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Harper Reviews

Based on Ross MacDonald's novel The Moving Target, HARPER showcases Paul Newman in the role of Lew Harper, a down-on-his-luck but ultra hip Los Angeles private eye hired by the cynical Mrs. Sampson (Bacall) to track down her missing and very wealthy husband. The trail leading to Mr. Sampson is laden with strange characters and brings more than a few bumps and bruises Harper's way. His snooping takes him from an over-the-hill actress (Winters) to a junkie nightclub chanteuse (Harris) and from a religious zealot (Martin) to a smuggling operation. William Goldman's adaptation of MacDonald's novel--his first solo screenwriting credit--is full of rapid-fire dialogue but some of the characterizations are thin. Despite all the big names involved, HARPER doesn't begin to approach the big leagues of hard-boiled detective films. Nonetheless, Newman gives a convincing performance in a role he would repeat nearly ten years later in THE DROWNING POOL.