You can see the film noir lurking behind the western in this western noir in the first plot twist. Behind the facade of a typical western conflict between cattle owners and homesteaders lies a distinctly noirish crime setup, "the big con", and yet it's exactly that kind of inconistency that prevents BLOOD ON THE MOON from reaching the greatness parts of it faintly suggest. Because the conflict foreshadowed in the first act between cattle baron (usually the bad guy in a western) and the conniving leader of the homesteaders is abandoned in the third act so Robert Mitchum's drifter character can hole up in Walter Brennan's shack and exchange shots with the hired guns of his former employer. Because the perenial world-weariness of Mitchum's droopy face is undercut by a Hollywood ending where everything is tied up neatly with a ribbon on top. We're still in good guys/bad guys territory and director Robert Wise opens his cards about who's what way too early, so that the rest of the film and the promise of the good first 30 minutes is squandered in people running hither and thither, to do this or that or prevent those from happening. Gorgeously photographed and watchable throughout, but more of a missed chance than the bonafide western noir classic it should have been.