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.