Night Moves (1975)

“What’s it all about, Moseby?”

Synopsis:
When a private investigator (Gene Hackman) is hired to bring a runaway (Melanie Griffith) back home to her mother (Janet Ward) in L.A., he unexpectedly finds himself embroiled in a multiple murder mystery.

Genres:

Review:
Arthur Penn’s Night Moves is smart ’70s noir — a psychological thriller with multiple twists and turns. Gene Hackman is perfectly cast as Detective Moseby, and is surrounded by fine supporting actors — including Susan Clark (Webster’s mom in the 80’s television show “Webster”) as his philandering wife; Jennifer Warren as the mysterious, earthy blonde who uses Moseby in unexpected ways; young Melanie Griffith as a runaway teen; and James Woods (ever smarmy) in an early bit part. Alan Sharp’s screenplay makes good use of settings in both Florida and L.A., and never gets stale — we’re continually kept guessing as to what will come next. Definitely worth checking out.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Gene Hackman as Moseby (nominated by Peary as one of the Best Actors of the Year in his Alternate Oscars)
    Moseby
  • Susan Clark as Moseby’s wife
    Susan Clark
  • Jennifer Warren as the mysterious, over-tanned Paula
    Paula
  • Melanie Griffith as the sexpot runaway
    Griffith
  • Good use of distinctive settings in both L.A. and Florida
    Florida

Must See?
Yes. This edgy detective thriller is one-of-a-kind. Listed as a Cult Movie and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Night Moves (1975)”

  1. A must and a real treat!

    Murky, enigmatic and atmospheric, ‘NM’ is a find for noir fans. You may not get everything first time out but it’s solid and rich enough to make repeat viewings worthwhile. (Actually, I’m not even sure that every single thread really is connected within, and y’know something? – I’m not even sure that matters! To me, that’s part of its life-like appeal.)

    Whoever was in charge of casting did a rather thorough job; these people really feel right as the group that they are and the individuals within that group. (That’s where Penn comes in as well. He’s always seemed to me more of an actor’s director, kind of like Kazan that way.) Even tho Hackman has the lead, he doesn’t pull a star turn; he blends in well with everyone, helping to make this an ensemble piece. ~of course, Warren has a bit of ‘Hey, look at me…’ about her, but I think that’s the character. 😉

    ‘NM’ also benefits greatly from Sharp’s…sharp script, complete with plenty of yummy dialogue.

    Favorite line –
    Hackman (to Griffith): Listen, Delly, I know it doesn’t make much sense – when you’re 16. But don’t worry; when you get to be 40, it isn’t any better.

    I look forward to seeing this again sometime in the not-too-distant future. One nifty ride! I’d seen it once before, years ago, but gave it a rewatch last night – was tired, but just had to see it to the end (a particularly mesmerizing finish).

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