4.8/10
63
4 user 7 critic

The Moving Finger (1963)

A rare beatnik artifact of the early 1960s, one of only a few such films made before the hippies took over Hollywood. Low budget and in b&w, it's set in Greenwich Village, with what seems ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Anatole
Barbara London
Art Smith
Wendy Barrie
Alan Ansara
Monroe Arnold
Otto Mjaanes
Garry Goodrow
Cornelius Jones
Carol Fleming
Henry Howard
Zelda R. Suplee ...
(as Zelda Suplee)
Mike Dana
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Moondog ...
Himself
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Storyline

A rare beatnik artifact of the early 1960s, one of only a few such films made before the hippies took over Hollywood. Low budget and in b&w, it's set in Greenwich Village, with what seems like a mostly improvised script. It begins as a late film noir crime tale involving a bank robbery where only one of a group of thieves escapes with his life, as well as $90,000 in loot. Injured and on the run, he hides in a local tour bus and is soon taken in by a group of bohemians who shoot him full of morphine to ease his pain and let him sleep it off on a mattress. Mason is the head beatnik. There's also the owner of both an upstairs coffeehouse and garret, where these beatniks hang out. They, in turn, bring the tourist trade in. Although the robbery is supposed to be the main focus of the plot, it quickly turns into more of a character study featuring these rebellious bon vivants and their odd lifestyle, which includes smoking and selling dope, mooching at art galleries, long conversations ... Written by Richard Santoro

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December 1963 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lionel Stander's first film acting role for a dozen years after being blacklisted in the early 1950s. See more »

Quotes

Anatole: I'm a realistic phony. I know I'm a phony. I don't pretend.
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User Reviews

 
Not a good film, but it's not without interest either
21 October 2006 | by (Worcester, MA) – See all my reviews

In the late 1960s, the Psychedelic generation took over Hollywood. Whether they were legitimate artifacts of the scene ("Easy Rider", "The Trip") or cash-ins on the older generations misunderstandings of them ("Skidoo", "Candy"), they seemed to be everywhere. However, their predecessors, the Beat Generation, inspired a lot less films. Thats why whenever I am able to get my hands on a film dealing with either Beats (as opposed to "Beatniks", the popular culture caricature of a bongo-playing bohemian), it holds a negligible amount of interest for me. This is one of the few films made dealing somewhat honestly with the movement. Its not a good film, but it's not without interest either.

The film is a blend of a Noir style crime story about a fugitive on the lam and a group of shiftless "Bohemian" artists. The crime angle of the film has been done many times and is uninteresting. However, the scenes in the Beat dens with poetry readings and art exhibits are fascinating. Sure the poetry is laughably horrible and the art is also, but its interesting to see a filmmaker attempt to understand them. Larry Moyer's direction is laced with a few nice avant-garde touches also. As for the acting, it isn't horrible. Barry Newman (later of the cult favorite "Vanishing Point") is too clean cut but tries. And the always amusing Lionel Strander ("Once Upon a Time In the West") provides laughs (not sure if they're intentional or not) as the overbearing owner of the club. The music is by Shel Silverstein and look fast for the legendary Moondog. As I said above, this isn't a good film, but anyone with an interest in finding out how the era's filmmakers looked at the Beats are advised to check it out. (6/10)


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