A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
This adaptation of the Raymond Chandler novel 'Farewell, My Lovely', renamed for the American market to prevent filmgoers mistaking it for a musical (for which Powell was already famous) has private eye Philip Marlowe hired by Moose Malloy, a petty crook just out of prison after a seven year stretch, to look for his former girlfriend, Velma, who has not been seen for the last six years. The case is tougher than Marlowe expected as his initially promising enquiries lead to a complex web of deceit involving bribery, perjury and theft, and where no one's motivation is obvious, least of all Marlowe's. Written by
Mark Thompson <email@example.com>
When I was a lad back in the 1950s I saw one of those Warner Brothers Busby Berkeley items on television and my father remarked that was Dick Powell. I thought he was pulling my leg, that sappy tenor singing those love songs, Dick Powell? I was used to the Powell who hosted Four Star Playhouse and acted in them every so often.
My reaction was the reverse of what the movie going public must have thought back in 1944 when Murder My Sweet was released. Here was Dick Powell, no make up, a five o'clock shadow, and a voice down an octave and very cynical and jaded as Philip Marlowe.
Raymond Chandler's private detective has been hired by two people, Gargantuan Mike Mazurki to find his missing girl friend and lovely Claire Trevor to locate a stolen jade necklace. The coincidences keep piling up and it's obvious the two cases are related, but how. That you have to watch the movie for.
Powell was some revelation as Philip Marlowe. He considered himself very lucky to finally escape typecasting as so very few in Hollywood do. It would have been nice to have been in the Oscar sweepstakes, but in 1944 no one was going to beat Bing Crosby out that year for Going My Way. Another singer/actor who escaped from musicals and lengthened his career was John Payne. I can't think of any others.
Claire Trevor also broke some casting mold here. Usually she played good time girls, but with a heart of gold. From Stagecoach, Key Largo, Honky Tonk and Man Without a Star, those were usually her type role. Here she's unredeemably bad, but she has a whole lot of men jumping through hoops for her. I don't think she was ever this bad on the screen ever again.
The mores of 1944 dictated that the film not get to specific on certain items. There were references to gay males and lesbians quite explicit that later did appear in Robert Mitchum's version in the 1970s that were exorcised here. But the spirit of Chandler's novel comes through.
I'm not sure Dick Powell is the best Philip Marlowe ever on the big and small screen. But he certainly has his champions and I wouldn't want to take sides in that debate. He's just very very good.
So good in fact that in the 1950s lots of fans were remarking, was he really ever in musicals?
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