NIGHT MOVES (1975)

dir. Arthur Penn. Gene Hackman is private investigator Harry Moseby (amazing name), hired by Arlene Iverson to track down her wayward sixteen year old daughter, Delly (Melanie Griffith) who has skipped town. Part of the “neo-noir” category of crime films, influenced by earlier American films like DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) and THE MALTESE FALCON (1941). Vintage Gene Hackman, made the year after what might be his best film, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION. There is a reference to Dashiell Hammett’s private detective Sam Spade (seen in THE MALTESE FALCON), but Harry Moseby is not a cynic, he’s a romantic, and much more human. There are a few moments that haven’t aged well, specifically Harry Moseby’s handsy greeting to his wife at the start of the film, and an unnecessary nude swimming scene with seventeen year old Melanie Griffith. The music is a great blend of old fashioned film noir jazz, and more modern 1970s thriller drum beats. Like many film noir movies, the plot is complicated, revealing itself slowly, but is ultimately very neat and satisfying. Some odd yet fun scenes, such as a shirtless Gene Hackman lying in bed, making fondue and reminiscing about his absentee father.

THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975)

dir. Sydney Pollack. Paranoid thriller about a C.I.A. analyst (Robert Redford) who goes on the run, falsely accused of a crime, he tries to clear his name, on the way “obtaining” the assistance of a charming young photographer (Faye Dunaway). Based on the James Grady novel ‘Six Days of the Condor’, which I assume is precisely twice as long… I’ve not read the novel, but the film is pretty much a re-telling of the John Buchan novel, ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’, which Alfred Hitchcock so expertly adapted into his 1935 film. While being a wonderful atmospheric journey through 1970s New York City, Robert Redford doesn’t quite evoke the same emotion and desperation of Robert Donat in the Hitchcock film. Emotional truths aside, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR is still lots of fun, often suspenseful, and a very easy watch. The late Max von Sydow is enjoyable as the foreign freelance killer, and has some great lines. Very spooky to listen to the subject of C.I.A. involvement in oil field conspiracy, in nondescript offices in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, which were completed only 2 years before this movie premiered. Lovely production design in the basement library of Robert Redford’s workplace, and Faye Dunaway’s NYC artist studio apartment.