Moseby Confidential


From Jorvik Press

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This definitive study of Arthur Penn’s Night Moves (1975) is the first extended monograph on this 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Author Matthew Asprey Gear draws on a wealth of new and unpublished archival interviews with key cast and crew members and witnesses to the production of one of the last radical private eye films of the period, starring Gene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.

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“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

“The final word on Night Moves. One reads far too many monographs on films that are barely worth a capsule review, let alone thousands of words. This is why Moseby Confidential is so refreshing: the importance of the subject matches the quality of the work. Not only does the author intimately reconstruct the forces that came together to create this seminal film, he did it in a highly readable, authoritative way. This is not some navel-gazing pedant’s analysis, it’s an adventure story about making a key film in the detective genre. It catches and explores the cultural and cinematic overtones of Night Moves and confirms the quality of the talent that Arthur Penn, Alan Sharp, Dede Allen, and their collaborators devoted to this complex film.” – Nat Segaloff, author of Arthur Penn: American Director

Read an extract from Moseby Confidential: Arthur Penn’s Night Moves and the Rise of Neo-Noir at Bright Lights Film Journal: The Birth of Night Moves: Alan Sharp on the Edge of America


Tony Williams at Film International
Jonathan Kirshner at Midcentury Cinema
Andrew Nette at Pulp Curry
Don Herron at Up and Down These Mean Streets
Andy Wolverton at Journeys in Darkness and Light

Podcast interviews

The Projection Booth (26 Sept 2019)
Films(trips) (31 Aug 2019)
Filmwax Radio, Episode 563 (4 Jul 2019)

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