(1966)3Michael CostelloJack Smight's film version of Ross MacDonald's novel The Moving Target gives Paul Newman a few nice one-liners but is otherwise consistent with the mediocrity which characterized the director's career. Smight never comes close to finding the right tone for MacDonald's work, which was more successfully translated to the screen by Newman's house director Stuart Rosenberg in The Drowning Pool (1975). The breezy tone the director has opted for, replete with sets which seem too highly lit even for comedy, is strangely at odds with MacDonald's satire of the vacuity of L.A. life, and the film comes off as a sour, mean-spirited parade of Left Coast gargoyles, which would today be excoriated for its misogyny if the male characters who aren't outright villains weren't also badly flawed. However, it's difficult not to appreciate the grace of Newman's hard-working detective, who evinces an amusing detachment about the peccadilloes of the human flotsam around whom he adroitly navigates. To the wife who has just described the depth of her hatred for her missing husband and the emptiness of their marriage, he deadpans, "So, it was a love match." Except for Arthur Hill, who at least has a character to play, the rest of the outstanding cast is wasted.