Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NIGHT MOVES (1975) - Arthur Penn

The character Gene Hackman plays in Night Moves may ultimately be a better cuckhold than private dick. On finding out about his wife's affair while following her coming out of a Rohmer film, he takes it rather well. He doesn't throw any tantrums or punches at her tubby lover, Harris Yulin. He drops a few insults, some words of weary disappointment then goes back to work. The fact that his current case is more convoluted than his love life almost seems a relief to Harry Moseby. There's an aging starlet's runaway daughter (Melanie Griffith), some intrigue involving Hollywood stuntmen, a trip to the Florida Keys, several grand and expenses. Yes, this sounds like a quick buck and a good way to take his mind off things. This being a detective movie and, what's more, a 1970s movie such is not the case. Conspiracy abounds faster than adultery. Harry's so deep in it he only has time for one revenge screw.

I remembered Night Moves mostly for its ending. Re-watching it, I reconfirmed it is indeed a doozy, a product of its paranoid, increasingly disillusioned time. Hackman is left stranded and gun-shot on a boat going in circles out at sea. A man in a single engine plane has just taken a crack at him then crash landed within inches, nearly taking out the boat. As the plane goes down, Hackman desperately tries to see who the man is through the boat's glass bottom, but his view is liquidy, heavily distorted. His identity, like Harry's fate and the fate a country far adrift of its moral center, is entirely out of focus.

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