Night Moves

The classic noirs of the forties and fifties didn't have the Watergate scandal to draw on and with it that 1970s style of disillusionment––the misdeeds did go all the way to the top. It's this American malaise that weighs on Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman), a world-weary private eye out to find a young runaway. The clues pursued by this clueless dick take him to the Florida Keys where Delly (the seventeen-year-old Melanie Griffith), a needy nymphet, is shacked up with her slithery stepfather (John Crawford) and his tough-as-nails girlfriend Paula (Jennifer Warren), a sexy knockabout with a sardonic wit. Back in L.A., Harry's marriage is tumbling (into someone else's bed) and Harry, being the snarky snoop he is, never saw it coming. Hackman is brilliantly bruising as the doggedly vulnerable dick puzzled by his own mystery. Like a midnight ménage, Night Moves moves among Harry's three women, each a complicated coupling. Like the other great seventies noirs, The Conversation, The Long Goodbye, and Chinatown, Penn darkly divulges that behind every mystery is more of it.

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