Moonrise (film)

Last updated

Moonrise (1948 film poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Borzage
Screenplay by Charles F. Haas
Based onthe novel Moonrise
by Theodore Strauss
Produced byCharles F. Haas
Starring Dane Clark
Gail Russell
Ethel Barrymore
Cinematography John L. Russell
Edited by Harry Keller
Music by William Lava
Color process Black and white
Marshall Grant
Chas. K. Feldman Group Productions
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release date
  • September 9, 1948 (1948-09-09)(Los Angeles)
  • October 1, 1948 (1948-10-01)(United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$849,452 [1]

Moonrise is a 1948 American film noir crime film directed by Frank Borzage starring Dane Clark, Gail Russell and Ethel Barrymore. [2] It is based on the 1946 novel of the same name by Theodore Strauss. The plot concerns the son of a man who was hanged for murder, leading to his own bullying and subsequent trials when he commits a crime in self-defense.



In December 1945, Paramount Pictures purchased the rights to adapt Theodore Strauss's yet-to-be-released novel, which was serialized by Cosmopolitan in August and September 1946, and published as a book that October. [3] Two independent producers purchased the film rights from Paramount, and reportedly spent $40,000 on advertising for the novel. The duo was unable to secure a completion bond, and were sued by William Wellman, whom they had hired as the film's director. [3]

The film was ultimately made by Republic Pictures with Frank Borzage as director. It was a relatively high-budget film compared to Republic's Westerns, which usually cost around $50,000. [3]


In a small Virginia town, Danny Hawkins (Dane Clark) is the son of a murderer who was hanged for his crime. Throughout his childhood, he is haunted by his father's past and cruelly harassed by other children. As an adult, Danny is bullied by Jerry Sykes (Lloyd Bridges). After a particularly intense confrontation in the woods during a town dance, Danny and Jerry fight and Danny kills him in self-defense. Danny is unaware that he lost his pocket knife in the struggle. Danny then dances with Gilly Johnson (Gail Russell), who was to be engaged to Jerry. While driving Gilly and two of their friends, Danny struggles with his guilt, and drives recklessly in the rain, crashing.

Gilly finds herself responding warmly to Danny's advances, even as she puzzles over Jerry's disappearance. After a few days, the body is found, and Sheriff Clem Otis (Allyn Joslyn) starts closing in on the culprit. Thinking the sheriff has placed the blame on someone else, Danny goes to the fair with Gilly, but panics when Otis appears and seems to discover his guilt. The harmless mute Billy Scripture (Harry Morgan) shows Danny that he has found his pocket knife, leading Danny to nearly strangle him. After hiding out at the swampy residence of the wise Mose Jackson, Danny visits his grandmother (Barrymore), who reveals that his father was in Danny's same remorseful position after his crime. Danny realizes he is not tainted by "bad blood" and turns himself in, giving him a more optimistic future.



The film flopped at the box office. [3] The New York Times wrote that "the book towers above the picture" despite the latter's fidelity to the source. [3]


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

Home media release

Moonrise was released on DVD and Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection on May 8, 2018. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

Harry Morgan American actor

Harry Morgan was an American actor and director whose television and film career spanned six decades. Morgan's major roles included Pete Porter in both December Bride (1954–1959) and Pete and Gladys (1960–1962); Officer Bill Gannon on Dragnet (1967–1970); Amos Coogan on Hec Ramsey (1972–1974); and his starring role as Colonel Sherman T. Potter in M*A*S*H (1975–1983) and AfterMASH (1983–1985). Morgan also appeared in more than 100 films.

<i>Tortilla Flat</i> (film) 1942 film by Victor Fleming

Tortilla Flat is a 1942 American romantic comedy film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, John Garfield, Frank Morgan, Akim Tamiroff, and Sheldon Leonard based on the 1935 novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. Frank Morgan received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his poignant portrayal of The Pirate.

<i>The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story</i> 1990 television film directed by Jack Bender

The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story is a 1990 American made-for-television biographical film starring John Ritter as Lyman Frank Baum, the author who wrote the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and thirteen other Oz books. Also starring in it were Annette O'Toole as Baum's supportive wife, Maud, and Rue McClanahan as Baum's tough mother-in-law, Matilda Gage. John's son, Jason Ritter, makes his debut in it as Harry Neal Baum. At the time of its debut, O'Toole and Ritter also starred in It, a TV miniseries in which they played a couple.

Allyn Joslyn

Allyn Joslyn was an American stage, radio, television and film actor, known for his roles playing aristocratic wealthy snobs.

Dane Clark American film actor (1912–1998)

Dane Clark was an American character actor who was known for playing, as he labeled himself, "Joe Average."

<i>The Breaking Point</i> (1950 film) 1950 film by Michael Curtiz

The Breaking Point is a 1950 American film noir crime drama directed by Michael Curtiz and the second film adaptation of the 1937 Ernest Hemingway novel To Have and Have Not. It stars John Garfield and Patricia Neal.

<i>They Wont Forget</i> 1937 film

They Won't Forget is a 1937 American drama film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Edward Norris, and Lana Turner, in her feature debut. It was based on a novel by Ward Greene called Death in the Deep South, which was in turn a fictionalized account of a real-life case: the trial and subsequent lynching of Leo Frank after the murder of Mary Phagan in 1913.

<i>The Visitation</i> (film) 2006 American film

The Visitation is a 2006 American supernatural thriller/horror film which was directed by Robby Henson, and starring Kelly Lynch, Edward Furlong, Priscilla Barnes and Martin Donovan. It was based on the novel by Frank Peretti of the same name.

<i>Immortal Sergeant</i> 1943 film by John M. Stahl

Immortal Sergeant is a 1943 American war film directed by John M. Stahl for 20th Century Fox. Set in the North African desert during World War II, it stars Henry Fonda as a corporal lacking in confidence in both love and war, Maureen O'Hara as his girlfriend, and Thomas Mitchell as the title character. The film was based on the 1942 novel of the same name by John Brophy.

<i>No Time for Comedy</i> 1940 American film

No Time for Comedy is a 1940 American comedy-drama film based on the play of the same name by S. N. Behrman, starring James Stewart, Rosalind Russell, Genevieve Tobin and Charlie Ruggles.

<i>Fast and Furious</i> (1939 film) 1939 film by Busby Berkeley

Fast and Furious is a 1939 American mystery comedy film directed by Busby Berkeley. The film stars Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern as Joel and Garda Sloane, a crime-solving married couple who are also rare book dealers. It is the last of a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer trilogy, along with Fast Company (1938) and Fast and Loose (1939). However, different actors played the couple each time.

King of Alcatraz is a 1938 American drama film directed by Robert Florey and starring Gail Patrick, Lloyd Nolan and Harry Carey. It was the film debut of Robert Preston.

<i>The Californians</i> (TV series)

The Californians is a half-hour Western television series, set during the San Francisco gold rush of the 1850s, which was broadcast by NBC from September 24, 1957, to May 26, 1959, for 69 episodes.

Onest Conley American actor

Onest Conley was an American film actor.

<i>Blake of Scotland Yard</i> (1937 film) 1937 American film directed by Robert F. Hill

Blake of Scotland Yard is a 1937 Victory Pictures American film serial directed by Robert F. Hill. The serial was also edited down into a feature film version.

Gail Morgan Hickman is an American producer and writer of film and television.

It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog is a 1946 American comedy crime film directed by Herbert I. Leeds and starring Carole Landis, Allyn Joslyn and Margo Woode.

<i>Undercover Doctor</i> 1939 film by Louis King

Undercover Doctor is a 1939 American crime film directed by Louis King, written by William R. Lipman and Horace McCoy, and starring Lloyd Nolan, Janice Logan, J. Carrol Naish, Heather Angel, Broderick Crawford and Robert Wilcox. It was released on June 9, 1939, by Paramount Pictures.

<i>Dangerous Blondes</i> 1943 film by Leigh Jason

Dangerous Blondes is a 1943 American comedy film directed by Leigh Jason and written by Richard Flournoy and Jack Henley.The film stars Allyn Joslyn and Evelyn Keyes, and was released by Columbia Pictures in September 1943. Alternate titles for this film were Reckless Lady and The Case of the Dangerous Blondes. A review in Vanity Fair review characterized the film as a "laugh-packed session here via the antics of Allyn Joslyn and Evelyn Keyes."

<i>Philo Vances Secret Mission</i> 1947 film directed by Reginald Le Borg

Philo Vance's Secret Mission is a 1947 American mystery film directed by Reginald Le Borg and starring Alan Curtis, Sheila Ryan and Tala Birell. It was part of a series of films featuring the detective Philo Vance made during the 1930s and 1940s.


  1. Flynn, Charles; McCarthy, Todd (1975). "The Economic Imperative: Why Was the B Movie Necessay?". In Flynn, Charles; McCarthy, Todd (eds.). Kings of the Bs : working within the Hollywood system : an anthology of film history and criticism. E. P. Dutton. p. 30.
  2. Moonrise at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Römers, Holger (February 2007). "'The Moral of the Auteur Theory': Frank Borzage's Moonrise (and Theodore Strauss' Source Novel)". Senses of Cinema . Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  4. "The 21st Academy Awards (1949) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  5. Bowen, Chuck. "Blu-ray Review: Frank Borzage's Moonrise on the Criterion Collection" . Retrieved April 17, 2021.