1934 - 2013
Novelist and screenwriter Alan Sharp passed away last Friday at the age of seventy-nine. Though he established himself as an exciting young writer in Scotland during the 1960s, he is probably best known for scripting three of the more underrated films of the 1970s: THE HIRED HAND, ULZANA'S RAID and Arthur Penn's masterful NIGHT MOVES.
It's been years since I watched THE HIRED HAND (Peter Fonda's directorial debut), THE LAST RUN (a solid Richard Fleischer crime drama) and ULZANA'S RAID (a fine late-period western from Robert Aldrich), but NIGHT MOVES is a film I revisit often. Gene Hackman stars as Harry Moseby, a private detective whose personal life is slowly deteriorating. He's hired by an aging starlet to track down her runaway sixteen-year-old daughter (played by Melanie Griffith), but soon gets caught up in a web of personal and professional intrigue that's as disorienting for the audience as it is Harry. NIGHT MOVES is a great, twisty film noir, featuring deft direction from Penn and yet another amazing performance from Hackman. But it's Sharp's casually labyrinthine plotting that brings you back to the film again and again. Like many of the great detective yarns, it's hard (maybe impossible) to make complete, airtight sense of the narrative; it's a puzzle that might intentionally be missing a piece or two. And while the dialogue isn't endlessly quotable the way Chandler's was, Sharp did provide Eric Rohmer detractors with a brutal dismissal of the French auteur's movies. When asked by his wife if he'd like to see MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S, Hackman responds, "I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kinda like watching paint dry."
Sharp also wrote the post-apocalyptic cult classic DAMNATION ALLEY, which features The Landmaster aka the armored vehicle of my dreams. It's a goofy flick, but lots of fun if you're willing to trade off scientific accuracy for killer cockroaches - and you should.
Sharp's career peaked in the '70s, but there were a couple of notable films in the '80s and '90s. He adapted Robert Ludlum's THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND for a disinterested and near-death Sam Peckinpah; the film's a bit of a mess, but Peckinpah on the ropes is still worth watching. Sharp also wrote 1995's ROB ROY, which starred Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange and a deliciously evil Tim Roth. It's a bit long, but the final duel between Neeson and Roth is enormously satisfying.
If you're looking to pay tribute to Alan Sharp this week, I heartily recommend NIGHT MOVES. It's available to rent via Amazon.
Our condolences go out to Mr. Sharp's family and friends.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
- Microsoft's Reveal Of The Next XBOX Is Upon Us, And Streaming Here!! -- 173 total posts 173 posts
- Has STAR WARS EPISODE VII Landed Its First Non-OT Cast Member? -- 443 total posts 145 posts
- The New WOLVERINE Trailer Brings Forth More Jean Grey!! -- 134 total posts 134 posts
- Harry dives into STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS' spoilers to reveal the truth behind the blockbuster we're seeing! -- 1203 total posts 102 posts
- Steven Seagal might be joining THE EXPENDABLES 3!! -- 245 total posts 92 posts
- Harry's 21st Picks & Peeks of 2013 has MEDIUM COOL, THE LAST STAND, THE BURNING, BATMAN, MIYAZAKI Blus and more!!! -- 49 total posts 49 posts
- Nordling Reviews STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS! Spoilers Abound! You Are Warned! -- 1349 total posts 43 posts
That’s Larry David??
HBO’s Promo For
CLEAR HISTORY!! -- 23 total posts 23 posts
- John Ary's Video Review Of The New CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990) Blu-ray!! -- 193 total posts 21 posts
- Kurt Russell and Timothy Olyphant sign up to throw a BONE TOMAHAWK!!! -- 112 total posts 18 posts