This, the second adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel, is much closer to the source text than the original - Murder, My Sweet (1944), which tended to avoid some of the sleazier parts of ... See full summary »
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>
RKO was on the verge of bankruptcy when it signed up aging matinée idol Dick Powell to make a series of musicals. Powell only signed under the proviso that he could play a straight dramatic role first, so he was cast as Philip Marlowe. Attached director Edward Dmytryk was initially horrified at this casting decision. See more »
When Marriott is in Marlowe's office, the word "Marlowe" from the window is projected across his chest. However, the window blind is drawn down to cover that part of the lettering in the window. See more »
She had more than a figure too. Not a beautiful face, but a good face. She had a face like a Sunday School picnic. You have any idea what kind of face that is, Nulty?
I wouldn't know.
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Private dick Phil Marlowe is hired by a "paltry, foppish man" to accompany him on a midnight assignation. What follows is a glorious piece of Chandleriana, a ganglion of a plot involving a jade necklace, a jailbird who carries a torch for a showgirl, a "big-league blonde" with a rich old husband and an eye for private eyes, and more narrative twists and turns than a Restoration comedy on acid.
Will Moose be reunited with Velma? Who's the brunette in the gulch? What is Anthor's precise relationship with Marriott? How many more times can Marlowe get slugged from behind without having his skull disintegrate?
Golden tenor Dick Powell may not be the obvious choice to play Marlowe, but in fact he turns in THE definitive performance. Chandler once defined the ideal hero in one of his essays as a special man, but at the same time a man of the people. Not amazingly bright, subject to bouts of confusion and wrong-headed wilfulness, but for all that a tough, decent, dry-humoured guy who just happens to be as sexy as hell. Powell delivers.
Watch out for a remarkable dream sequence after Marlowe is forcibly injected with heroin (yes, heroin). Expressionist cinema was never as evocative as here!
All in all, the film is an example of a genre captured at its apex - "like lighting a stick of dynamite, and telling it not to go off"!
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