Lew Harper is a Los Angeles based private investigator whose marriage to Susan Harper, who he still loves, is ending in imminent divorce since she can't stand being second fiddle to his work, which is always taking him away at the most inopportune of times. His latest client is tough talking and physically disabled Elaine Sampson, who wants him to find her wealthy husband, Ralph Sampson, missing now for twenty-four hours, ever since he disappeared at Van Nuys Airport after having just arrived from Vegas. No one seems to like Ralph, Elaine included. She believes he is cavorting with another woman. Harper got the case on the recommendation of the Sampsons' lawyer and Harper's personal friend, milquetoast Albert Graves, who is unrequitedly in love with Sampson's seductive daughter, Miranda Sampson. Miranda, whom Harper later states throws herself at anything "pretty in pants", also has a decidedly cold relationship with her stepmother, Elaine. As Harper begins his investigation, he is ...Written by
The title of the Ross Macdonald's source novel "The Moving Target" was this picture's title in Great Britain. See more »
After Harper (played by a stuntman) dives through the shed window he runs between some dilapidated ship vent stacks. As the stuntman moves behind the stack, you can see Harper's (Newman) head sticking out on the other side and the stuntman's hind side out the other. The size of the combined Harper at that point is probably 10+ feet tall. See more »
For years I've believed in how Elliot Gould's Philip Marlowe in "The Long Goodbye" was the first effort at making a P.I. character a whacked out loser with a post-modern attitude. Yet, I'm watching "Harper" today and my jaw is bounding off the floor like a yo-yo. Because in the lead role Paul Newman gives one of the ten best performances I've ever seen, and maybe the best comedic one from a non-comedian actor ever done. Even at the two thirds mark, when 99% of the screenplays usually have nothing new to say about their characters, Lew Harper was still leaving me damn near breathless. How "Cool Hand Luke" is more famous than "Harper", which is never mentioned anywhere as the king-size sleeper it is, bewilders me entirely.
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