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Western noir

Sunday 3/29/20

Warner Brothers Home video is putting out Blu-rays of two Robert Mitchum films from 1948, Rachel and the Stranger and Blood on the Moon. I must try and run down review copies. I would like to write about these works, after having found a context within which to do so. The former has fifteen restored minutes that have not been seen in decades. I think what one might do is look at the inroads of noir, via German Expressionism--and it's the 100th anniversary of Caligari--and focus on RKO as a kind of noir central, where the noir ethos extended even to the Western, which is rare.

Blood on the Moon is the better film, directed by Robert Wise, who is utilizing what he learned from both Orson Welles and Val Lewton.

In fact, I'd argue that this is one of the better pictures of the time. There's so much value in concatenation and interpolation, when you have a work of art be multiple things at once, because that's how life is. That's how very little work of any kind is right now. It's how no writing is outside of mine. Blood on the Moon isn't like like any other Western, certainly. Noir ages well. There is that moment in a noir film when the protagonist has to make a choice, and that choice will determine much, not just life-wise, but identity-wise, or lack of identity-wise; the forfeiture of identity. We do a lot of that now. It's a play-not-to-lose culture, whereas in these films, the Mitchum characters risk something. I want that resonance with now, if you will, and, more than now, let's say the after-now. I never just write about a film, no matter how well or definitively. That's not what I'm ever looking to do.


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