A so-so Western that benefits from the star power of its two leads, The Moonlighter was shot in 3-D, but to no discernible effect; aside from a few obvious "at the camera" moments, there's little here to differentiate it from a regular 2-D affair. Indeed, there's little to differentiate it from any number of Westerns. Niven Busch's screenplay makes a few stabs at trying something different; the moonlighter "occupation" of the main character, for example, is not something one sees in many films, and his desire to acquire a decent funeral for an innocent man hanged for his own moonlighting crimes has potential. But Busch doesn't really do enough with these ideas, and instead falls back on formula situations and stock characters. Roy Rowland's direction doesn't improve matters. It's not bad, and in some places, such as the confrontation between Barbara Stanwyck and Ward Bond, is quite good; but it rarely feels like Rowland was really very interested in what he was shooting. Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, fortunately, have a great chemistry together, and they handle their roles with great skill. Bond is also quite good, and the supporting cast in general is an asset.
by Craig Butler review