Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

Night Moves (1975):


On the surface, Night Moves follows all the basic conventions of the private detective noir genre.

1) The protagonist is a world-weary man of integrity. Harry (Gene Hackman) works hard for his clients and has a sense of decency, but never makes much money because he's the world's most honest guy. Like all his role models from the fiction of the 30s and 40s, he does exactly what he's hired to do and in return wants only his per diem plus expenses.

2) The detective starts out with a simple assignment which escalates into a complex criminal conspiracy. In this case, as in so many, Harry is hired for a missing persons job and ends up involved in multiple murders and smuggling.

Harry is called to the swanky house of a former movie starlet. Her daughter (Melanie Griffith) is missing. Harry follows the trail, finds out that the daughter is a very lusty young woman who has proceeded from lover to lover, and each of her beaus has been somehow involved in the stunt work side of movie making. One is a mechanic, another a pilot, another a stunt coordinator. The trail is fairly straightforward, and leads to the home of the missing girl's stepfather in the Florida Keys. Harry brings her home. When all of that is resolved, you can look at your DVD player and see that 62 minutes of the film have passed uneventfully. That is all there is to the first two thirds of the movie. No special mystery, no dramatic tension, just a character-based missing persons case with some world-weary dialogue like this:

"I can't hear myself think."

"Lucky you."

Or this:

"Who's winning?"

"Nobody, but one side is losing slower than the other."

One strange event did happen during the first sixty minutes, but no special significance was attached to it. While out on a midnight swim with the missing daughter, on the night before taking the girl back to her mother, Harry encountered a submerged place with the dead pilot still trapped inside. At the moment, that did not seem related in any way to Harry's case.

While the plot and atmosphere are those of a 1940s detective noir, everything unfolds in a classic 1970s way, with a lot of kooky characters, discussions of relationships, and existential angst. In the background is the fact that Harry catches his wife cheating on him, and this more or less gives him permission to have a one-night stand with a woman in the Keys, specifically the pilot of the boat that finds the submerged wreck. 

The last thirty minutes of the film seem to be in a completely different film. Just a couple of days after Harry returns the runaway daughter to her mother, the girl is killed the course of a failed movie stunt  - in a car with one of the people he met on the case, a car which is maintained by another guy (James Woods) Harry met on the girl's trail. Harry is no longer on the case, of course. His job is done, and the check is in his pocket. Since he is the official honest movie detective, however, he naturally resolves to solve the mystery, because he reasons that the girl would still be alive if he hadn't brought her back to mom. This is where the film stops being an existential character sketch and becomes a true thriller. As Harry retraces his earlier investigation, he finds that he had misinterpreted almost everything he saw, and had failed to see the connections between events that were related. Moreover, he regrets not having realized that many of the mother's and daughter's ex-lovers all knew each other, having worked together on various films. Of course, Harry could not have been expected to see all these things because everything seemed straightforward and simple. He found the girl and brought her home. He had no reason to expect any foul play of any type, and yet he feels responsible for the fate of the girl he "rescued."

The film finally turns the genre on its ear, because Harry manages to "solve" exactly nothing, and makes nothing better with his involvement. As he retraces the investigation, bodies continue to show up. Everyone he suspects of having harmed the daughter soon turns up as dead as she is, and ol' Harry can do nothing about it. In the final analysis, he's not an all-knowing 1940s movie detective, but just a real guy like those of us in the audience. He generally can't see what's going on any more clearly than we can, and he ends up just about the same way we would if we were in his shoes.

The director of the film is Arthur Penn, a largely forgotten but once highly respected director. His filmography from the sixties and seventies is short, but impressive.

Even the lowest-rated film on that list is an interesting failure. I found Night Moves a rewarding film to watch, although the first 62 minutes can seem at times to be a very laborious process of character introduction. I think I like it better when Dr. Evil simply calls his henchmen around the table and introduces them to one another, thus reducing all character exposition to about two minutes of monologue. Despite the languid pacing of that first hour, however, the film doesn't really drag because the dialogue is clever, the characters are credible, and the film is sexy and sad.

The last half hour moves at break-neck speed. In addition to the string of murders which begins with the daughter's death, much of the final act consists of explaining the things which happened behind Harry's back in the first part if the film, so the entire 100 minutes of plot and red herrings are packed into that last 38 minutes. The grand finale of the film consists of one of the greatest action scenes I've ever seen, followed by a curiously lugubrious and maddeningly indefinite conclusion. Faux-Chinatown. Very existential. Very 70s.


Melanie Griffith in her first and still her most explicit screen nudity.

Jennifer Warren
Susan Clark
Movie Clip A Melanie Griffith's entire nude swimming scene. Zipped .wmv 13 meg
Movie Clip B This has nothing to do with nudity. It's just a great stunt. Zipped .wmv 6 meg
'Caps and comments by Hankster:
First we keep the Time Machine on 1981 to finish "Body Heat" with Kathleen Turner.
Kathleen made a name for herself in this movie with a sultry sexy performance that is hard to top by any mainstream actress. Did she show a lot? No. But the woman just oozes sex appeal with gorgeous legs, hot and sweaty small tits with nipples like pencil erasers and a great ass. Go back and watch this one again, it has held up well with time.

Today we took the old Time Machine all the way back to 1967 and the pleasure of seeing one the all time great beauties in cinema history, Catherine Deneuve in "Belle Du Jour".
For me a big plus is that this oh so attractive and sensual woman actually wound up as a "Babe in Bondage" in some dream sequences from the movie, being tied, whipped and having mud thrown on her. The rest are various sexy scenes of short skirts and lingerie. Sadly, no real nudity, but I can live with that.


Comments and caps by Dann:

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. Yes, this 2002 horror film is B-movie all the way, but even so the acting seemed extra-lame and stilted, and the story was OK but not great. The up side is there were some attractive young women doing plenty of topless nudity, and that helped a little.

The story is that in 1969, a hippie cult leader (played by RATT's Stephen Pearcy) suddenly went nuts and killed a bunch of his followers. This took place in a remote campsite called Camp Utopia.

Fast forward to the present, and five college students, whose characters were so annoying that they deserved killing, go to good ole' Camp Utopia for a camping weekend. Guess what?....they start dying. Big surprise.

You get the picture. Not great, even for a B-movie, but still fun to watch, and the nudity helped a lot. Picture quality on this thing also stunk, but there was definitely stuff worth capping.


Jessica Jordan Sarah Meghan White Athena Demos
Seņor Piel
Lisa Marie Janke in a German stage production of Othello.

Nudity Hall of Famer Jennifer Jason Leigh in 1991's Rush


Tuna's condition is stable. Nothing new to report. If you'd like to get in touch with him, his email address is

Movie Reviews


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