Nicholas Musuraca's name remains unjustly obscure among the ranks of cinematographers from Hollywood's golden age. In his prime years at RKO during the 1940s, Musuraca shuttled back and forth between A- and B-films, prestige pictures, and genre potboilers. For this reason, and because many of the motion pictures photographed by Musuraca have attained a classic or landmark status only recently, he remains a neglected master.
Along with Gregg Toland's work on Citizen Kane (1941), Musuraca's cinematography for Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) defined the visual conventions for the film noir and codified the RKO look for the 1940s. Musuraca's photography begins and ends with shadows, owing a major debt to German Expressionism, and can be seen as the leading factor in the resurrection of the style in Hollywood in the 1940s. The dominant tone in his work is black, a stylistic bias that lent itself to the film noir and the moody horror films of Val Lewton.
But even within the confines of the studio system Musuraca succeeded in transposing his style to other genres. The western Blood on the Moon (1948) and George Stevens's nostalgic family drama I Remember Mama (1948) are both infused with the same shadowy visuals that Musuraca brought to the horror film in Cat People (1942) and the film noir in The Locket (1946). Through the conventions of varying genres and the differing requirements of numerous directors, Musuraca maintained a uniform personal aesthetic".