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Former football player and present private detective Harry Moseby gets hired on to what seems a standard missing person case, as an aging Hollywood actress whose only major roles came thanks to being married to a studio mogul wants Moseby to find and return her stepdaughter. Harry travels to Florida to find her, but he begins to see a connection with the runaway girl, the world of Hollywood stuntmen, and a suspicious mechanic when an unsolved murder comes to light. Written by
Gary Dickerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film was selected to screen in the "Tribute to Arthur Penn" strand at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 and then later in the "Homage" section of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007. See more »
Although filmed more than 30 years ago, "Night Moves" is still a fascinating film-noire. The plot starts in a rather straightforward way: We have a former footballer, Harry Moseby (Hackman), who now makes his living as a private detective, and gets hired on to what seems a standard missing person case. His employer is Arlene Iverson (Ward), a rather unknown aging actress, who wants him to find his missing stepdaughter (Griffith). As Moseby starts his investigation however, he realizes that nothing is as straightforward as it seemed; if you add the complication that his marriage has got into serious trouble, then you can realize that he is probably in a situation which he can barely handle...
Although the plot is quite fascinating in itself, providing us with several twists until the very end, the secret of the film's attractiveness lies in psychology: Director Arthur Penn does a magnificent job in showing us how a beaming, full of dynamism and self-confidence Moseby, is getting entangled in a situation which progressively drives him to successive bottoms. He cannot see clues which are in front of his eyes, and in the end the truth is revealed to him only by mere luck; even when he finds out about his wife's cheating in the early part of the film, it is simply because he just happened to be there. Moseby is not the talented detective of the Hercule Poirot's class: He is simply an average, well-intentioned guy who just happens to be a detective, and who has got into something that is well-above his skills.
Hackman is superb in his role, as one would of course expect from this very talented actor: He is ideally suited to portray the complex character of Harry Moseby. The film offers other good performances as well, including the young James Woods and Melanie Griffith who are in the beginning of their careers.
"Night Moves" is also full of subtle symbolism, with Penn providing us with plenty of arty material. Sometimes, this gets a bit too far, making the film a bit slow. Still, the overall result is satisfying.
Of course, the fact that the film was filmed in 1974 is something we cannot completely overlook: "Night Moves" has its age, whether we like it or not. That is one of the main reasons that I give it a 7/10, when it could get even higher.
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