Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Overlooked Movies: The Stalking Moon (1968)
THE STALKING MOON is another Western that somehow I never watched until now. Based on a novel by T.V. Olsen, it's the story of Sam Varner (Gregory Peck), a civilian scout for the Army, who on his last mission before retiring finds a white woman (Eva Marie Saint) who's been a captive of the Apaches for the past ten years. She has her young son with her, and she wants Varner to help her and the boy get back to Ohio where she had family. Against his better judgment, Varner agrees.
What he doesn't know is that the boy's father is some ninja-like super-Apache who slaughters a bunch of people (off-screen) while tracking Varner, the woman, and the boy across Arizona and New Mexico Territories before finally catching up to them on the ranch Varner had intended to be his retirement home.
Quite a few people seem to like this movie a lot, but I'm afraid my verdict is decidedly mixed. The acting is good all around (Robert Forster, who I've always liked, plays a young scout), the production values are good, and the action scenes, when they finally arrive, are well-staged and effective. But man, this is an hour's worth of movie in two hours of running time. For most of the way the pace is beyond leisurely, especially considering that there's not a plot twist to be found anywhere. I don't want to seem too harsh--I'm glad I finally saw this--but I found it to be pretty much of a disappointment. I haven't read Olsen's novel, but I have to wonder if the story worked better as a book.