Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 07/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like "Chinatown" (the only contemporary mystery that I can compare it to), "Night Moves" has much more going on below the placid chilly surface of the water at the conclusion of the film than meets the eye.Ex-football player and private eye Harry (Gene Hackman)is hired to find the worldly daughter (Melaine Griffith in her second screen role at the tender age of 18)of a Hollywood socialite. Harry's wife (Susan Clark)feels ignored by her husband and resents his frequent absences and pursues an affair with another man complicating his placid existence. His pursuit of the girl opens up a pandora's box of murder, deceit and greed that he's completely unprepared for. Written by Alan Sharp, "Night Moves" incorporates elements from the novel "The Stunt Man" which director Arthur Penn was originally supposed to direct (he had to pull out to a prior commitment at the last minute)and features a number of marvelous suspenseful set pieces.
Well directed by Penn ("Little Big Man", "Bonnie & Clyde"), "Night Moves" is the same rancid world that Gittes faced in "Chinatown" only the players have changed but not the greed that drives those that commit the crimes. Hackman delivers one of his finest performances. Susan Clark and the rest of the supporting cast all turn in terrific performances adding to the gritty realism of the film.
I've seen a couple of complaints about how dark the video was for this film. Rest assured, "Night Moves" looks terrific. Warner has struck a brand new print of the film and given it the deluxe treatment. Colors are vibrant and bright throughout the film. There's no noticeable dirt or debris to mar the picture and only an occasional analog flaw that was on the original negative of the film. The film features the original vintage featurette produced to promote the film focusing on the moive "Night Moves" and director Arthur Penn's approach to film directing as well as the original theatrical trailer for the film."
Tangled up in the Watergate-era Blues
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 12/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Film-noir, cynical thriller, jaded mystery,... Night Moves is all those things. There were many conspiracy saturated films after Watergate but Penns film is perhaps even darker because it finds the seed of corruption in every aspect of American life . Everyone is in some way morally compromised and if not yet corrupt getting very near to being so. And they start young. A very young Melanie Griffith plays the runaway teen who seems perfectly capable of finding her way as well as getting her way and doesn't really need any finding. Gene Hackman plays the detective doing the family a favor. And James Woods plays what at first seems like a villainous role but there are no easy gradations in this film. Everything and everyone operates in their own grey area. There is no high ground.
The locations are perfectly chosen. L.A. and the Florida Keys each have a wonderfully seedy resonance in any film goers mind. The locations are wonderful surfaces which barely conceal the dirty secrets seething just below the water line. Hackman tracks Griffith from L.A. to the Keys and there encounters the very sexy drop out Jennifer Warren living in tropic squalor mixed up in the trafficking of all kinds of strange cargo. The plot is complex to describe but all is very competently put together into a flawlessly structured whole by the great Arthur Penn. The ending allows for no easy resolution and may have effected the way the film was intitially received but it is a gutsy exit. One of the great films of a great period in American cinema, the early 70's. Smuggle this film into your library."
M. A Oberly | Columbus, Ohio USA | 07/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a relatively unknown film noir from the mid '70s, starring Gene Hackman as a former football player turned private eye who is obsessed by a chess game from the '20s, where one of the players missed a forced mate, and lost instead. He's hired by a wealthy former hollywood starlet to track down her daughter, which takes him to some of the seedier parts of the Florida Keys you'll ever see on film.
As is common in other noirs, just about everyone in this film is corrupt, even including Hackman's character himself, to a certain point. As noted by another reviewer, this movie will remind many of 'Chinatown'. In the end, just about everyone loses.
I have a copy of this on VHS, and I bought the DVD for the widescreen. I was impressed by the image quality of the DVD -- it's a little grainy, but overall, quite high quality. I don't think anyone's going to be very disappointed by the transfer, considering it's a mid '70s film. The only extras are some trailers, and a sort of short documentary on the director.
Hackman is terrific in this, as he is in most of his other films. He can play genial one moment, and a moment later play cynical and tough. It's too bad he didn't get another opportunity at another role like this. Unfortunately, they don't really make films like this anymore."
Well worth your time
Old broad | Northbay, CA | 03/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Early Hackman, REALLY early Melanie Griffith. Cohesive, provocative script that will stand you in good stead for repeated viewing. Interesting photography, particularly the underwater shots. With Hackman one expects excellent acting and you will not be disappointed in any of the cast. The nude scenes are beautifully done, not blatant and fall naturally into the storyline.
Good, solid, well-done film. The director is to be complimented."
An Excellent Arthur Penn/Gene Hackman Mystery, With A Violen
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 02/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Harry Moseby is a private investigator with a marriage that's falling apart and an unwillingness to deal with his own personal issues. He used to play pro ball for Oakland; now he gets by with divorce work. He likes to solve chess problems. He's smarter than you think. One day he gets a call from a friend who says he's got a case for Harry. A 16-year-old girl, daughter of an alcoholic former small-time movie star and a deceased Hollywood mogul, has run away. Harry tracks the teenager down to an island off Florida and the home of her stepfather, Tom Iverson. Iverson and his wife, Paula, run a small charter boat operation. The days are filled with hot sunshine. The nights with puzzles and temptations. Harry intends to return the girl to her mother, but lands up to his eyes in murder, Hollywood stunt men, stolen Mexican artifacts and emotional betrayal.
Night Moves stars Gene Hackman as Moseby. It's one of his best roles. Arthur Penn directed and I'd put it up there with Penn's best. Several things make this movie so good. First is the coherence of a complicated story. At times Moseby is a step or two ahead of us. Some times we're a step or two ahead of Moseby. The solution, however, comes as a logical but surprising revelation to both Moseby and us. All the elements were there if we'd only noticed them. Penn's direction keeps us engrossed in the story and in the action. Even when Moseby is dealing with his wife who is having an affair, in part because of Moseby's own emotional distance, Penn keeps us involved and looking forward to the next part of the story.
Equally important, Night Moves features some first rate actors whom we believe in as their characters. After Hackman is Jennifer Warren as Paula Iverson, a complicated mixture of honesty and evasion. Paula is edgy, with a quick mouth and ping pong talk. She looks straight at you when she challenges you. Edward Binns as an aging stuntman gives another fine performance. He's tired, experienced and has seen it all. Melanie Griffith as Delly, the run-away sex nymphet, gives an excellent performance in her first billed role. She was 18 when she made the movie. Strong performances also are given by John Crawford as Tom Iverson, Janet Ward as Delly's usually drunk mother who is dependent on Delly's trust fund, Susan Clark as Harry's wife, Harris Yulin as her lover and James Woods as a repellant mechanic.
The movie steadily builds tension and interest as Harry tracks Delly down and meets Paula and Tom Iverson. Then one night Paula takes Delly for a late night swim and Harry decides to tag along. Delly strips off and dives in nude while Harry looks uncomfortable and Paula just smiles. Then Delly comes up screaming. Paula turns on the underwater lights and they peer through the glass bottom. Not too far down in the water they can see the remains of a small plane. In the cabin, fish are still nibbling at what's left of the pilot's face. At this point the movie picks up a lot of steam, with Harry determined to find out what's going on. The end of the movie is violent and surprisingly poignant. Night Moves is a movie worth having.
The DVD transfer looks just fine, maybe a little soft. There is one light-weight extra called The Day of the Director about Penn. It didn't seem worth sitting through."