|Gene Hackman in Night Moves|
Harry finds her in the Florida Keys. She’s staying with her stepfather Tom, but Delly doesn’t want to go back. She thinks her mother is only interested in her trust fund, which Arlene will inherit if anything happens to Delly. Harry stays overnight, and tries to convince Delly to return. Meanwhile, he forms a bond & shares an attraction with Paula, a woman who works for Tom. While on a boat ride with Harry & Paula, Delly goes swimming & finds the wreckage of a small plane, with the pilot’s body inside. Paula marks the spot with a buoy & the trio returns to shore. A visibly upset Delly asks Harry to take her home. He brings her back to Los Angeles, but a short time later, he hears Delly has been killed in an accident while filming a stunt on a movie set. That’s the springboard for what will become the movie’s final third. Harry, who’s been trying to salvage his relationship with Ellen, is drawn back into the case. Lies are uncovered, secrets are revealed, and in classic film noir style, things do not end well for everyone.
Night Moves is a dark, almost bleak movie, with characters like Harry & Paula stuck in places they don’t want to be, but powerless to change. In many ways, Harry is the opposite of the typical film noir hero, as he isn’t the tough guy who punches his way through things & people to solve the mystery. He hasn’t figured out the truth of the case, or his own truth. Hackman is superb in the role, subtly conveying Harry’s anguish under the surface. There’s a fine supporting cast of familiar faces, including Harris Yulin, John Crawford, Edward Binns, a young James Woods as Quentin, and the amazing Jennifer Warren, who is excellent as Paula. Arthur Penn’s solid direction, Alan Sharp’s well-honed script & cinematographer Bruce Surtees moody color palette all contribute to the movies’s success. The film is the second of three collaborations between director Penn & star Hackman, the other two being 1967’s Bonnie & Clyde and 1985’s Target. Night Moves is not a typical thriller, but it is a rewarding viewing experience, and it couldn’t have been made in a more appropriate decade than the 1970s. It’s truly worth watching. The film is available on DVD. Here’s a link to the film’s (somewhat misleading) trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdlLWziBggM.a .