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Hollywood Veteran: Reel Life with Arthur Penn

One of the 'other voices' of EIFF's They Might Be Giants retrospective will be heard when the legendary director of Night Moves, Arthur Penn, appears in a Reel Life interview. Penn remains best known ...

One of the 'other voices' of EIFF's They Might Be Giants retrospective will be heard when the legendary director of Night Moves, Arthur Penn, appears in a Reel Life interview.

Penn remains best known for 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde, which garnered one of his three Academy Award® nominations in that decade. Yet his output during this period was incredibly diverse in both subject matter and style; from moving drama The Miracle Worker; through the surreal and arresting Mickey One; to the musically inspired study of counterculture, Alice’s Restaurant.

His pioneering work in the 1960s helped pave the way for the vanguard of New American Cinema, with his French New Wave informed aesthetic and fierce independence. He clashed with actors and producers alike and was fired from 1966’s The Chase, the film being re-cut before release.

At this point, Penn began methodically selecting his projects and would return to theatre direction rather than churn out Hollywood product. Following 1970’s Little Big Man, as the American cinematic landscape was changing around him, he took something of a hiatus from Hollywood.

He returned in 1975 with a noir masterpiece, which became a classic of New American Cinema. Night Moves features Gene Hackman as former sports star turned private detective, Harry Moseby, hired to find the wayward daughter of a faded Hollywood actress. 

Hackman delivers one of his finest performances; Moseby is as conflicted and uncertain as The French Connection’s Popeye Doyle is uncompromising and bullish, his attempts to make sense of the mystery at odds with his disintegrating personal life. Writer Alan Sharp created a progressively convoluted narrative, making the brutal resolution all the more startling.

The following year Penn directed The Missouri Breaks, an eclectic western starring Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando, as a horse thief and eccentric mercenary respectively. Like Night Moves it was largely unappreciated at the time. Penn worked only sparingly thereafter, eventually eschewing Hollywood in favour of award-winning television work.

The opportunity to see Night Moves theatrically and hear Penn discuss his incredible body of work should not be missed.

 

Night Moves and Reel Life: Arthur Penn are on 24 August at Filmhouse.

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