I’m a big fan of private-eye movies and television series. I’m glad The Rockford Files is out on DVD, but I’m still waiting for Marlowe, starring James Garner and Bruce Lee. However, I don’t have an excuse for not having already seen Night Moves. It’s been out for over thirty years, and I bought the DVD a year ago. I did finally get around to watching it, though, and it was as good as I’d hoped it would be.
The story is pure 1970s, as evidenced by the cars, clothing, and some of the language. But it also tells a timeless story of confusion and betrayal, and the layers of secrets that add to those.
Gene Hackman stars as Harry Moseby, an ex-football player rather than an ex-cop. Moseby has been broken down by family problems and the loss of his career, and seems to be barely hanging onto life by a thread. Only the occasional missing-persons case appears to keep him financially afloat and emotionally anchored.
Hackman has always been a personal favorite of mine. He can pull off any kind of role and look good doing it, even if the film is total cheese. He’s just a guy I look at and immediately respect. His everyman stance and his charm just oozes from every pore. As Moseby, he was a well-known football hero, and a lot of his friends still see him as a standup guy, but he doesn’t let anyone in too close.
Unfortunately, that same inability for closeness is what ultimately undermines his relationship with his wife, Ellen (Susan Clark). When he first gets handed the case of the little runaway rich girl, Moseby isn’t too interested. Then he catches his wife cheating on him and tries to lose himself in the investigation.