Moseby Confidential: Arthur Penn’s Night Moves and the Rise of Neo-Noir



There is little doubt that Moseby Confidential will become an essential resource for anyone with an interest in Night Moves, as well as neo-noir, and the seventies film more generally. Diligently researched with close attention to the existing literature, archival material and supplemented by new interviews (including with Clark and Warren, and relatives of Penn and Sharp), Gear uncovers information about the movie’s development, production, and post-production that will be eye-openers for even the most avid fans of the film.                      – Jonathan Kirshner, MidCenturyCinema

This definitive study of Arthur Penn’s Night Moves is the first extended monograph on the cult classic, which is often singled out as one of the great irreverent neo-noir movies of mid-1970s New Hollywood, alongside Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye and Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.

Author Matthew Asprey Gear draws on a wealth of new and unpublished archival interviews with key cast and crew members and witnesses to the production of one of the last radical private eye films of the period, starring Gene Hackman, Melanie Griffith and Jennifer Warren.

Moseby Confidential tells the story of the fraught collaboration between two artists of very different sensibilities – Scottish scriptwriter Alan Sharp, the hopeless fatalist; American director Arthur Penn, the agitating progressive. They came together in 1973 to make a dark film about an America bereft of answers. Everything seemed in place for a triumph. Finally, in careers plagued by compromise, there was both an adequate budget and artistic freedom.

Gene Hackman’s performance would expertly particularize an archetype fracturing before our eyes – the knightly private detective unable to solve his case, the macho American male desperate for certainty but lost at sea. But neither Penn nor Sharp was satisfied with the resulting movie and disagreed over its final form.

After a long delay, Warner Brothers cut its losses and dumped Night Moves into cinemas with a half-hearted publicity campaign. The movie’s reviews were mixed and it failed to make a profit in the summer of 1975. That season was dominated by Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, which provided Hollywood with a new and super-profitable model of film production.

Yet Night Moves is now recognized as one of the defining films of the 1970s, both as a profound human drama and as an enduring evocation of the zeitgeist. This Technicolor neo-noir helped reinvent and redeem the private detective movie, while offering deep and disturbing insight into the moral ambiguities of the Watergate era.

Title: Moseby Confidential:
Arthur Penn’s Night Moves and the Rise of Neo-Noir
ISBN-13: 978-0-9863770-8-2
Publication date: May 15, 2019
List Price: US $18.95; UK £14.95; EU €16.95
Size: Trade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
178 pages; Black & White; Illustrated
BISAC: Film & Video: History & Criticism

Paperback at,, Book Depository

Orson Welles, ‘V. I. P.’, and other discoveries in Turin

Two Wellesnet reports on my recent Orson Welles archival research in Turin.


by Matthew Asprey Gear

A few weeks ago I visited Italy’s Museo Nazionale Del Cinema in Turin on a research project under the sponsorship of the Ernest Hemingway Society. While there I not only made significant discoveries to aid my project, but also had the chance to survey the highlights of a largely unexplored archive that should excite all Wellesians….

Read more


by Ray Kelly:

A previously unknown English-language novel credited to Orson Welles has been discovered in the archives of the National Museum of Cinema in Turin.

The bound hardcover typescript of V.I.P. ― mistakenly cataloged at one point by the museum as a treatment for the movie The V.I.P.’s  or V.I.P ― is an English version of Welles’ French novel Une Grosse Legume (A Big Shot), translated by Maurice Bessy and published by Gallimard Editions of Paris in 1953, according to Matthew Asprey Gear, author of At The End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City.

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Appearance: John Updike Society in Belgrade


On June 4 I presented a paper “Mustered Opinions: John Updike’s Non-
Fiction Collections” at the Fifth Biennial John Updike Society Conference at the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade in Serbia.
The abstract:

John Updike was one of the most wide-ranging and conscientious book reviewers in the history of American publishing. For half a century he operated as a “psychotic Santa of volubility” (in the words of Martin Amis), producing hundreds of reviews and occasional essays for the New Yorker and other publications.

Updike assembled compendiums of this non-fictional prose at regular intervals throughout his career: Assorted Prose (1965), Picked-Up Pieces (1975), Hugging the Shore (1983), Odd Jobs (1991), More Matter (1999), and Due Considerations (2007). Despite the seeming modesty of their titles, and the mock-apologetic tone of their prefaces, these collections are enormously ambitious and comprehensive.

This paper critically examines Updike’s methods of collating his non-fictional prose, the efforts of a meticulous self-anthologist building a uniform oeuvre. It will discuss critical responses to Updike’s collections, as well as contrasting publication practices by contemporary essayists including Anthony Burgess and Gore Vidal.

The program of the conference is HERE

Recent Publications & Appearances



Two contributions to a beautifully illustrated book edited by Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre called Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980 (Oakland: PM Press, 2017). 

The first is a long essay on Evan Hunter’s contributions to the juvenile deliquency genre including The Blackboard Jungle (1954), A Matter of Conviction (1959) and The Jungle Kids (1956).

The other is an interview with the fascinating and under-appreciated American writer Floyd Salas, conducted in collaboration with Andrew Nette: ‘Whoever Was In Control Was The One To Watch‘.



A study of Orson Welles’s screen adaptation of The Trial in Jim Craddock (ed.), Books to Film: Cinematic Adaptations of Literary Works, Volume 1 (Boston: Gale Cengage Learning, 2017).



A paper presented at the Anthony Burgess: Life, Work, Reputation conference at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester (3-5 July 2017).

Publication forthcoming.



Adrian Martin’s article ‘What is Literary Cinephilia?’, which discusses the special ‘Writers at the Movies’ issue of Contrappasso Magazine (2015) edited by Noel King and Matthew Asprey Gear, appeared in the May 2017 issue of Sight and Sound, pp. 56-57.

At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Review by Film International


Tony William’s long review of At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City, appeared in Film International (vol. 14, no. 2).

He writes:

Amazingly, the author has not only brought a new positive slant to those frequent academic cityscape studies that now flood the critical landscape, but has also added some relevant aesthetic, cultural and political innovations to the field of Welles studies that distinguish this treatment in its own right as well as provoke insightful readings of neglected films, such as The Trial (1962)…. Far more modest in scope in comparison to recent mega-page studies of Welles, it nevertheless supplies some very important innovations to understanding the director’s work that will make it yet another additional ‘essential reading’ in the critical canon….the book provides both a wealth of new information and fascinating evaluations and
interpretations… a work that is both innovative and original.