to see a Film Noir set in a western made it interesting to watch. Blood on the Moon is not available to watch through Youtube and it is not available to own on DVD in the US. Keep an eye out for it on TCM.