Review: Night Moves

“Who’s wining?”

“Nobody, one side is just losing slower than the other.”

This movie is a neo noir staring Gene Hackman in all his 1970’s glory.  It has it all, the 16-year-old Lolita, the young rebel mechanic boyfriend, the aging starlet, the Hollywood stuntman, the unhappy wife and of course the ex-football player turned hardboiled private detective.  We also have some classic film noir dialog, updated for a 1970’s audience.  How about this zinger?

“What happened to your face?”

“I won second place in a fight.”

Or this great line from one of our female leads.

“Your are kind of edgy, aren’t you?”

“It’s the heat and the low wages.”

The settings are classic film noir locations, we start out in Los Angles and then go head to the Florida Keys.  We have a young James Woods just getting his career started and a 16 year oldish Melanie Griffith making her film debut.  All directed by Arthur Penn.

So with all of this, why isn’t this picture better known?  TCM’s Ben Markowitz said “This is the best movie you have never seen.”  I’m not sure why, this film just came on my radar earlier this year, and I’m glad I got to view it.

Our story starts with our private detective played by Hackman getting hired by our aging starlet to find her step-daughter(Griffin).  He is also having problems with his marriage, his wife is played by Susan Clark.  His investigation takes him into the world of Hollywood movies and stuntmen.  The case eventually takes him to the Florida Keys and he meets our real femme fatale of the film played by Jennifer Warren.  We also find the step daughter here, us as the audience and our hero believe she is our femme fatale, but she is still just in training and doesn’t fool our hero. The three see the scary remnants of a boat wreck which scares our step-daughter and she willingly goes back to California with our hero.  Our hero thinks the case is closed, but it is only getting started.

Gene Hackman was one of the biggest stars in the 1970’s, starting the decade out with The French Connection and ending it with Superman.  Check out my review of The French Connection here:

He also was in a handful of other box office successes and classic films from the decade.  This is right up there with some of his best, but seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think classic film noir buffs and noir fans in general will too.  If you’re fans of Hackman, it’s a must see and if you want to see a young Melanie Griffith or James Wood it’s worth a viewing.