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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is the movie that hooked me on "Film Noir." I first saw this on the late show while suffering a killer flu. Even through local TV editing and enough medicine to tranquilize a circus tent, it had me sitting at attention from start to finish. It wasn't until several years later that I got to see it uncut on cable that I got the full effect. Having grown up with Bogart's hard-boiled private eye archetype, Dick Powell was a complete revelation to me. If you double-bill this with Bogart's "Big Sleep," you see at once that Powell truly IS Phillip Marlowe (even Raymond Chandler thought so), and Bogart is much better suited to portray Hammet's colder, meaner Sam Spade. Powell gives Marlowe a vulnerable cynicism as well as a touch of the "everyman," that Bogart wouldn't be able to pull off until later in his career. Powell's background in romantic musicals gives him access to a far deeper emotional range, needed to play the complex and conflicted Marlowe; his cynicism, his humour, his loyalty to his code...it's all there. Powell manages to give extra resonance to some of Chandler's throw-away similes! No wonder he claimed this as his favorite role!
The direction by Edward Dmytryk and cinematography by Harry Wild are perfect, giving the film a tight, economical yet alluring vintage "feel". Working on a tight budget, they manage to infuse it with all the seedy, chaotic topography that would serve as the touchstones for every film of this type from "Night of the Hunter" to "Blade Runner." While this isn't the first Noir film, it may well be the best.
79 of 92 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?