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Night Moves Movie: Arthur Penn Academy Tribute

Night Moves movie Gene HackmanNight Moves movie with Gene Hackman. Arthur Penn directed.

Gene Hackman in ‘Night Moves’ movie: Arthur Penn Academy tribute

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will host a special screening of Arthur Penn’s 1975 crime drama Night Moves, starring Gene Hackman. The screening, to be held on Thursday, Nov. 17, in New York City, will be part of a tribute to three-time Oscar-nominated director Penn.

The 83-year-old Arthur Penn, whose movie credits include The Miracle Worker, Bonnie and Clyde, and Little Big Man, will be in attendance. The event is open to Academy members and invited guests.

According to the Academy’s press release, the evening will feature “a conversation with Penn and will highlight his career through clips and special guests.” Among the latter are screenwriter Walter Bernstein (Fail-Safe, The Front), Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde), and producer Julian Schlossberg (No Nukes, Whore 2).

‘Night Moves’: 1975 neo-noir

One of Arthur Penn’s lesser-known efforts, Night Moves stars Gene Hackman as retired football player and world-weary private investigator Harry Moseby. Things get complicated after Moseby is hired by a former Hollywood starlet (Janet Ward) to find her runaway daughter (Melanie Griffith).

Released by Warner Bros., Night Moves was produced by Robert M. Sherman (who would reteam with Penn on The Missouri Breaks) and written by Alan Sharp. The film’s editor was Dede Allen, who had previously worked with Penn on Bonnie and Clyde, Alice’s Restaurant, and Little Big Man.

Also in the Night Moves cast:

Jennifer Warren. Susan Clark. Edward Binns. Harris Yulin. Kenneth Mars. James Woods. Anthony Costello. John Crawford. Dennis Dugan.

Future Best Actress Oscar nominee Melanie Griffith (Working Girl) made her official film debut in the film.*

The Miracle Worker Anne Bancroft Patty Duke‘The Miracle Worker’ with Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke under the direction of Arthur Penn.

Arthur Penn movies

During his 55-year show business career, Arthur Penn directed movies, plays, and television productions. His three Best Director Academy Award nominations were for the following movies:

  • The Miracle Worker (1962), a highly theatrical retelling of the story of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller, which Penn had previously directed on Broadway. The film earned Academy Awards for Best Actress Anne Bancroft (as Sullivan) and Best Supporting Actress Patty Duke (as Keller), both of whom reprising their Broadway roles.
  • The now tame but at the time groundbreakingly violent blockbuster Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Set in the 1930s, the crime drama stars Oscar nominees Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, and Michael J. Pollard. In addition to Oscar winner Estelle Parsons.
  • Alice’s Restaurant (1969), a nearly plotless film adaptation of the Arlo Guthrie song. Guthrie himself was cast as the lead.

Arthur Penn’s other feature films include:

  • The costly box office bomb The Chase (1966). Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, and Jane Fonda star in this harsh critique of American society.
  • The offbeat Western Little Big Man (1970), toplining Dustin Hoffman. The box office and critical hit also features Faye Dunaway in a secondary role, and earned Chief Dan George a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
  • The Marlon Brando-Jack Nicholson Western misfire The Missouri Breaks (1976).
  • The underrated and little-seen sociopsychological drama Four Friends (1981), with Craig Wasson and Jodi Thelen.

Arthur Penn’s last solo effort was the poorly received and little-seen adventure comedy Penn & Teller Get Killed (1989). Additionally, he was one of the directors of the omnibus effort Lumière and Company (1995).

Tickets to the Academy’s Arthur Penn tribute and Night Moves screening are available to the public on a limited basis. For more information and ticket availability, call (888) 778-7575.

* As found on the IMDb, Melanie Griffith had played uncredited bit roles in a couple of other features: Smith! and The Harrad Experiment.

Gene Hackman Night Moves photo: Warner Bros.

Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke The Miracle Worker image: United Artists.

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