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 from 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. Wish this one were on DVD!