Movies »Night Moves

night moves arthur pennNight Moves is a great crime drama Arthur Penn directed nearly a full decade after the hugely successful Bonnie and Clyde and, despite a similarly realistic tone, it's a very different piece of work. Penn wisely chose to re-team with master thespian Gene Hackman, casting him as the lead in this unsettlingly honest private eye yarn. Mysteries lead nowhere, predictable deaths go un-prevented; spiritual dissatisfaction ensues.

The scenery and the characters are on display warts and all. The cast delivers complex performances, among the best are two femme fatales one of whom, a former hooker and Key West weirdo, is played to perfection by Jennifer Warren with lightning fast mood swings, hawk eyes, and predatory teeth; the other is a sixteen-year-old Melanie Griffith, not portrayed as a typical Hollywood teen vamp, but as a desperate and lost child who never had a chance thanks to her horrible mother and a parade of rotten men behaving the only way they know how.

Even the sets have a lived in realism, the boats looks grimy and old, the porches sag under years of heavy burdens as do the shoulders of the mostly broken characters. Gene Hackman is a lovable but damaged private eye, in the business to avoid the problems in his life he can't solve: a failed football career and a crumbling marriage, for starters.

It's a forgotten classic worth a look if you love film noir or Gene Hackman–which should pretty much cover everybody because I can't think of anyone that doesn't love Gene Hackman.

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Posted on August 11, 2008

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