Moonrise | Chicago Reader

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90 minutes
Frank Borzage's last masterpiece (1948) and one of his best-known films, although in many ways it's atypical of his work. Made on a middling budget for Republic Pictures—the studio of serials and cowboys—the film adopts a rich and elaborate expressionist style; with its shadows and tension-racked frames, it resembles no other film in the Borzage canon. The social conflicts that plagued Borzage's spiritually attuned lovers in earlier films here become psychological ones, as a young man (Dane Clark) fights to overcome his “bad blood”—his father was a convicted killer. Still, the Borzagian principle of transcendence applies, expressed through a complex mise-en-scene centered on circular camera movements. The earlier, disappointing Smiling Through (1941)—with its image of a blocking, ever-present past—seems a rough draft for this final achievement.

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