Moonrise (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Borzage
Produced by Charles Haas
Screenplay by Charles F. Haas
Based on the novel Moonrise 
by Theodore Strauss
Starring Dane Clark
Gail Russell
Ethel Barrymore
Music by William Lava
Cinematography John L. Russell
Edited by Harry Keller
Marshall Grant Pictures
Chas. K. Feldman Group
Republic Pictures
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release dates
  • October 1, 1948 (1948-10-01) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Moonrise is a black-and-white 1948 film noir directed by Frank Borzage and starring Dane Clark, Gail Russell and Ethel Barrymore.[1]


Dane Clark plays Danny Hawkins, the son of a murderer who was hanged for his crimes. Haunted by his father's past, the young man is tormented by the young people of the small southern town in which he lives. Hawkins' only friend is Gilly Johnson (Russell), a girl who is quickly falling in love with him. When Hawkins kills a bully in self-defense, he fears the same fate as his father. When the dead body is found and Sheriff Clem Otis (Allyn Joslyn) starts closing in, Danny becomes crazed. He jumps off a Ferris wheel and nearly strangles a harmless mute (Morgan) who found Hawkins' pocket knife near the body. While hiding out in the swamps, Hawkins visits his Grandma (Barrymore) who tells him the truth about his father's crime. Hawkins realizes he's not tainted by "bad blood" and turns himself in to the police.



According to film critic Dennis Schwartz, director Frank Borzage was known for his romantic melodramas and the film was "made on a low-budget for Republic, which was an unusual choice for the studio to make since they're known mostly for their serials, action and Western films. This was Borzage's last film until his 1958 China Doll. The blacklist forced him into a decade of no work. The next year he directed his last film, The Big Fisherman (1959).[2]


Critical response[edit]

Schwartz gave the film a positive review, writing, "It's a grim melodrama that feels tragically realistic, touching on the raw nerves of the brooding accused murderer who has been forced into violence and going on-the-run because his tormentors have rattled him. The film's beauty lies in Borzage's overpowering visual mise-en-scene, making the film a character study as the protagonist wrestles with his inner conflicts between the peaceful and wrathful deities. ... Spiritual ideals such as transformational love are the very things the director, himself, finds very dear in his real life."[3]


Nomination: Moonrise received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording (Daniel J. Bloomberg) in 1948.[4]


  1. ^ Moonrise at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 11, 2005. Accessed: July 12, 2013.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ibid.
  4. ^ "The 21st Academy Awards (1949) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-18. 

External links[edit]