6.9/10
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Harper (1966)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 9 April 1966 (Italy)
Lew Harper, a cool private investigator, is hired by a wealthy California matron to locate her kidnapped husband.

Director:

Jack Smight

Writers:

William Goldman (screenplay), Ross Macdonald (novel)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Newman ... Lew Harper
Lauren Bacall ... Mrs. Sampson
Julie Harris ... Betty Fraley
Arthur Hill ... Albert Graves
Janet Leigh ... Susan Harper
Pamela Tiffin ... Miranda Sampson
Robert Wagner ... Allan Taggert
Robert Webber ... Dwight Troy
Shelley Winters ... Fay Estabrook
Harold Gould ... Sheriff
Roy Jenson ... Puddler (as Roy Jensen)
Strother Martin ... Claude
Martin West ... Deputy
Jacqueline deWit ... Mrs. Kronberg (as Jacqueline de Wit)
Eugene Iglesias ... Felix
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Storyline

Lew Harper is a Los Angeles based private investigator whose marriage to Susan Harper, who he still loves, is ending in imminent divorce since she can't stand being second fiddle to his work, which is always taking him away at the most inopportune of times. His latest client is tough talking and physically disabled Elaine Sampson, who wants him to find her wealthy husband, Ralph Sampson, missing now for twenty-four hours, ever since he disappeared at Van Nuys Airport after having just arrived from Vegas. No one seems to like Ralph, Elaine included. She believes he is cavorting with some woman, which to her would be more a fact than a problem. Harper got the case on the recommendation of the Sampsons' lawyer and Harper's personal friend, milquetoast Albert Graves, who is unrequitedly in love with Sampson's seductive daughter, Miranda Sampson. Miranda, who Harper later states throws herself at anything "pretty in pants", also has a decidedly cold relationship with her stepmother, Elaine... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This is a different kind of cat named Lew Harper... and excitement clings to him like a dame! [Theatrical] See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 April 1966 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Harper See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was the "first solo script credit" of screen-writer William Goldman according to Time Out. See more »

Goofs

The front license plate on Harper's Porsche changes locations from above the bumper to below in the middle of the opening scene. See more »

Quotes

Albert Graves: He was scum, Lew. I swear it.
See more »

Alternate Versions

When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'A' rating. All cuts were waived in 1995 when the film was granted a '12' certificate for home video. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Sinister Urge (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Livin' Alone
Words by Dory Previn
Music by André Previn
Sung by Julie Harris (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

An excellent mystery...
8 June 2000 | by keihanSee all my reviews

While perhaps not as taut as "The Maltese Falcon", but just as intricate as "Chinatown" or "L.A. Confidential", "Harper" is an under-acknowledged gem of a film that's as cool as it's leading man. It's with this film that I began to get a better appreciation of Paul Newman, easily one of the most versatile leading men Hollywood has ever produced. Here, he plays Harper as something of a SOB, always looking at the paycheck as his top priority. Not that the pond he has to swim in is any better; a frigid woman client, a hot-to-trot teen daughter, a duplicitous servant, an attorney who's the closest thing to a friend Harper has, a washed-up nightclub singer, her sinister, Texan husband, and a cult leader aren't exactly what one would call charming dinner company. It also doesn't help that the guy Harper's trying to find isn't even liked by the wife who hired him (thanks to the under-appreciated fire and spirit of Lauren "Betty" Bacall, one of the true originals) or anybody else. The only thing they like is his money.

Like a good boxer, the plot bobs and weaves, never letting the audience know when the next surprise is coming until it's too late. While Chandler is cited when talking about this film, it also makes me think of Hammett's many, many tales of the Continental Op. Not everybody always tells the truth, not everything is what it seems, and the best laid plans of mice and men (to paraphrase Bobby Burns) wind up falling through. Some people may not have the patience for this film in our razzle-dazzle, in-your-face age of entertainment, but for those who prefer their movies with a soft, subtle touch, this is one for you.


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