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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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Credited cast:
Barbara London
Art Smith
Wendy Barrie
Alan Ansara
Monroe Arnold
Otto Mjaanes
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Zelda R. Suplee ...
(as Zelda Suplee)
Mike Dana
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Moondog ...


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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Release Date:

December 1963 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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


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

not surprised it never got much at all of a theatrical release
3 February 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Moving Finger, the 'plus' feature on a DVD featuring Brian De Palma's Murder a la Mod, was made by Larry Moyer, a strictly independent/B-movie director who apparently never really directed again after this (he has one animation co-direct credit on a short). Not too surprising why; his film is a blend of even-for-then tired clichés between a heist plot and the swarm of the Beats down in the Village in the late 50s and early 60s. It's about a bank robber who gets shot, and is somehow able to make it on a bus down to Greenwhich village and hide out among a group of bum-beatniks who are allowed to stay as long as they appease the man who owns a dingy poetry club (inimitable, gravel voiced Lionel Stander, like Mickey from Rocky with "poetry in 'im").

Not much happens really, and despite Moyer's attempts to capture some reality of the squalor of the village scene at the time he doesn't get enough. He's tethered to a bad plot with crummy actors (save for Barry Newman, star of Vanishing Point, who oddly enough is here almost as a goof in the midst of the "tea-heads"), and long stretches of dancing and dialog to B-movie music that doesn't stick well. With more creative direction, and maybe more of an attempt to go with style as do the poetic bums of this world, this premise could have some lift. As it is, it's barely a half step above Mystery Science Theater status.

It's not a movie to seek out specifically if you've never seen it, and I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it again if I rent the Murder a la Mod DVD again. Only redeeming quality is a scene with a cockroach race.

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