Last Heartthrob
The Gunshots and the Femme Fatale Extras

nightmovesposterMovie: Night Moves (1975)

In the finale, we come full circle, returning to the gunshots of the prologue and discovering what they mean. We also come full circle with Gene Hackman.

"I was reminded of another Gene Hackman character named Harry. That would be Harry Caul, from Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974). Caul is a high-tech investigator who bugs people and eavesdrops on conversations and is fanatic and paranoid and, like Moseby, not nearly as clever as he needs to be. Harry Caul has his workplace invaded by a competitor, he's fooled by a hidden microphone in a ball-point pen, he gets calls on his unlisted number, his landlord walks right past the security system in his apartment, and although he has a tape recording of a crucial conversation, he has no idea what it means...

"What [Gene Hackman] brings to Night Moves is crucial; he must be absolutely sure of his identity as a free-lance gumshoe, even while all of his craft is useless and all of his hunches are based on ignorance of the big picture. Maybe the movie is saying that the old film noir faith is dead, that although in Chandler's words 'down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid,' when this man goes down those streets he is blind-sided by a plot that has no respect for him."–Roger Ebert

Discussion

1. Arlene Iverson: Are you the kind of detective who, once you get on a case nothing can get you off it? Bribes, beatings, the allure of a woman...

Harry Moseby: That was true in the old days. Before we had a union.

Harry Moseby’s problem in Night Moves is not that he’s different from the white knight detectives of noir, but that his clients are. Sure he can find Arlene Iverson’s runaway daughter and bring her back so that mom can continue controlling her daughter’s money. Does the moral complication that the successful completion of a detective’s task might do more harm than good make a noir plot more or less interesting and why?

2. Unlike most noir detectives, Harry Moseby is married. His wife is unfaithful. He is subsequently unfaithful. In traditional films noir, the morality of one’s decisions often led to a fateful outcome. How does this film’s ending, and especially its final shot, reflect the moral ambiguity of all of its characters, especially Moseby’s, and did you find it effective?

3. Arthur Penn’s Bonnie & Clyde (1967) was considered a ground-breaking New Hollywood film. The Motion Picture Production Code soon after gave way to the current rating system, which ceded the parental responsibility of the industry to, well, parents. There is much about Night Moves that would not have met with the approval of the code. Laura (1944), The Narrow Margin (1952), Double Indemnity (1944), The Hitch-Hiker (1953), North by Northwest (1959), Vertigo (1958), and In a Lonely Place (1950) had to contend with the code. The Conversation (1974), The Big Lebowski (1998), Mulholland Dr. (2001), The Player (1992), and Night Moves (1975) did not. Do you think that the filmmakers who had to contend with the Hays Code would have made better pictures without it?

Send your answers in and I'll share them. Just make sure you don't use air mail or they might end up in the drink.


Music

The episode “Did My Heart Skip a Beat?” included a link to the song Rodgers & Hart tune “Where or When?” that Tom and Madeleine heard at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Do you think that Walter Forbes or Lorenz Hart offers a better explanation for Tom and Madeleine’s déjà vu?

P.S. I can't believe Shelby Lydecker picked out Tom's sweater vest.


The Aha Moment (Contains Spoilers)

If you're interested in where I got the idea for this story.


bridgeportScene of the Crime

A pivotal scene in "The Gunshots and the Femme Fatale" takes place in The Kearney Lofts.

It's a short stroll from the Bridgeport Brew Pub at 1313 NW Marshall.

"BridgePort BrewPub is attached to Oregon's oldest craft brewery founded in 1984. We focus on classic English Ales and rotating seasonal taps that reflect local beer making techniques and ingredients. We are located in the heart of the Pearl District in an industrial 19th century building that was remodeled into a full service restaurant and pub in 2005. Along with handcrafted ales, we offer a cocktail and wine list."



Seriously, please drop me a line and let me know what you thought.

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