While moving a group of Apaches to a Native American reservation in Arizona, an American scout named Sam Varner (Gregory Peck) is surprised to find a white woman, Sarah Carver (Eva Marie Saint), living with the tribe. When Sam learns that she was taken captive by an Indian named Salvaje ten years ago, he attempts to escort Sarah and her half-Native American son to his home in New Mexico. However, it soon becomes clear that Salvaje is hot on their trail. The Stalking Moon is a 1968 American dark Western film in Technicolor directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Gregory Peck and Eva Marie Saint. It is based on the novel of the same name by T.V. Olsen.
Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote “There are some lovely individual things in The Stalking Moon—broad, Western landscapes, a moment in which Miss Saint suddenly catches her haggard look reflected in a train window, a scene in which Peck buys a railroad ticket at a desert crossing that explains the awful, dislocating distances on the frontier. Those, however, are random touches…Like Peck, the film moves stolidly forward with more dignity than excitement…Quite consciously, Mulligan and Alvin Sargent, who wrote the screenplay, have kept their focus on the poor whites, but unfortunately, none of them is especially interesting. They remain outlines for characters — the lonely frontiersman, the woman who has gone through horrors that are unspeakable (at least unspeakable in this film) to survive Indian captivity, and the small boy torn between two cultures.”
The trouble with “The Stalking Moon” is that it frightens us in all the regulation ways. Eva Marie Saint goes into the bedroom, and a sinister arm reaches out and shuts the door behind her. So what? The scene was set up for that; we were expecting it. All that redeems the film are a few moments of authentic Western life: a stationmaster selling an incredibly complicated ticket to Topeka, Peck urging the woman to talk at dinnertime, Robert Forster teaching the boy to play poker.