Moonrise ★★★★½

The shadows of film noir may grow long in the city but it's nothing compared to the darkness of the rural south.

Danny Hawkins has been plagued by bullies his whole life; his criminal father's conviction and execution is forever hanging over him like a curse. One night the boiling point is reached. In a fit of uncontrollable rage, when trying to fend for himself, he kills his long time upper class tormentor Jerry Sykes.
His sweetheart Gilly Johnson soon realizes that something is wrong and that the law is on Danny's trail. Trapped in Hicktown USA, surrounded by hostile swamps, desperation is starting to set in.

Moonrise came out of nowhere with it's seductive alluring components of everything southern and everything gothic.
Since, for some inexplicable reason, Moonrise isn't a very well known piece of film noir history my expectations were non existing.

Not only is it overall visually innovative and stunning, it also pre-dates the much more known and celebrated, yet stylistically and aesthetically very similar, Night of the Hunter by seven years. Besides the murky dark scenery and an atmosphere to die for it features a pretty complex story and a very complex protagonist. Sure many of you will (just like me) from time to time feel a strong urge to leap through the screen and slap some sense into the often annoying and frankly quite unlikable character Danny Hawkins (perfectly played by Dane Clark). But in a way his flaws in character only makes the dynamics and grittiness of the film even greater.

Besides that it's a near flawless, haunting, otherworldly, dreamy, dark, unconventional, original, bleak and yet romantic noir.

It also gets one extra plus for the proud and independent character 'Mose' played by Rex Ingram; it wasn't often a black character was portrayed with so much natural integrity and respect back in the 40s.

Mathias liked this review