Saturday, November 21, 2009

Night Moves

Night Moves; Thriller-drama, USA, 1975; D: Arthur Penn, S: Gene Hackman, Janet Ward, Susan Clark, Jennifer Warren, Kenneth Mars, Harris Yulin, James Woods, Melanie Griffith

Detective Harry Moseby is rather relaxed and unorthodox. One day, he gets a new assignment: actress Arlene hires him to find her rebellious daughter Delly. Harry quickly finds her in Florida, at her stepfather Tom and his colleague Paula. During diving, Delly accidentally discovers a corpse in a sunken ship while Tom promises he will call the police. Harry escorts Delly to her home, but she dies the next day in a mysterious car accident when she was shooting a film in a car driven by a stuntman, Ziegler. Harry comes back to Florida and discovers that Delly's death was ordered by Tom because the corpse indicated at his smuggling business. Harry beats him up, but gets attacked in a ship by an airplane flown by Ziegler, who dies. Harry survives while the ship is driving around in circles.

Unknown film "Night Moves" from the rich opus of director Arthur Penn, the author of such classics like "Bonnie & Clyde" and "Little Big Man", is a crime film that is a one constant queue of surprises. In the exposition, the story shows the private detective Harry, played brilliantly by Gene Hackman, as an unfocused and relaxed kind of guy who often misses out on small details, and as such is wrong for this kind of job, yet is still hired to find the daughter of actress Arlene (who also at one point says she has "silicon breasts"), following the footsteps of crime classics "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep". But 60 minutes into the film, the hero already finds her. The case is solved already half way into the film, which is why the story is the whole time avoiding the cliches and casually traverses into drama with a different subplot, always having interesting ideas (the bad guy attacks the hero with a shell!). The much talked about ending is good, symbolic, but not as strong as the endings in some other great 70s films, like "Being There".


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