Evelyn Y. from ABILENE, TX Reviewed on 9/12/2014...
I love Gregory Peck, but this movie just took too long to get going. Didn't feel good about the darkness of the story; kinda bloody for a family movie. Thanks.
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Eminently Worthy of Greater Appreciation
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 07/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
Note: Finally (!), this film will soon be available in a DVD format.
One of my several diversions is to compile different kinds of lists of films. For example, one is of under appreciated and probably seldom-seen westerns. This one is on the list. Directed by Robert Mulligan (who received an Academy Award for his brilliant directing of To Kill a Mockingbird), The Stalking Moon follows a classic plot line: good guys flee from one or more bad guys who pursue them until the final, inevitable confrontation. (Sound familiar?) In this instance, retired U.S. cavalry scout Sam Varner (Gregory Peck) agrees to assist with the rescue of prisoners from their Apache captors in Arizona Territory. For reasons best revealed during the course of the film, Varner assumes responsibility for Sarah Carver (Eva Marie Saint) and her 9-year son whose natural father is Salvaje (Nathaniel Narcsisco), an Apache warrior chief. They are accompanied by Nick Tana (Robert Forster), another cavalry scout who is half-breed and (in effect) Varner's adopted son. Unseen by us until the final confrontation (Mulligan's use of stealth is brilliant), Salvaje pursues them with rage and precision, killing everyone he encounters along the way. In the role of Varner, Peck demonstrates many of the same qualities we associate with him off screen as well as with his portrayal of Atticus Finch: dignified, intelligent, sensitive, practical, and decent. Of course, after a ten-year association with Salvaje, Sarah Carver fully understands what they are all up against. Meanwhile, their son's loyalty is obviously to his father. The final scenes are set in and near Varner's cabin in New Mexico to which he was in the process of retiring, intending to live his remaining years in peace and tranquility.
Again, I want to comment briefly on the fact that Salvaje is unseen by us until near the end of the film. This strategy increases substantially the progressive sense of terror we feel, as do Varner and his companions (except the boy). On occasion, the power of suggestion is far greater than anything we can visualize. Hence the prevalence of darkness in most horror films as well as the use of sounds (e.g. a child's scream, a gunshot, the release of a trap door on a scaffold during a public hanging), sounds with which we associate rather than actually see a physical object. As we watch The Stalking Moon, we JUST KNOW that Salvaje is nearby. His skills at stealth are even more impressive, given the fact that both Varner and Tana were cavalry scouts with years of experience. Special credit is also due to Charles B. Lang for the cinematography, to Aaron Stell for editing (in collaboration with Mulligan), and to the three art directors. Their talents are seamlessly integrated. For these and other reasons, I obviously think highly of this film. It has modest objectives and fully achieves them. Gregory Peck once confided that this was one of his favorite films. Once having seen it, we understand why."
A great movie.
PBezukov | 08/13/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This Western is a secret treasure. I'm so happy to find it on amazon. Gregory Peck plays a scout who has been working for the US cavalry. It's pretty much a mop up operation now toward the end of the Indian Wars. He's been involved with the cavalry's escort of women and children and elderly people to a reservation and now he's done and looking forward to retiring to his cabin in the foothills of the rockies. A white squaw played by Eve Marie Saint approaches him and asks for further escort for herself and her half-breed son. Reluctantly, Peck acquiesces. Well, it turns out that the boy's father is just about the baddest renegade chief ever and he starts coming on like the Terminator to get his son back. Peck, who's hatched a hankerin' for Saint (who can blame him!) resolves to stop him. Hold on to your saddle horn, pardner, 'cause man, it gets intense. You never see the Stalking Moon coming but you always know where he's been. Just count the bodies. Great movie!"
A WESTERN OF HITCHCOCKIAN PROPORTIONS
D. McAllister | Somewhere in the Field | 06/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What would a western directed by Alfred Hitchcock have looked like? Odds are that THE STALKING MOON, starring Gregory Peck, would come close.
Peck plays Sam Varner, a scout in the Southwest working to round up the last vestiges of the fierce Apache tribe. Reluctantly he succumbs to the insistent appeals of a white woman (Eva Marie Saint), whom he has rescued from ten years of captivity among the Apaches, to take her and her half-breed son away from their makeshift camp. The one detail that she withholds is that her husband and the father of the boy is the notorious, bloodthirsty and diabolical Apache warrior Salvaje. And you don't have to be historian to recognize that Salvaje is patterned after the real-life Apache warrior Geronimo.
Without knowing of the carnage that Salvaje is reaping in the wake of his wife and son being taken from him, Varner takes the woman and child with him to New Mexico. It isn't until Nick Tana (Robert Forster), Varner's friend and protégé, shows up and recounts all that has happened that Varner realizes that Salvaje is coming for the child, the woman and for him.
The movie masterfully masks the warrior until the very end, increasing the intensity of its plot and suspense with every discordant strum of the guitars in the soundtrack.
THE STALKING MOON is a must-see western. Gregory Peck is wonderful and defines Varner as only he could. Robert Forster and Eve Marie Saint are also terrific. And now on DVD!"
A Great Exercise in Suspense
Stephen Kaczmarek | Columbus, Ohio United States | 01/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Taut and genuinely suspenseful, this brooding Gregory Peck western nonetheless is largely overlooked by audiences and broadcasters alike. (On a related note, please, will someone wake the people up at TCM and AMC and ask that they stop showing the same dozen movies over and over again? There are many gems like this one just waiting to be seen.) The story is a precursor to "The Terminator," as a retiring cavalry scout (Peck) unwittingly incurs the wrath of an implaccable Apache warrior after agreeing to escort to safety the white woman who escaped his clutches. What follows is a bloody, cross-country battle of wills pitting the scout's experience against the warrior's sheer determination to reclaim what he believes is his. A young Robert Forster does a fine turn as Peck's bi-racial sidekick and all-but son. Filmed in a straightforward manner and with a soundtrack that is both menacing and heroic, "The Stalking Moon" deserves a wider audience, as well as release in widescreen on DVD!"
mr david cairns | kennoway, fife Great Britain | 05/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In trying to write a review of The Stalking Moon I am struck by the fact that there are so many people who have not seen this little gem of a Western or have any knowledge of it at all. Taken from the book by T.V.Olsen,author of Soldier Blue,The Stalking Moon starts with Gregory Peck,a retiring U,S. Army scout,rescuing a kidnapped white woman,Eva Marie Saint,and her Apache son.Unknown to Peck,she is the wife of a fearsome Apache warrior,Salvaje,and the boy is his son.Following the trio from Arizona to New Mexico,Salvaje leaves a trail of destruction and dead bodies along the way to the inevitable showdown with Peck. If you can think of a thriller/love story/western then you will love The Stalking Moon.Peck and Saint give very laid back performances portraying mature characters, and a special word for an excellent supporting performance from a young Robert Forster as an Apache scout and friend of Peck,s character. This film was one of Gregory Peck,s personal favourites and i can understand why. Excellent Western that, like many,many others,should be made available on DVD,Widescreen as well. Davy,Westernnut from Scotland."