Night Moves (1975) Arthur Penn

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Night Moves (1975)
Directed by Arthur Penn
Produced by Robert M. Sherman
Written by Alan Sharp
Music by Michael Small
Cinematography by Bruce Surtees
Edited by Dede Allen, Stephan A. Rotter
Warner DVD – Interlibrary loan (1:39)
Recently released on Blu-ray from Warner Archive

In the first half of Night Moves, private detective Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman) is showing a woman named Paula (Jennifer Warren) a sequence of chess moves from a famous match originally played in the 1920s.

“It’s a beauty,” Paula says after Harry shows her the sequence again.

“Yeah,” Harry replies, “but he didn’t see it. He played something else and he lost. Must’ve regretted it every day of his life. I know I would have.”

In a way, I’ve just given away everything about Arthur Penn’s brilliant neo-noir Night Moves, and then again I’ve given away nothing. Night Moves is one of those movies that’s been largely overlooked for the past 40 years, at least by the majority of the moviegoing public (and sometimes even Gene Hackman fans). It’s a great film for many reasons (which I’ll elaborate on in a moment), but it demands from the viewer a patient and careful eye. It also requires at least two viewings (this was my third) to fully appreciate its wonders, and for a 40-year-old film, that’s asking a lot. Yet the rewards are tremendous.

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Hard Times (1975) Walter Hill

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Hard Times (1975) Walter Hill
Amazon streaming (now expired) (1:33)

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I’ve been a fan of director Walter Hill for years, but until recently I’d never seen his first film Hard Times. Charles Bronson (above) plays Chaney, a drifter who gets where he’s going by slipping on and off boxcars in the Depression era, picking up a few bucks in pick-up fights before moving on to the next town. A shifty promoter called Speed (James Coburn, below right) sees how Chaney’s fighting skills could help him get out of the financial hole he’s in with a loan shark.

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I can’t top Kristina’s excellent review of this film over at Speakeasy, so I highly recommend you check it out if you want to know more.  Instead, I’d like to dwell for just a moment on Walter Hill.

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Cooley High (1975) Michael Schultz

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Cooley High (1975)
American International Pictures
Directed by Michael Schultz
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff, Steve Krantz
Written by Eric Monte
Cinematography by Paul Vombrack
Edited by Christopher Holmes
(1:47)
Olive Films
Library DVD

It’s been called “The Black American Graffiti,” which is only moderately accurate and a mostly unfair comparison, but it is something of a starting point. While writer Eric Monte certainly could have been influenced by American Graffiti (released in 1973), Cooley High, doesn’t feel like a ripoff.

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