Harper (The Moving Target) (1966)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Screenwriter William Goldman has claimed that Paul Newman agreed to do Harper, the film that established the grateful writer's career, only because he was working unhappily on Lady L. (1965) in Europe, and was looking for something as unlike that film as possible. He stars as Lew Harper, a hip L.A. private dick whose business has gotten so bad that he's re-using his coffee grounds. At the suggestion of his friend, attorney Albert Graves (Arthur Hill), the detective takes on the investigation of the disappearance of the wealthy husband of waspish cripple Elaine Sampson (Lauren Bacall). After finding a photograph of former actress Fay Estabrook (Shelley Winters), Harper locates the alcoholic actress in a bar, plies her with booze, and takes her home to search her apartment while she's unconscious. There he takes a call which leads him to another bar to meet Betty Fraley (Julie Harris), a singer with a heroin problem. To curtail his inquisitive behavior, some large and unpleasant gentleman beat him up outside the saloon. Hoping for sympathy from his soon to be ex-wife (Janet Leigh), who has just filed divorce papers, the weary detective is much more successful than he has any right to expect.
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Bros.

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Paul Newman
as Lew Harper
Lauren Bacall
as Mrs. Simpson
Julie Harris
as Betty Fraley
Pamela Tiffin
as Miranda Simpson
Arthur Hill
as Albert Graves
Janet Leigh
as Susan Harper
Robert Wagner
as Alan Traggert
Robert Webber
as Dwight Troy
Shelley Winters
as Fay Estabrook
Harold Gould
as Sheriff Spanner
Roy Jenson
as Puddler
Martin West
as Deputy
Jacqueline de Wit
as Mrs. Kronberg
Richard Carlyle
as Fred Platt
Tom Steele
as Eddie Fraley
China Lee
as Dancer
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Critic Reviews for Harper (The Moving Target)

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (4)

By combining flamboyant suspense with a sunbaked slice of life and lots of good mean fun, Director Smight makes every clue a pleasure to follow.

Full Review… | September 29, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Director Jack Smight has inserted countless touches which illuminate each character to the highest degree.

Full Review… | September 29, 2008
Top Critic

Enjoyable performances throughout. Just the same, a very minor Big Sleep.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

[Newman] is too fresh, too ruggedly good looking to be consistent as the sort of beat-up slob that his shady detective is intended to be and as Mr. Bogart used to be.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

A star-driven Paul Newman crime mystery drama.

Full Review… | November 2, 2014
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Supported by colorful characters (played by Lauren Bacall, Shelley Winters, Julie Harris), Paul Newman gives a solid performance in his first private detective role, which catapulted him to major stardom and brought the genre back to the mainstream.

Full Review… | November 27, 2008

Audience Reviews for Harper (The Moving Target)

No more no less than a sixties update on Philip Marlowe, with dinner theater lines given good location shooting. The mystery is only a matter of eliminating the obvious which leaves the charisma of the actors involved to carry the piece. Newman has fun as Mar ... er ... the gumshoe. Bacall is no longer the rich man's daughter but now his disgruntled wife although essentially the same character. Strother Martin as a cult leader is without a doubt just a fun casting choice.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Harper has quite the pedigree, it stars Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Janet Leigh, Robert Wagner, Jacqueline de Witt AND Shelley Winters. It has a screenplay by Bill Goldman that's kind of a 60's "James Bond Cool" version of a Bogart detective film. Not only that it's shot by Conrad Hall! How can this not be awesome? *Shrug* The film ends up bumbling it's awesome ingredients and turns out to be a very passable, but unremarkable Who-Dun-It. C'est la vie

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

A predictable detective story enriched by Paul Newman's stylish performance :P A few minutes into it and you'd probably know who the perpetrator is.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

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