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>
For the scene in which Marlowe is drugged, Edward Dmytryk showed Dick Powell falling through a sea of faces. In this he borrowed a trick from -Saboteur (1942) by having the camera pull back from the actor to make it seem he was falling. He had the camera accelerate as it pulled back, as well, to intensify the horror. See more »
When Marriott was in Marlowe's office standing by the desk, there was no shadow on his coat. Yet in the next shot from behind Marlowe, the shadow of the letters on the window are very prominent on his coat. See more »
I caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black pool opened up at my feet. I dived in. It had no bottom. I felt pretty good - like an amputated leg.
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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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