A deeply upsetting, visually-astounding Borzage noir, with murderer’s son Dane Clark killing his long-time tormenter (Lloyd Bridges) in self-defence, then starting to stew in guilt and fear.
It’s an unfolding nightmare full of the most extraordinary, dream-like imagery, kicking off with an astonishing opening 15 in which the director drags Republic Pictures into the realm of art. And it’s also thematically fascinating, full of difficult characters and governed by a rich sense of humanity that finds shape in a complex and troubling moral code.
Moonrise turned me into an instant fan of Clark, a life decision that has not otherwise paid off. With about 12 minutes to go, Ethel Barrymore turns up and gives one of the greatest performances in American cinema (anticipating the pyrotechnics of one Lillian Gish in The Night of the Hunter).
In my top three noirs.