Do you ask these questions because you want to know the answer or it’s just something you think a detective should do? This central question haunts the 1975 detective film Night Moves staring Gene Hackman. Hackman plays Harry Moseby, an ex NFL defensive back for the Raiders who’s chosen the profession of private investigating. Moseby lands a simple job, locate the daughter of a fading Hollywood starlet and return her to her mother. Moseby takes the case, tracks down a very young James Woods, who leads him to Florida where he meets the daughter in question, an equally young, and very naked, Melanie Griffith. Moseby takes the daughter back to Hollywood where she quickly finds herself dead. Moseby knows her killer is among those who helped find her, but which one is it?
What I love about the films of the 70s is the dark, depressing, mature themes that are explored in films like Dog Day Afternoon, Three Days of the Condor, The Conversation and many others. Those films really show a beaten America. A people who have had the glass slipper of Government removed from their feet. Those are the things that make the films in the 70s great. That, and movies like Night Moves that has nothing to do with those previous themes I mentioned. Night Moves, directed by Arthur Penn is about the relationship between the Moseby character and his adulterous wife, as well as his attempt to solve a murder and finally piece something together in his life. The film is a quick, fun, on the surface who dunnit and it’s a refreshing break from the previous film in this marathon Biutiful.
Hackman is fantastic in his role as an early Magnum PI character. The case is as convoluted as one might expect and there is some classic 70s nudity for no reason, which seemed to be the norm. My only complaint about the film is the final fight scene between Hackman and a person involved in a murder. The fight is realistic and bloody but it’s just comically choreographed. There are some old-timey punch sound effects thrown in and the scene that I think is supposed to be a serious fight, just comes off as silly. For a film I had never heard of, it provided some nice entertainment and acted as a solid pallet cleanser.