Opening with some fantastic imagery, 'Moonrise' introduces us to Danny Hawkins, a young boy who is consistently mistreated and taunted because his father was a murderer, who subsequently was hung at the gallows. Using some great silhouettes, editing, and projection backgrounds, it's a pretty frightening sequence for a young boy to experience, with Borzage setting a tone and mood from the very beginning of a man who is constantly haunted by his terrible childhood and perceived inadequacies. Part Noir, part Melodrama, 'Moonrise' is really an expertly crafted film exploring the moral repercussions for Danny Hawkins after being involved in an accident, which leaves a man dead. Danny is such a tormented character, his father's wrongs weighting him down to the degree that he himself questions whether he is in fact a rotten person at heart. Fearing the worst, he tells no one about the accidental death, leading to even more torment, re-living the event over and over, torturing himself. The relationship he begins to form with Gilly Johnson, a schoolteacher, perfectly weaves around the Noir elements, creating a film that is both tough, yet ultimately redemptive. As amazing as the intro of the film is, the rest of it manages to keep this visual standard, with stylized cinematography, great shadows, and some solid use of sound. One prime example of this being the Carousel sequence, where Danny's paranoia hits a fever pitch when he dives off the carousel because he believes he is being followed. In the end, Moonrise essentially crushes all the Noir genre conventions with a story of redemption and ultimately a rather happy ending for Danny and Gilly. So, I've only seen 4 of Frank Borzage's films but I am totally convinced that he was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.