Noir September: Night Moves (1975)/The Long Goodbye (1973)

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Ellen Moseby: [of a football game] Who’s winning?

Harry Moseby: Nobody. One side is just losing slower than the other.

 

Harry Moseby cracks wise all through Night Moves. That Gene Hackman grin is always at the ready, defusing tight situations. But Harry is an angry man. You see flashes of it, when he’s pushed too far—or when he feels cuckolded. He used to channel that anger into football. But that’s gone. Now he seems like a man who doesn’t know where to put it or what to do with it. His life isn’t working out and he knows it. People, including those he trusts most, let him down. Beneath his sardonic patter, he’s an optimist. He wants to believe in the better aspects of human nature. He might even be a romantic. Why else would he cling to the quixotic fantasy of being a private eye on his own? “Take a swing at me, Harry,” his wife’s lover tells him. “Like Sam Spade would.”

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Noir September: Out of the Past (1947)/Detour (1945)

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September is the month when summer fades—and the night begins again to take hold. So what better time to screen some classic—and less than classic—examples of film noir?

Until then I had done things my way, but from then on something stepped in and shunted me off to a different destination than the one I’d picked for myself.—Al Roberts, Detour

If anything defines a noir sensibility, it’s the notion that at some point, you lose control over your fate—if indeed you ever had it. And typically, it’s an outside force—a woman, a bad deal, an unlucky break, a stranger, that sends the protagonist spinning down to his doom.

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