Night Moves is one of the great thrillers of the 1970s.
Gene Hackman stars as former pro-football star Harry Moseby, now a small-time LA private detective, who’s hired by fading actress Arlene Iverson (Janet Ward) to track down her wayward daughter, the baby-voiced nympho, Delly (a very young Melanie Griffith in her film debut) – a job that embroils him in the family’s affairs.
Moseby is emotionally distracted when he catches his wife Ellen (Susan Black) in an affair, and misses a few clues when he finally tracks Delly to her ex-stepfather’s charter plane service in the Florida Keys.
He’s attracted to Paula (Jennifer Warren), an independent woman with a shady past, and foolishly thinks that what he sees is how things really are.
Despite its title, this brilliantly self-conscious gumshoe movie by director Arthur Penn lights up a time of post-Watergate confusion as weary private eye Moseby undertakes a bleak, pointless quest, encapsulated by the final shot of a boat going round in circles.
But along the way, there’s plenty of sour wit in Alan Sharp’s sparkling script.