- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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- Mike McCrann
I had not seen this film since I first saw when I was in college. I didn't like it much then and watching it again this morning only confirmed what a total misfire it is. The main problem is the weak direction. Why would a major star like Paul Newman have a hack like Jack Smight helm his film? The movie just plods along and even with Lauren Bacall (very good in her few scenes) and the other stars it is boring. Poor Shelley Winters is treated the worst. When Harper finds her autographed picture in the missing man's hotel room and asks what happened to her, Robert Wagner says "she got fat." The next scene is Winters eating like a pig at a restaurant. Yes Shelley got fat later in her career and she won 2 Oscars for roles where she was overweight. And in her last gasp fat role in The Poseidon Adventure she was bloated. But in Harper her weight is just used for humor and she has no real role. Very embarrassing. And Paul Newman is pretty weak too. He just acts "cool and cynical" and he is neither. Bogart knew how to play such roles. Newman is just hammy and he think he is too cute for words. Well he is not. In the first scene of the film when he wakes up and can't find fresh coffee he stares at the discarded filter from the day before and just gives a showy mannered look that no one would do alone. His put on performance is like that from start to finish. Robert Webber, Julie Harris and Arthur Hill give pro performances and I like Pamela Tiffin even if her role makes her such a bimbo. Two hours never dragged so much as it does in this flop. I love the Ross MacDonald books but this bomb did nothing for his great body of work.
Not a remake of the Big Sleep
Actually based on Ross MacDonald's first Lew Archer novel. Follows the book pretty well, except it invents the back story with Harper's wife, and the Shelley Winter's interpretation is wrong for Fay. After reading the book was looking forward to seeing the movie. The movie disappoints, I think mostly because of the direction. Could have been a great movie with that story and that cast, still not horrible, loved the old Porsche Harper drives.
Paul Newman - Always A Pleasure!
- Raymond Banacki
Paul Newman was always a superb actor who was always far from "showy". His performance as Lew Harper in "Harper" is one of his most inspired characterizations.
- Michael Whitty
An expertly intriguing film "Harper" is a successful remake of Humphrey Bogart's "The Big Sleep" with this time Paul Newman running around the L.A. area in search of a kidnapped millionaire. Frank Sinatra was first asked to do this but declined and Newman later assumed the duties of this private-eye who finds out more than others thought. Robert Wagner, Lauren Bacall, and Janet Leigh offer support as Newman seeks out his answers. The cinematography by Conrad Hall is also first-rate as most people should have fun with this movie. Private-eye movies have their ways of concocting the plot lines but this one is easy enough to understand.
Paul Newman does Bogart, quite well.
Paul Newman was at his best pre Butch Cassidy as a detective who has seen better days and is in need of that one big case to break wide open. he finds one with a possibly kidnapped millionaire and a Rogue's gallery of possible suspects. Any of which had involvement in the crime or have it in for Harper.
- kevin sellers
Yeah, Bryan, I think you're right. Same seedy office, bad coffee, general air of second rateness. Good observation. I also agree that both films are good without being great.. The main difference is that Caine is a better actor than Newman, in my opinion, simply because he had more range. Don't think Newman was ever capable of portraying cold blooded villainy like Caine could in films like "Dressed To Kill" and "Get Carter."
Is it just me?
- Byron Sutter
Is it just me or does anyone else recognize the opening sequence as a parody of the opening sequence in The Ipcress File? Harper was released just a few months after The Ipcress File. I saw both films while in college and immediately made the connection between the two films. It seems that no one else with whom I have discussed this makes the connection. I love both films. They are well crafted with excellent plots and casts.
Great little gumshoe flick. It's a good thing I saw the full film on an earlier month, this month it's only the first hour. Thanks TCM. Pull your head out of...
- kevin sellers
Fun movie. Not especially deep or disturbing, but eminently watchable. Good crisp dialogue from William Golding out of Ross MacDonald and well paced direction from Jack Smight (Why didn't he'd have a bigger movie career?) However, the biggest reason to enjoy this movie is the acting. Great cast, and they all do a good job. Even actresses like Pamela Tiffin, who were never even competent in other movies, are good in this one. And actors who are usually good, like Robert Wagner, Arthur Hill, Lauren Bacall, and Robert Webber are great here. Holding all of it together is Paul Newman, excellent as always when playing a cynical, wisecracking anti hero. The last scene with him and Arthur Hill as disillusioned old friends and compromised idealists is the best in the movie. Give it a solid B.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Every time TCM advertised Harper I eagerly awaited the chance to watch it.Unfortunately the chosen time, 1:45am was very late.I would have enjoyed the opportunity to see this movie at an early night hour.The 10pm timeslot would have been appreciated.I notice this occurs quite a lot with movies not shown as often as others.Please, please re-examine some of the movies like this one and the times chosen to show to give us Fans of your channel. And I do hope you show this one again very soon.Thank you.
- Oliver Cutshaw
Fine film that combines elements of an old Philip Marlowe mystery with commentary of the swinging, sordid, and somewhat shallow lifestyles that are stereotypically associated with Southern California. Arthur Hill, Lauren Bacall, Newman all solid but Shelley Winters, Strother Martin, and Robert Wagner really stand out. Good soundtrack. Solid direction.Always enjoyed its updating on the old trench coat private eye films of the forties. Due for a remake.
Another 'h' of a movie by Paul Newman
- Armen Pandola
The Lew Archer fictional detective (ceated by Ross MacDonald) becomes Leww Harper because Paul Newman had a series of hits with movies containing a word that began with the letter H'' and wanted to continue his streak.The screenplay by William Goldman sets the standard for the modern detective movie - Harper has so many personal problems that his wife leaves him and his best friend almost shots him. The strong suit of this film is the cast. Newman at his 1960's best, Shelly Winters giving another Oscar caliber perfomance, Arthur Hill in a rare film role, Laren Bacall as the world's worse stepmother and a supporting cast that includes a wonderful guru send up by Strother Martin. The real sleeper in the movie is the performance by Robert Wagner - it is his best. Don't miss this one.
Most interesting aspect of this film is seeing LA as it was back in the 60's... all the Landmarks now long gone. Note the Psychodelic Hippie House at the top of Topanga Canyon overlooking Malibu was a major hang-out back then; well-known for its wild Open Invitation Full Moon parties... The old Porsche Speedster Newman drives in the film was owned by Steve McQueen; who was often seen driving around in it on LA's west side before & after the film.