Category Archives: Arthur Penn

Blu-Ray Review: Night Moves (1975).

Directed by Arthur Penn
Written by Alan Sharp
Director Of Photography: Bruce Surtees
Film Editor: Dede Allen
Music by Michael Small

Cast: Gene Hackman (Harry Moseby), Jennifer Warren (Paula), Edward Binns (Joey Ziegler), Harris Yulin (Marty Heller), Kenneth Mars (Nick), Janet Ward (Arlene Iverson), James Woods (Quentin), Anthony Costello (Marv Ellman), John Crawford (Tom Iverson), Melanie Griffith (Delly Grastner), Susan Clark (Ellen Moseby)

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The Seventies were an interesting time for film noir and private eye movies. Surprisingly, there were plenty of them — pictures like Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973), Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974), Stuart Rosenberg’s The Drowning Pool (1975) and Arthur Penn’s Night Moves (1975). They all seemed to drag the genres into a decade they seemed very much at odds with. By this time, both noir and PI movies had seen their conventions spoofed time and time again — and each director headed in a different direction.

But with the 70s a decade marked by cynicism, doesn’t it make sense that noir would emerge from the shadows?

In Penn’s case, with Night Moves, it looks like he decided to make his football-player-turned-detective (with a gorgeous 1967 Mustang), Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman), every bit as messed up as the dysfunctional family he’s hired to help sort out. He turns out to be just as lost as the young girl (Melanie Griffith) he’s trying to track down. And that’s what sets this one apart — Moseby’s investigation and introspection get all twisted together before it’s over with. Alan Sharp’s wonderful script juggles this effortlessly.

Hackman’s really terrific in this. His Moseby is a burned out guy you somehow can’t help but care about, even as you question a number of the choices he makes along the way. This is one of Hackman’s better performances, and he isn’t lacking for great performances.

You hear a lot about this being Melanie Griffith’s first movie (and that she’s naked quite a bit), but it’s Jennifer Warren that stands out to me. Paula’s a long way from the femme fatale we’re used to, but just as dangerous. Warren also played Paul Newman’s wife Francine in Slap Shot (1977). She didn’t have a tremendous amount of screen time in that one, but she was really good.

In a lot of PI movies, the plot sort of meanders along, often a bit incoherently, towards a conclusion that tries to wrap up (almost) everything. Night Moves weaves its lost girl/murder plot and character study together seamlessly, waiting for just the right moment to do so. Arthur Penn really amazes me sometimes. This is one of those times.

Night Moves didn’t do well upon its original release. Something called Jaws opened about the same time. Maybe it was too downbeat, maybe it was just too good, to be successful. Feel good hit of the year it ain’t.

But there’s plenty to feel good about with the new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. It’s splendid. Seventies movies have a look all their own, and that’s preserved here flawlessly. This one has the added benefit of having been photographed by the great Bruce Surtees (who shot a number of my favorite films, from Dirty Harry to The Shootist). The disc includes a trailer and a production short from back in the day.

It’s easy to recommend Night Moves. And for fans of the movie, I can’t imagine you not springing for this Blu-Ray.

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Filed under 1975, Arthur Penn, Bruce Surtees, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Gene Hackman, Warner Archive, Warner Bros.

Screening: Bonnie And Clyde (1967) 50th Anniversary.

Directed by Arthur Penn
Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Gene Wilder

Bonnie And Clyde (1967) is one of those movies my whole family loves. What does that say about us? Anyway, we’re all excited about the 50th anniversary screenings coming this August from Turner Classic Movies. My wife came across the link today, and you can already buy tickets.

So, does this mean we can count on Warner Bros. and TCM to bring Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) back in a couple years?

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Filed under 1967, Arthur Penn, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder, Sam Peckinpah, Screenings, Warren Beatty

Making Movies: Bonnie And Clyde (1967).

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I’ve always loved Bonnie And Clyde (1967) — and always been fascinated by how it all came about.

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Here’s Arthur Penn, Gene Hackman and Warren Beatty — obviously shooting the scene where Buck Barrow gets shot.

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This one spares me the trouble of writing anything.

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This is the scene where Bonnie and Clyde meet C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard).

Ranchman Cafe ad

The real Bonnie and Clyde robbed the bank in Ponder, Texas. The Ranchman Cafe ran this ad after the movie people came to town. The cafe is still there — and they claim John Wayne ate there, too.

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One of the great achievements of Bonnie And Clyde, as I see it, is how well it captures the rural Texas way of life. My grandparents lived in Strawn — not far from the National Guard Armory in Ranger, robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. Aside from all the shooting, the movie feels a lot like my summer visits to towns like Strawn, Breckenridge and Albany.

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It (and The Beverly Hillbillies) also introduced me to bluegrass.

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Filed under 1967, Arthur Penn, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, John Wayne, Making Movies, Warren Beatty

Screening: Bonnie And Clyde (1967).

'Bonnie And Clyde' Film - 1967

Directed by Arthur Penn
Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Gene Wilder

March 21, 2015
6:30 PM (Film at 8 PM)
Million Dollar Theatre, Los Angeles

Bonnie And Clyde (1967) is one of my favorite films. And this screening sounds terrific. It’s at the landmark Million Dollar Theatre, the first movie palace built by Sid Grauman. Before the show, there’ll be live jazz and ragtime by the California Feetwarmers.

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Filed under 1967, Arthur Penn, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Screenings, Warren Beatty

Dialogue Of The Day: Bonnie And Clyde (1967).

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Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty): “See that foot? I chopped two toes off that foot, with an exe, to get off work detail. You wanna see it?”

Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway): “I surely don’t intend to stand here in the middle of Main Street and look at your dirty feet!”

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Filed under 1967, Arthur Penn, Dialogue Of The Day, Faye Dunaway, Warren Beatty