Monday, February 21, 2011

Night Moves (DVD) 1975 / a film by Arthur Penn; starring Gene Hackman, Jennifer Warren, James Woods, Susan Clark & Melanie Griffith

"Nobody's winning. One side's just losing slower than the other."

Harry Moseby is getting tired of his job. He's tired of a lot of things, the problems in his marriage not least among them, but mostly it's the mundane, depressing work is private investigator practice is giving him. It's always the same bitter divorce cases and teenage runaways, the same sleazy LA types, movie people and hangers-on, who want someone to catch their cheating spouse in the act or find out who's dealing drugs to their kids. So when a wealthy Hollywood woman hires him to find her missing daughter Delly, he ponders that it just might be his last case. It's the usual set of sordid circumstances, or so it seems, in which the girl's left home after a falling out over a man Delly was seeing. The case leads Harry to Florida where the presumed runaway is holed up with her stepfather and another woman, Paula. She's certainly not interested in returning home to her mother but Harry thinks he can persuade her, something he gets done with a little help from Paula and a little coercion of Tom. Before they head out though, there's an odd incident involving a downed biplane offshore which catches Harry's attention. Little is thought of it and Harry succeeds in getting Delly back home safe.

Of course all is not safe, or even remotely back to normal. Still in the process of getting things settled in his own personal life, Harry get's the news that Delly has died on the set of a movie where she'd been working as a stunt double. Though it's been made to look like an accident, Harry starts to think that it's anything but and before long certain pieces of an entirely new puzzle involving the downed biplane, Delly's mother and what was really going on in Florida slowly come together. Oddly, Night Moves has never been considered an elite 70's crime/detective film, at least not in the same vein as Chinatown, The Conversation or The French Connection. Even more odd is that the latter two films both had Hackman as the lead each of the preceding years. In a role in which he's reunited with director Author Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Alice's Restaurant), Hackman plays the same sort of grizzled tough guy he was in French Connection though this time around with perhaps a little less edgy aggression. In any case it's a true gem, definitely worth the time and effort to locate and view (it's not a very readily available film). And it's one of the few films that truly demands the unwavering attention of the viewer as the mystery and the mayhem unravel and newer twists are introduced at every turn.  (DVD NIGHT)

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