Monday, 4 January 2016

Harper (1966)

"Tell me about Sampson's disappearance"

"He disappeared"

Lew Harper (Paul Newman) is a private investigator, his wife is asking for a divorce and he sleeps in his office, an old friend asks him to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy man. At first the case seems ridiculous, the man has only been missing for one night, and is disliked by both family and friends, but as Harper investigates further it becomes apparent that this is a complex case involving kidnapping, extortion and murder.

(This poster is rather amusing if you read it!)

Harper was one of a series of successful films starting with the letter 'H' for Paul Newman, others included, The Hustler, Hud and Hombre. A slick caper with witty, sarcastic dialogue a selection of cold hearted characters and unexpected twists and turns, Harper was a hit at the box office and became the 23rd highest grossing film for 1966. Harper feels like what the James Bond films could have been had they reached the same level of cool and smarts.

The film costars Lauren Bacall, Julie Harris, Janet Leigh, Pamela Tiffin, Shelley Winters and Robert Wagner. The real star is of course Newman. He's ridiculously cool and has a quip for any situation, at first he seems detached from everyone however as the film progresses a more human side is revealed. His dedication to his job has alienated him from those he loves but he is always determined to 'get the job done'. He is pitied against a group of characters who have their own selfish motives and lead shallow lives, Bacall is a former horse riding champion who has lost the use of her legs, Tiffin is her conceited step-daughter and Wagner is the pilot who seems to have connections to all involved. Harper figures them all out, though not even he will be able to guess the ending!


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