Blood on the Moon is a terse, tightly-drawn western drama. There’s none of the formula approach to its story telling. Picture captures the crisp style used by Luke Short in writing his western novels.
Plot deals with a Texas cowpoke who rides into a section of range country where ranchers and settlers are battling. Broke, he hires out his gun to an old friend, who is scheming with an Indian agent to acquire a cattle herd by promoting the feud.
Robert Mitchum is the cowpoke, a role he handles with skill under Robert Wise’s realistic direction. Barbara Bel Geddes registers strongly as the range heroine who first battles and then loves Mitchum. Robert Preston makes an oily villain, whose false charms fool Mitchum as well as the daughter of his chief rancher opponent, and the settlers.
Picture’s pace has a false sense of leisureliness that points up several tough moments of action. There is a deadly knock-down and drag-out fist fight between Mitchum and Preston; a long chase across snow-covered mountains and the climax gun battle between Preston’s henchmen and Mitchum, Brennan and Bel Geddes that are loaded with suspense wallop.